Remy Bumppo’s 2023-2024 Season
Blues for an Alabama Sky
by Pearl Cleage, directed by Mikael Burke
September 14 – October 15, 2023
It’s 1930 in Harlem and jazz singer Angel has just gotten fired from The Cotton Club. Supported by her closest friends, Angel hopes for her next big break as costume designer Guy, imagines sewing dresses in Paris, and Delia works to bring family planning centers to the community. But all of their dreams are put in jeopardy when Angel meets Leland, a recent Alabama transplant. Will he be the true love Angel has been waiting for or will he forever alter the dynamic of their precious inner circle? Blues for an Alabama Sky by Pearl Cleage is a play about change, struggle, and joy set against the tumultuous backdrop of prohibition, the Jazz Age, and the dawning of The Great Depression.
Mikael Burke (he/him/his) is a Chicago-based director, deviser, and educator. A Princess Grace Award-winner in Theatre and Jeff Award-nominated director, Mikael’s worked with Goodman Theatre, About Face Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Raven Theatre, Jackalope Theatre Company, First Floor Theater, American Theatre Company, Chicago Dramatists, The Story Theatre, and Windy City Playhouse in Chicago, and regionally with Theatreworks Hartford, Forward Theatre Company, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Geva Theatre Center, Third Avenue Playworks, and Phoenix Theatre Indianapolis. Mikael previously served as Associate Artistic Director of About Face Theatre and has taught at Depaul University, Roosevelt University, and Butler University. Recent directing credits include Two Mile Hollow by Leah Nanako Winkler; the American premiere of Routes by Rachel De-Lahay, The Wanderers by Anna Ziegler, Shakespeare’s Richard III, the world and Chicago premieres of The Magnolia Ballet by Terry Guest (2022 Jeff Award Winner – Production, Short Run); Fireflies by Donna R. Love (Black Theatre Alliance Award – Best Direction of an Ensemble). | mklburke.com
Pearl Cleage (she/her/hers) is an Atlanta-based writer whose plays include POINTING AT THE MOON, WHAT I LEARNED IN PARIS, FLYIN’ WEST, BLUES FOR AN ALABAMA SKY, and BOURBON AT THE BORDER, commissioned and directed by Kenny Leon at the Alliance Theatre. She is also the author of A SONG FOR CORETTA, written in 2007 during Cleage’s time as Cosby Professor in Women’s Studies at Spelman College. Her play, THE NACIREMA SOCIETY REQUESTS THE HONOR OF YOUR PRESENCE AT A CELEBRATION OF THEIR FIRST ONE HUNDRED YEARS, was commissioned by the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and premiered in 2010, in a joint production by the ASF and Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre, directed by Susan Booth. Her plays have also been performed at Arena Stage, Hartford Stage, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Huntington Theatre, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the Long Wharf Theatre, Just US Theatre, True Colors Theatre, Bushfire Theatre, the Intiman Theatre, St. Louis Black Repertory Company, and Seven Stages. She is also an accomplished performance artist, often working in collaboration with her husband, writer Zaron W. Burnett, Jr. They have performed at the National Black Arts Festival, the National Black Theatre Festival, and colleges and universities across the country. Cleage and Burnett also collaborated with performance artists Idris Ackamoor and Rhodessa Jones on the script for THE LOVE PROJECT, which premiered at the National Black Theatre Festival in 2008, and is currently touring the country. Cleage is also an accomplished novelist. Her novels include “What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day,” a New York Times bestseller and an Oprah Book Club selection, “I Wish I Had a Red Dress,” “Some Things I Never Thought I’d Do,” “Babylon Sisters,” “Baby Brother’s Blues,” “Seen It All and Done the Rest,” and “Till You Hear from Me.” She is also the author of “Mad at Miles: A Blackwoman’s Guide to Truth,” a groundbreaking work of race and gender, and “We Speak Your Names,” a praise poem commissioned by Oprah Winfrey for her 2005 celebration of legendary African American women and written in collaboration with Zaron Burnett. Cleage has also written for magazines, including “Essence,” “Vibe,” “Rap Pages,” and “Ms.” In addition to her work as the founding editor of “Catalyst” magazine, a literary journal, she was a regular columnist for the Atlanta Tribune for ten years, winning many awards for her thought-provoking columns. She has also written for TheDefendersOnLine.com. Cleage has been awarded grants in support of her work from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fulton County Arts Council, the Georgia Council on the Arts, the Atlanta Bureau of Cultural Affairs, and the Coca-Cola Foundation. Her work has earned her many awards and honors, including an NAACP Image Award for fiction in 2008. Pearl Cleage is represented by Ron Gwiazda at Abrams Artists Agency in New York City. Her website is www.PearlCleage.net. She also maintains a Facebook fan page. www.pearlcleage.net
by John Kolvenbach, directed by Artistic Director Marti Lyons
March 21 – April 21, 2024
Beane has always been different. Joan, his sister, is his only real bridge to the outside world, but she is consumed with her own life, climbing the corporate ladder and sparring with her husband, Harry. When Beane falls madly in love with Molly, Beane’s world suddenly expands, and the seismic shift forces all of them to reexamine their own relationships and discover new facets of human connection. An off-kilter romantic comedy, Love Song by John Kolvenbach is a quick-witted exploration of the countless complexities of love and the endless capacity of the heart.
Marti Lyons (she/her/hers) most recently directed Galileo’s Daughter by Jessica Dickey at Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Georgiana and Kitty: Christmas at Pemberly at Northlight Theatre, Wife of a Salesman by Eleanor Burgess at Milwaukee Rep, Sense and Sensibility adapted by Jessica Swale at American Players Theatre and the world-premiere of John Proctor is the Villain by Kimberly Belflower at Studio Theatre in D.C. Marti’s other productions include The Niceties by Eleanor Burgess at Writers Theatre; Cymbeline at American Players Theatre; The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe and both the stage and audio productions of Kings by Sarah Burgess at Studio Theatre; the world-premiere of How to Defend Yourself by liliana padilla, a Victory Gardens and Actors Theatre of Louisville co-production; Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee at Victory Gardens and City Theatre; Witch by Jen Silverman at Geffen Playhouse and Writers Theatre (LA Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Direction); Native Gardens by Karen Zacarías at Victory Gardens; Botticelli in the Fire by Jordan Tannahill at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company; I, Banquo at Chicago Shakespeare Theater; Title and Deed by Will Eno at Lookingglass Theatre Company; Laura Marks’ Bethany and Mine at The Gift Theatre. Marti is also an ensemble member at The Gift Theatre, and a member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. martilyons.com
John Kolvenbach (he/him/his) is the author of Love Song, on an average day, Gizmo Love, The Gravity of Means and the recently completed Fabuloso. on an average day premiered at the Comedy Theatre on the West End, starring Woody Harrelson and Kyle MacLachlan, directed by John Crowley, Gizmo Love premiered at WHAT on Cape Cod and opened in London Fall 2006. The Gravity of Means premiered at MCC in New York. Kolvenbach has recently been commissioned by South Coast Repertory for a new play.
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