Blues for an Alabama Sky
by Pearl Cleage
directed by Mikael Burke
September 14 – October 15, 2023
Remy Bumppo Theatre Company and the American Writers Museum presents a discussion with playwright, poet, and author Pearl Cleage (“Blues for an Alabama Sky“). Cleage is joined by Remy Bumppo Artistic Director Marti Lyons. This conversation originally took place September 26, 2023 and was recorded live.
Tiffany Renee Johnson* (she/her) – Angel
Ajax Dontavius (he/him) – Leland
Breon Arzell* (he/him) – Guy
Edgar Sanchez* (he/him) – Sam
Jazzlyn Luckett Aderele (she/her) – Delia
Michelle Bester (she/her) – U/S Angel
Monty Kane (he/him) – U/S Leland
Jelani Julyus (he/him) – U/S Guy
Jordan Gleaves (he/him) – U/S Sam
Tae Santos (she/her) – U/S Delia
* denotes member of Actors Equity Association
Director: Mikael Burke (he/him)
Stage Manager: Jean E. Compton* (she/her)
Dramaturg: Martine Kei Green-Rogers (she/her)
Assistant Dramaturg: Camille Rose Pugliese (she/her)
Associate Director: Jasmine B. Gunter (she/her)
Music Director: Ricky Harris (he/him)
Assistant Stage Manager: Anna Vu (she/her)
Dialect and Vocal Designer: Shadana Patterson (she/her)
Scenic Designer: Lauren Nichols (she/her)
Costume Designer: Gregory Graham (he/him)
Assistant Costume Designer: Janelle Smith (they/she)
Wig Designer: Ray Sanchez (he/him)
Wardrobe Supervisor: Matthew Meyer (he/they)
Lighting Designer: Becca Jeffords (she/they)
Assistant Lighting Designer: Liz Gomez (she/her)
Sound Designer: Peter Clare (they/them)
Properties Designer: Sam Paulson (he/him)
Assistant Props Designer: Sam Lancaster (he/him)
Violence & Intimacy: Maya Prentiss (she/her)
Artistic Director: Marti Lyons (she/her)
Executive Director: Margaret McCloskey (she/her)
Creative Producer: Christina Casano (she/her)
Production Manager: Addoris Davis (they/she)
Technical Director: Manuel Ortiz (he/him)
Head Electrician: Nick Chamernik (he/him)
Scenic Charge Artist: Emily Altman (she/her)
About the Cast
TIFFANY RENEE JOHNSON (Angel)
Tiffany Renee Johnson (she/her/hers) is a native Chicago native with a BFA in Theatre from Howard University. Theatre credits include: Chlorine Sky (Steppenwolf Theatre); The Garbologists (Northlight Theatre); Passage (Remy Bumppo Theatre); School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play (Goodman Theatre); Red Velvet (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and A Doll’s House (Writers Theatre); Flyin’ West (American Blues Theatre); Saint Joan (Poetic Forum Collective); VANYA; Or, That’s Life! (Rasaka Theatre); The Nativity (Congo Square Theatre); Hairspray (Drury Lane Theatre). TV credits include: Shameless and The Chi (Showtime); Chicago PD, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire (NBC); Soundtrack (Hulu), Chicago Med (NBC), APB (FOX), Embeds (Verizon go90). Film credits include: Range Runners, North of the 10, and Training Wheels. Tiffany is a woman and artist in constant pursuit of the truth wrapped in story and often says, “Tell yourself the truth and watch it become a gift of freedom.” Tiffany is a member of Actors’ Equity Association (AEA).
