American Blues Theater opens its 2017-2018 Season with the Chicago Premiere of Beauty’s Daughter by Dael Orlandersmith, directed by Ron OJ Parson, and Artistic Affiliate Wandachristine. Beauty’s Daughter runs July 7 – August 5, 2017 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago. This Obie Award-winning play by Dael Orlandersmith depicts one woman’s journey through life’s obstacles in an East Harlem neighborhood. Artistic Affiliate Wandachristine takes on 6 different characters during the course of this solo play—some broken, some on the way down, but all memorable.
“Wandachristine’s performance is wholly engrossing as she embodies the gestures, voices, and exceptional rhythms of Ms. Orlandersmith’s world,” says Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside.
The creative team for Beauty’s Daughter includes Caitlin McLeod (scenic design), Artistic Affiliate Jared Gooding (lighting design), Michael Alan Stein (costume design), Eric Backus (sound design), Mary O’Dowd (props design), and Artistic Affiliate Paul Deziel (projection design). The assistant director is Artemis Steakley Freeman, the dramaturg is Wilson Cain and the stage manager is Cara Parrish.
About the Artists
Dael Orlandersmith is a Goodman Artistic Associate and Artist-in-Residence at the new Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement at the Goodman. Ms. Orlandersmith collaborated with the Goodman on Black n Blue Boys/Broken Men during the 2012/2013 Season and Stoop Stories during the 2009/2010 Season. Black n Blue Boys/Broken Men was developed as a co-commission between the Goodman and Berkeley Repertory Theatre, where it was staged in May 2012. Ms. Orlandersmith first performed Stoop Stories in 2008 at The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival and Apollo Theater’s Salon Series; Washington, D.C.’s Studio Theatre produced its world premiere in 2009. Her play Forever, commissioned by the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles, was performed at the Mark Taper Forum in fall 2014. The show was then performed at the Long Wharf Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop and Portland Center Stage in 2015. Her play Until the Fall will play the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis in fall 2016. Her play Horsedreams was developed at New Dramatists and workshopped at New York Stage and Film Company in 2008, and was performed at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in 2011. Bones was commissioned by the Mark Taper Forum, where it premiered in 2010. Ms. Orlandersmith premiered The Blue Album, in collaboration with David Cale, at Long Wharf Theatre in 2007. Yellowman was commissioned by and premiered at McCarter Theatre in a co-production with the Wilma Theater and Long Wharf Theatre. Ms. Orlandersmith was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and Drama Desk Award nominee for Outstanding Play and Outstanding Actress in a Play for Yellowman in 2002. The Gimmick, commissioned by McCarter Theatre, premiered in their Second Stage OnStage series in 1998 and went on to great acclaim at Long Wharf Theatre and New York Theatre Workshop; Ms. Orlandersmith won the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for The Gimmick in 1999. Her play Monster premiered at New York Theatre Workshop in November 1996. Ms. Orlandersmith has toured extensively with the Nuyorican Poets Café (Real Live Poetry) throughout the United States, Europe and Australia. Yellowman and a collection of her earlier works have been published by Vintage Books and Dramatists Play Service. Ms. Orlandersmith attended Sundance Institute Theatre Lab for four summers and is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant, the Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights, a Guggenheim award and the 2005 PEN/Laura Pels Foundation award for a playwright in mid-career. She is the recipient of a Lucille Lortel Foundation Playwrights Fellowship and an Obie Award for Beauty’s Daughter.
Ron OJ Parson is a native of Buffalo, New York, and a graduate of the University of Michigan’s professional theatre program. He is the co-founder and former Artistic Director of The Onyx Theatre Ensemble of Chicago, a Resident Artist at Court Theatre and an Associate Artist with Teatro Vista and Writers Theatre. Since moving to Chicago from New York in 1994, he has worked as both an actor and director. His Chicago credits include work with Victory Gardens, Goodman, Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, Northlight Theatre, Court Theatre, Black Ensemble Theatre, Congo Square Theatre, Urban Theatre Co., ETA Creative Arts Foundation, Chicago Theatre Company, and Writers Theatre. Regionally, Ron has directed shows at Studio Arena Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Pasadena Playhouse, Geva Theatre, Virginia Stage and Portland Stage (Maine), among others. Ron also has directed at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada. Acting credits on television and film include ER, Early Edition, Turks, American Playhouse, Vamping, Barbershop 2,Primal Fear, Ali, Drop Squad, Boss and most recently Fox’s Empire.
