A Red Orchid Theatre presents the Chicago Premiere of Is God Is by Aleshea Harris, directed by Marti Gobel. Is God Is runs April 6 – May 28, 2023 at A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N Wells in Chicago. The press performances are scheduled for Saturday, April 15 at 3:00pm and 7:30pm.
When twins Racine and Anaia receive a letter from the mother they thought was dead, they swear to avenge her — and themselves — with blood. Their “mission from God” spans from the Dirty South to the California desert, from hip-hop to Afropunk, from ancient tragedy to the Spaghetti Western. Winner of the 2016 Relentless Award and the 2018 Obie Award for Playwriting, Is God Is asks us to consider the roots and futility of cyclical violence, and to question ourselves for wallowing so happily in stories that traffic in it.
The production features Ensemble Member Karen Aldridge (She) with Sherman Edwards (Chuck Hall), Ashli Rene Funches (Anaia), Kevin Minor (Man), Andrew Muwonge (Scotch), Donovan Session (Riley), Aja Singletary (Racine) and Rita Wicks (Angie).
The creative team includes Syndey Lynne (Scenic), Gregory Graham (Costumes), Janelle Smith (Assistant Costume Designer), Levi Wilkins (Lights), Daniel Etti-Williams (Sound), Jennifer Wernau (Props), Kemet Gobel (Composer), Jyreika Guest (Fight Choreographer), Tom Daniel (Technical Director), Michelle Levinson (Stage Manager), Patrick Starner (Production Manager), Detra Payne (Assistant Director), Martine Kai Green (Dramaturg), and Peter Ruiz (Assistant Dramaturg).
About the Artists
ALESHEA HARRIS (Playwright) [she/her]: Aleshea Harris’s play Is God Is (directed by Taibi Magar at Soho Rep) won the 2016 Relentless Award, an OBIE Award for playwriting in 2017, the Helen Merrill Playwriting Award in 2019 and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. What to Send Up When It Goes Down (directed by Whitney White, produced by The Movement Theatre Company), a play-pageant-ritual response to anti-blackness, had its critically acclaimed NYC premiere in 2018, was featured in the April 2019 issue of American Theatre Magazine and received a rare special commendation from the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Harris was awarded a Windham-Campbell Literary Prize and the Mimi Steinberg Playwriting Award in 2020 and the Hermitage Greenfield Prize in 2021. She has performed her own work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Orlando Fringe Festival, REDCAT, as part of La Fête du Livre at La Comèdie de Saint-Étienne and at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles. Harris is a two-time MacDowell Fellow and has enjoyed residencies at Hedgebrook and Djerassi.
MARTI GOBEL (Director) [she/her]: A San Diego, California native, Marti Gobel is an actor, director and teaching artist and proud member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA. A 2008 graduate of University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a BA in Performance Theatre and Philosophy (with an emphasis in Religious Studies), Ms. Gobel also studied at The J. F. Kennedy Center to complete her training in Effective Residency and Lesson Planning. Upon graduation, Ms. Gobel was Producing Artistic Director of UPROOTED theatre, a company she co-founded, from 2009-2015. An accomplished actress with a body of work that spans over a decade, Ms. Gobel has performed routinely for every Equity house in Wisconsin in a variety of roles from Shakespeare to Morisseau. Standouts include several solo performer productions that showcase her strong ability to execute “character roles”. Favorites include Beauty’s Daughter, The Testimonial of Sojourner Truth (UPROOTED theatre), Neat (Renaissance Theaterworks: Milwaukee, Sheboygan and South Africa), and No Child (Theatre Lila, Next Act Theatre). Her critically acclaimed directing style has deepened her relationship with many theatre companies across the nation, with works at The Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Renaissance Theaterworks, Milwaukee Chamber Theater, Forward Theatre, Next Act Theatre, and First Stage Children’s Theatre. Most recently, she has had the honor of working in the San Diego theatre scene under the umbrellas of Cygnet Theatre, Moxie Theatre, Scripps Ranch Theatre, and the now defunct San Diego Repertory Theatre. Having just returned from Knoxville where she directed Trouble in Mind at Clarence Brown Theatre, Ms. Gobel is thrilled to make her A Red Orchid Theatre directorial debut.
KAREN ALDRIDGE (She) [she/they]: Credits as an AROT Ensemble Member: Victims of Duty and The Moors. Outside of A Red Orchid, she starred in the international tour of Battlefield and Le Costume, both directed by Peter Brook. She originated the role of Mrs. Phelps in the production of Matilda the Musical on Broadway. Chicago theatre credits include extensive work at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Goodman Theatre, and Steppenwolf Theatre, as well as Writers’ Theatre and Next Theatre Company. Television & film credits include recurring roles on: Severance (Apple TV+), The Get Down (Netflix, produced and directed by Baz Luhrmann), Chicago Fire and Chicago Med (NBC), & Golden Globe-winning series Boss (STARZ!) and Ron Howard’s film The Dilemma. You may spot Karen in the upcoming feature film, Mother's Milk, directed by Miles Joris-Peyrafitte.