BREON ARZELL (Guy)
Breon Arzell (he/him/his), Detroit native, is an actor, choreographer, writer, and teaching artist. While choregraphing for MUNY, Oregon Shakespeare, The Kennedy Center & more, acting credits include: ‘Incendiary’ & ‘Ain’t No Mo’ (Woolly Mammoth Theatre, DC); ‘The Comedy of Errors’, ‘DREAM’ (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, ‘Baskerville’ (Metropolis PAC); ‘The Total Bent’ (Haven w/ About Face); ‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘Objects in the Mirror’ (Goodman Theatre) and more. TOURS: Theater Unspeakable, USA; White Horse Theatre, Germany; ACLE Theatrino, Italy. In the world of television, he is a recurring character on South Side (HBO Max), and choregraphed for The 4400 (CW). The recipient of 6 Joseph Jefferson Awards and 2 Black Theatre Alliance Awards, he has also been recognized as one of New City Magazine’s 50 Players of Chicago in 2018 & 2020 & 2023. Along with other original works (both theater and screenplays), he is the co-creator and playwright of the revival and resurrection of the historical black musical, ‘In Dahomey’. Breon is a member of Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and SAG-AFTRA. @breonarzell and breonarzell.com
JAZZLYN LUCKETT ADERELE (Delia)
Jazzlyn Luckett Aderele (she/her/hers) is honored to be making her Remy Bumppo debut in Blues for an Alabama Sky. Chicago: MIZ MARTHA (u/s), 1919 (u/s, perf*), How Blood Go (u/s) LA: Diana of Dobson’s (Antaeus Theatre), The Tracgic Ecstasy of Girlhood (Third Culture Theatre), Shakespeare + Chill, Signed Iola (Hollywood Fringe Festival) Television: Chicago Fire. Education: MFA, Northwestern University; BA, University of Illinois at Chicago; Art of Acting Studio, LA; RADA, London. Jeremiah 29:11.
AJAX DONTAVIUS (Leland)
Ajax Dontavius (he/him/his) is proud to be debuting in his first show with Remy Bumppo Theatre! Recent credits include: Last Night and The Night Before (Steppenwolf Theatre); Measure for Measure (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Fences (American Blues Theater); Middle Passage (Lifeline Theatre). TELEVISION: Chicago Fire (NBC), Chicago P.D (NBC), 61st Street (CW). FILM: Rebranded, Duplicity. AWARDS: Black Theater Alliance – Most Promising Actor (Fences). EDUCATION: BFA Acting, Roosevelt University – Chicago College of Performing Arts. “All love to God, my Wife, my Mom and Gray Talent Agency” Proverbs 3:5 ajaxdontavius.com
EDGAR MIGUEL SANCHEZ (Sam)
Edgar Miguel Sanchez (he/they), born in the Dominican Republic, raised in Miami, FL, earned his BFA in Acting from The Theater School at Depaul University with a minor in Sociology. Chicago acting credits include: Toni Stone; Sweat, stop.reset. (Goodman Theatre), Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Twelfth Night (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); In The Next Room or the vibrator play (TimeLine); Hobo King, Brothers of the Dust (Congo Square); Water by the Spoonful, Native Son (The Court); The Wheel (Steppenwolf). REGIONAL: Hamlet in Hamlet (GableStage); Twelfth Night, Richard III, Troilus and Cressida, The Admirable Crichton (APT); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, The Comedy of Errors (OSF). Fences (ATC, Indiana Rep, Milwaukee Rep); Water by the Spoonful (TheatreSquared); That Must Be The Entrance To Heaven (Urbanite), FILM: Blueprint, 3 Days TELEVISION: Chicago MED, Sense8, Chicago P.D. @edgar_miguel_sanchez
MICHELLE RENEE BESTER (U/S Angel)
Michelle Renee Bester (she/her/hers) is making her debut with the Remy Bumppo Theatre Company and is honored to be doing so. Black Ensemble Theater (directing): The Real Housewives of Motown, Grandma’s Jukebox. Chicago: Chlorine Sky (Steppenwolf), In The Next Room (Idle Muse Theatre), Booty Candy (Windy City Playhouse), The Few (Steep Theatre). Television: Chicago Fire, The Red Line, Electric Dreams.
JELANI JULYUS (U/S Guy)
Jelani Julyus (he/him/his) believes in the power of story to transform society and possesses a unique ability to find the hope nestled at the heart of any story. Recently, he originated the role of Larry in Stage Left’s world premiere of “In the Back/On the Floor,” and played Crane in the St. Sebastian Players’ production of “The Book of Will.” Jelani trained at Black Box Acting Studio, where he completed The ACADEMY in 2022, and he is grateful for the opportunity to work with Remy Bumppo, this incredible cast, and our exceptional creative team. Jelani Julyus is represented by 10 Management, and you can follow him @jelanijulyus on Instagram or at jelanijulyus.com. He dedicates his career as an actor to his children and hopes they learn that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams.
MONTY KANE (U/S Leland)
Monty Kane (he/him/his) is new to Remy Bumppo theatre, he was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts at Cardinal Stritch University. In college, he appeared in 16 stage plays, and 6 leading roles, including musicals and children’s shows. Monty wants to thank Remy Bumppo Theatre for this pleasant opportunity to be apart of such an important play. He also sends a special thanks to those who are in attendance to support the arts.