Wandachristine has graced the small screen in many memorable guest starring roles; the last one playing Birdie on Chicago PD. On the large screen, she’s worked alongside talents like Whoopi Goldberg, Neil Patrick Harris, Paul Newman, Tom Selleck, Clifton Davis; and she starred as Mrs. Jones, in the hit dramedy Me and Mrs. Jones along with Kim Fields and Brian White. On stage, she has appeared in such notable productions as, Spunk, The Vagina Monologues, Oo-Bla-Dee, and the touring company of Fences. However, her role as Quilly in the Writer’s Theatre production of Old Settler, garnered both a Supporting Actress nomination and the Best Actress nomination for the noted Ruby Dee/Black Theater Alliance Award, which was also the last time she and director Ron Oj Parson worked together. Her voice work includes commercials for Mc Donald’s, political campaigns, Scarface the video game, The Justice League and work with Eddie Murphy on the PJ’s. As an alumni of Loyola University, she was commissioned to write a one-act play Welcome Home for the opening of the Newhart Family Theater. Recent literary projects include her first novel, “I Love You…More Than Shoes!” and her most recent play One Day.
American Blues Theater is proud to continue “Pink Previews” for this production. Proceeds from preview performances are donated to the Lynn Sage Foundation for breast cancer research.
Additional community partners for this production include the Night Ministry, Young Chicago Authors, and The Family Institute at Northwestern University.
Accessible Performance Schedule
Touch Tour and Audio Described Performance: Sunday, July 16. Touch Tour begins at 1:30pm, performance begins at 2:30pm. Closed Caption Performance: Sunday, July 23 begins at 2:30pm.
Post-Show Town Hall Meetings and Special Events
American Blues Theater offers free post-show events following Sunday performances of Beauty’s Daughter, July 9 – 30, 2017.
Fact Sheet / Beauty’s Daughter
Title: Beauty’s Daughter
Written by: Dael Orlandersmith
Directed by: Ron OJ Parson
Featuring: Artistic Affiliate Wandachristine
Creative Team: Caitlin McLeod (scenic), Artistic Affiliate Jared Gooding (lighting), Michael Alan Stein (costumes), Eric Backus (sound), Mary O’Dowd (props),and Artistic Affiliate Paul Deziel (projections). The assistant director is Artemis Steakley Freeman, the dramaturg is Wilson Cain and the stage manager is Cara Parrish.
Dates: July 7 – August 5, 2017
Previews: July 7 – July 12, 2017
Press Opening: Thursday, July 13, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
Regular Run: July 14 – August 5, 2017
Schedule: Thursday: 7:30 p.m.
Friday: 7:30 p.m.
Saturday: 7:30 p.m.
Sunday: 2:30 p.m.
Additional performances on Wednesdays, July 12, 19 & 24 at 7:30pm; Wednesday, August 2 at 2:30pm; and Saturday, August 5 at 3:00pm. There will be no performance on Saturday, August 5 at 7:30 pm.
Location: Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago
Ticket prices: $19 - $49
Box Office: Buy online at AmericanBluesTheater.com or by calling 773.327.5252.
About American Blues Theater
Winner of the American Theatre Wing’s prestigious 2016 National Theatre Company Award, American Blues Theater is a premier arts organization with an intimate environment that patrons, artists, and all Chicagoans call home. American Blues Theater explores the American identity through the plays it produces and communities it serves.
The diverse and multi-generational artists have established the second-oldest professional Equity Ensemble theater in Chicago. The 37-member Ensemble has 530+ combined years of collaboration on stage. As of 2016, the theater and artists received 186 Joseph Jefferson Awards and nominations that celebrate excellence in Chicago theater and over 31 Black Theatre Alliance Awards. The artists are honored with Pulitzer Prize nominations, Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Emmy Awards and numerous other accolades.
The American Blues Theater Ensemble includes all four Founders Ed Blatchford, Rick Cleveland, James Leaming, and William Payne with Dawn Bach, Matthew Brumlow, Manny Buckley, Kate Buddeke, Sarah Burnham, Dara Cameron, Casey Campbell, Darren Canady, Brian Claggett, Dennis Cockrum, Austin Cook, Laura Coover, Ian Paul Custer, Lauri Dahl, Joe Foust, Cheryl Graeff, Marty Higginbotham, Jaclyn Holsey, Lindsay Jones, Nambi E. Kelley, Kevin R. Kelly, Steve Key, Ed Kross, Warren Levon, Michael Mahler, Heather Meyers, John Mohrlein, Christopher J. Neville, Suzanne Petri, Carmen Roman, Editha Rosario, Sarah E. Ross, and Gwendolyn Whiteside.
American Blues Theater programs and activities are made possible, in part by funding by The MacArthur Funds for Arts & Culture at Prince, the Shubert Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, SMART Growth Grant, Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, Anixter Foundation, Actors’ Equity Foundation, and the Chip Pringle Fund. ComEd is the Season Lighting Sponsor.
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