JORDAN GLEAVES (U/S Sam)
Jordan Gleaves (he/him) is elated to join Remy Bumppo Theatre for his first time. Theatre credits include: Ezekiel’s Wheel and Ride Or Die (MPAACT), Macbeth and Julius Caesar (Nashville Shakespeare Festival), Relentless (TimeLine Theatre and Goodman Theatre), Othello and Love’s Labour’s Lost (Montana Shakespeare in the Parks), and Sunset Baby (Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre) Film credits include CIG, BAM!, and DOWNSTATE, which he also co-wrote with director Jordan Tragash. A proud company member of both MPAACT and Theatre L’Acadie, Jordan holds an MFA in Acting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a BA in Drama from Morehouse College. He is represented by Stewart Talent. “I don’t want to work so hard on the body I forget about the soul.” – Sam
TAE SANTOS (U/S Delia)
Tae Santos (she/her) is an actor, director, and writer originally from Bakersfield, CA. She is a recent graduate from The Theatre School at DePaul where she received her MFA. This is her first time working with Remy Bumpo and she is very excited to be part of this production. Thank you to the whole Blues production team.
About the Production Crew
JEAN E. COMPTON (Stage Manager)
Jean is glad to return to Remy Bumppo, where she previously stage managed Galileo’’s Daughter, Anna in the Tropics, and Passage. She is a stage manager, collaborator, and new works booster whose Chicago credits include Paradise Square (Pre-Broadway), Thirst (Strawdog Theatre Company), The Death of Gaia Divine (Momentary Theatre), 3:35PM, Candide, and Mudpie 2018 (Mudlark Theater Company), You for Me for You (Sideshow Theatre Company), Lizzie (Firebrand Theatre), and Shining Lives (Northlight). Her regional credits include Into the Breeches! (Cleveland Play House), Cannabis Passover, Proximity, Indecent, Blood at the Root, Commedia, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, An Octoroon, and Into the Breeches! (Chautauqua Theater Company), Venus in Fur and The Whale (Rep Stage), and seasons at Two River Theater and Cleveland Play House. Jean is a company member at The Passage Theatre where she has stage managed The Miscellany, All-One! The Dr. Bronner’s Play, and Spirits to Enforce. She is a graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University. Jean is a member of Actors’ Equity Association (AEA). www.jeanecompton.com
MARTINE KEI GREEN-ROGERS (Dramaturg)
Martine Kei Green-Rogers (she/her/hers) is the Dean of the Theatre School at DePaul University. Her dramaturgical credits include its not a trip,its a journey, He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box and The Ohio State Murders at Round House Theatre; Wind in the Door and Long Way Down at the Kennedy Center; The Catastrophist at Marin; Sweat at the Goodman; King Hedley II, Radio Golf, Five Guys Named Moe, Blues for An Alabama Sky, Gem of the Ocean, Waiting for Godot, Iphigenia at Aulis, Seven Guitars, The Mountaintop, and Home at Court Theatre; It’s Christmas, Carol!, Hairspray, The Book of Will, Shakespeare in Love, UniSon, Hannah and the Dread Gazebo, Comedy of Errors, To Kill A Mockingbird, The African Company Presents Richard III, A Midsummer Night’s Dream; and Fences at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Broadway credits include Jagged Little Pill.
CAMILLE ROSE PUGLIESE (Assistant Dramaturg)
Camille Rose (she/her) is a senior at The Theatre School at DePaul University studying Dramaturgy & Dramatic Criticism. Theatre School credits include Unaccompanied and Much Ado About Nothing (Dramaturg)
JASMINE B. GUNTER (Associate Director)
Jasmine B. Gunter (she/her/hers) is a MFA directing candidate at Northwestern University. She is the 2021 recipient of the Hangar Directing Drama League fellowship, the 2020 recipient of the Leighton M. Ballew Directing Scholarship, and a SDC associate member. Recent directing credits include The Revolutionists (Northwestern University), jump (Northwestern University) Lost Girl (Hangar Theatre), The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Hangar Theatre), Hedda Gabler (Northwestern University) Wine in the Wilderness (Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts), Intimate Apparel (SUNY Brockport), Ghost Story (Kane Repertory Theatre), Lines in the Dust (Geva Theatre Center), Reroute (24 Hour Plays: Nationals). Associate/Assistant Credit: Nina Simone: Four Women (Arena Stage), In the Heights (Seattle Rep), Quixote Nuevo (Hartford Stage/Huntington Theatre Company), and The Luckiest People (Actors Theatre of Charlotte/NNPN). Jasmine has also taught at the Berkshire Theatre Group and the Redhouse Arts Center in Syracuse, NY. Jasmine is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC).
ANNA VU (Assistant Stage Manager)
Anna Vu (she/her/hers) is a freelance stage manager originally from Lilburn, GA, but is now based in Chicago, IL. She graduated from Auburn University with a BFA in theatre management and a minor in marketing. Chicago credits include: Buried Child and The Language Archive (AstonRep), Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins 2022 and Tarot Card Play (Strawdog Theatre Company), Toni Stone (Goodman Theatre), Galileo’s Daughter (Remy Bumppo), The Producers (Music Theater Works). Some regional theatre credits include: Murder on the Orient Express and Over the River and Through the Woods (Cortland Repertory Theatre), Pericles and The Comedy of Errors (Utah Shakespeare Festival), The Nutcracker (East Alabama Community Ballet). She currently serves as the production liaison at the Annoyance Theatre and Bar. She strives for women empowerment and diversity and inclusion in the art she creates. Upcoming projects include Love Song at Remy Bumppo. She would like to thank her friends and family for their constant support. Much love to KC and Kenny the dog. vuanna.weebly.com
LAUREN M. NICHOLS (Scenic Designer)
Lauren is a freelance designer, scale model builder, and draftsman. Recent design credits include Tiger Style (Writers); Cinderella (Village Theatre- Seattle); and In Every Generation (Victory Gardens). She has also designed for Renaissance Theatreworks- Milwaukee, UIC, DePaul Opera, Glass Apple, The Gift Theatre, Firebrand, Hell In a Handbag, BoHo, and Rivendell. This is her 2nd show with Remy Bumpoo as she designed Anna in the Tropics earlier this year. As an assistant she has worked with Julliard, NY Theatre Workshop, St. Louis Opera, Goodman, Milwaukee Rep, The Alliance, and Oregon Shakes among many others. Upcoming shows this season include designs for Steppenwolf, University of Chicago, and Teatro Vista. She currently teaches drafting and digital design at The Theatre School-DePaul University. MFA Northwestern. laurenangeldesigns.com
MANUEL ORITZ (Technical Director)
Manuel Ortiz (he/him/his) is thrilled to be joining Remy Bumppo! He is a Chicago native deeply engaged and devoted to the theater industry. Holding a BFA in Acting from DePaul University, he has cultivated his skills as an actor, carpenter, designer, and educator. Currently, Manuel is the Technical Director for Broadway in Chicago’s Teatro Zinanni. Grounded in a commitment to collaboration, inclusivity, and equity, he consistently contributes to the thriving theater scene while fostering artistic communities.
GREGORY GRAHAM (Costume Designer)
GREGORY GRAHAM (he/him) is a Chicago costume designer. His credits include: Chicago: Anna in the Tropics, Routes (Remy Bumppo); The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre); 1919 (Steppenwolf Theatre); Enough to Let The Light In (Teatro Vista); Private Lives (Raven Theatre); The Garbologists, Fireflies (Northlight Theatre); Rent, Porchlight Revisits: Passing Strange (Porchlight Music Theatre); Gloria, Reverb (UIC School of Theatre and Music); On the Greenbelt, Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins (Strawdog Theatre); The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice (Court Theatre); Dream: A Community Reimaging of A Midsummer’s Night Dream (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); The Facts of Life: Satan’s School for Girls, The Drag Seed (Hell in a Handbag Productions). Regional: Raisin (Skylight Music Theatre); Blood at the Root (Millikin University, School of Theatre and Dance). Education: BA in Theatre Design, University of Illinois at Chicago. gregorygrahamdesign.com
JANELLE SMITH (Asst. Costume Designer)
Janelle Smith (they/she) is a Chicago-based costume designer, wardrobist, and stylist who has worked at Writer’s Theatre, Marriott Theatre, Oil Lamp Theater, Oak Park Festival Theatre, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Tuacahn Center for the Arts, University of Chicago, and The Gateway Playhouse doing wardrobe, hair, makeup, and costume design. After finishing their BFA in Theatrical Production and Design at Western Michigan they completed an MFA in Costume Design from Illinois State University. Janelle is excited to be a part of the team that made Blues for Alabama Sky a reality.
PETER CLARE (Sound Designer)
Peter Clare (they/them) is a multi-disciplinary theatre artist and musician recently arrived in Chicago from Milwaukee. They are delighted to be back at Remy Bumppo after designing last season for ROUTES and ANNA IN THE TROPICS. Other select sound design and music credits include: STARLINGS by Ben Daniel Parman, Soulstice Theatre; THE DUMB WAITER, The Alchemist Theatre; THE NAUTICAL TRAGEDY OF DICK III, Quasimondo Physical Theatre; QUALITY STREET, Acacia Theatre; MEDEA, Voices Found Repertory; NATURAL SHOCKS, Third Avenue Playhouse/Next Act Theatre; and THE ISLAND, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. Love and thanks to Kelsey, Sky, Erin, Jennifer, Ben, and their family at Zao MKE.
SAM PAULSON (Properties Designer)
Sam Paulson (he/him/his) has worked as a designer on both theater and television productions in Chicago. Originally from Pennsylvania he studied Cinema and Photography at Ithaca College. This is his first production with Remy Bumppo. His previous work includes The Crucible at the Invictus Theater, Extra Yarn at the Lifeline Theater, Justified City Primeval on FX, Appletv’s The Shinning Girl, and the Aldi 2022 Holiday campaign. Outside of prop design he enjoys working on short films in Chicago independent film community, as well as cooking for friends and family. He can be reached at email@example.com
MATTHEW MEYER (Wardrobe Supervisor)
Matthew (he/they) is a fairly new face to the Chicago Theatre scene after moving here from Alaska. They were honored to be a part of the wardrobe crew for “The Who’s Tommy” at the Goodman Theatre this summer, and they’re excited to bring what they’ve learned from that experience to this production.
NICK CHAMERNIK (Head Electrician)
Nick Chamernik (he/him/his) is excited to return to Remy Bumppo Theatre Company on his fourth production with the company. Previous RBTC credits include “Galileo’s Daughter,” “Anna in the Tropics,” and “Passage” (Head Electrician). Other recent Chicago credits include “The Who’s Tommy” at Goodman Theatre (Projections Operator), “Mesmerized” at Chicago Children’s Theatre (Asst. Lighting Designer), “Radial Gradient” and “This Wide Night” with Shattered Globe Theatre (Head Electrician), and “The 92nd Annual Waa-Mu Show” and “Be Mean to Me” at Northwestern University (Head Electrician).
EMILY ALTMAN (Scenic Charge Artist)
Emily Altman (she/her) is a Chicago-based Scenic Artist whose charge work with Remy Bumppo stretches back to 2006. She is currently the paint shop supervisor at The Theatre School of Depaul University, and leads teams of students and young professionals on dozens of Chicago theatre productions year round with her long time scenic partner Steven Abbott. Other current work of this scenic duo can be seen at Albany Park Theatre Project’s “Port of Entry” where they led a team of 10 artists in the creation of an interactive theatrical production that guides audiences through a whimsical, dreamlike 3-story apartment complex. She is thrilled and honored to introduce the artistry of 3rd year Raquel Dwight on Blues for an Alabama Sky, along with 4th year Shokie Tsuemah and recent Depaul graduate Caitlyn Girten.
MAYA VINICE PRENTISS (Fight & Intimacy Designer)
Maya Vinice Prentiss (she/her) is an SAFD Certified Actor-Combatant, Fight Choreographer, and Dialect Coach. ACTING: Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, The Story Theatre, Pegasus Theatre Company, Definition Theatre, TheatreSquared, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Illinois Theatre. FILM: Jade. TELEVISION: The Chi. FIGHT DIRECTION: Steppenwolf Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Timeline Theatre, Babes with Blades Theatre Co., Definition Theatre, Raven Theatre The Story Theatre, The Impostors Theatre.
INTIMACY DIRECTION: Steppenwolf Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Raven Theatre
DIALECT COACHING: Goodman Theatre, The House Theatre. EDUCATION: BFA in Drama, Spelman College; MFA in Acting, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. AWARDS: Jeff Award- Best Fight Choreography (Ethiopianamerica), Best Ensemble (Marie Antoinette)
About the Director
MIKAEL BURKE (Director)
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, Burke has 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. Burke 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).
About the Playwright
PEARL CLEAGE (Playwright)
3759 N. Ravenswood Avenue
Chicago, IL 60613
1229 W. Belmont Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60657
Box Office: 773.975.8150