AJA SINGLETARY (Racine) [she/her] is excited to make her A Red Orchid debut. She graduated from Fordham University and also trained at the School at Steppenwolf. Recent credits include Factotum (Lyric), Athena (Writers Theatre), Relentless (TimeLine), Dance Nation (Steppenwolf), Eclipsed (Pegasus), American Revolution (Theatre Unspeakable), and As You Like It (Eclectic Full Contact Theatre). She is also represented by Gray Talent Group. Offstage, you'll catch Aja quoting SpongeBob, liking food videos, and teaching dance. Aja thanks her family, friends and the Is God Is team for their support! More info at ajasingletary.com.
ASHLI RENE FUNCHES (Anaia) [all pronouns used respectfully] is currently working as an actor, educator, and florist. They are from Birmingham, Alabama, but she considers Chicago her artistic home. Ashli’s recent credits include Life and Death of King John (Shakespeare & Company), Detroit 67 (The Theatre School), and Stew (Shattered Globe). Ashli received their BFA in Acting and a BA in African Diaspora from DePaul University. There, they wrote and produced a film entitled A Yellow Circus. She focuses on work rooted in anti-imperialist agendas, but most importantly, the decolonization of all bodies through the encouragement of free movement and play.
SHERMAN EDWARDS (Chuck Hall) [he/him] is ecstatic to be working with A Red Orchid Theatre again after previously being a part of its productions of The Malignant Ampersands and Killing Game. He was named 2012’s ‘Best Stand-Up Comic in Chicago’ by the Chicago Reader and has been lucky enough to perform at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland and a few other cool places. TV and Film credits include Southside on HBOMax, FOX’s Empire, Chicago PD on NBC, and the independent film Monuments, among others. He'd like to give a special shout-out to Brittany and Romy as they are expecting another addition to the family very soon. He is represented by Stewart Talent.
DONOVAN SESSION (Riley) [he/him] is proud to be making his A Red Orchid debut! Theatre credits include: The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington (Steppenwolf), The Magnolia Ballet (About Face Theatre), At the Wake of a Dead Drag Queen (Urbanite Theatre), Kill Move Paradise (Timeline Theatre), Leftovers (Something Marvelous Theatre), Sugar in Our Wounds (First Floor Theatre), Non-Player Character (Red Theatre), Everybody (Brown Bag Theatre), Six Degrees of Separation and Surely Goodness and Mercy (Redtwist Theatre). Film/TV credits include: Work in Progress (Showtime). This performance is dedicated to the gay Black boys who, when faced with adversity, chose violence. Go get 'em, sis! "I became an artist, and thank God I did, because we are the only profession to celebrate what it means to live a life." -Viola Davis. Instagram: @slaysession
ANDREW MUWONGE (Scotch) [he/him]: Chicago credits include Bug u/s (Steppenwolf Theatre); A Swell in the Ground, TEN (The Gift Theatre); Don’t Go Gentle (Haven Theatre); The Last Cadillac (American Demigods); Freedom Code (Greatworks Theatre); City of Conversation u/s (Northlight Theatre); Q Brothers Christmas Carol u/s (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre). Regional credits include The Brothers Size (Milwaukee Chamber Theatre); The Christians, UnSilent Night, Twillight: Los Angeles 1992, (Next Act Theatre); Freedom High (Uprooted Theatre). Touring: Othello: The Remix, Letters Home. Film: Seeing the Elephant, Top Dog. TV: Justified: City Primeval, 61st Street. Education: BFA, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Represented by Stewart Talent. www.AndrewMuwonge.com
RITA WICKS (Angie) [she/her] is a Chicago based actor and singer. She attended Illinois State University for her first two years and is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a Bachelors in Acting. Her most recent credits are the film PERDIDO as Monique Ali and Ensemble in Jane: Abortion & The Underground, which is on On-Demand until May 11th. Rita is beyond grateful to take part in telling such a bold & dynamic story such as Is God Is and is thankful for all who support her.
KEVIN MINOR (Man) [he/him]: Kevin (known to family and friends as “Chris”, which, he is finally ready to admit, he lowkey actually prefers) is honored to be making his AROT debut. Some of his favorite credits include Sweat (Asolo Rep), A Raisin in the Sun (Virginia Rep), and Hamlet (St. Louis Shakespeare), as well as The Chi (Showtime). Kevin is represented by Stewart Talent and is the Co-Artistic Director of The Passage Theatre. He would like to thank God, his family, friends, and students for their continued support and motivation. Kevin would also like to let you know that you're absolutely correct: he would be perfect in one of the Walking Dead spinoffs. Website: www.kevinalicea.com
Fact Sheet / Is God Is
Title: Is God Is
Written by: Aleshea Harris
Directed by: Marti Gobel
Featuring: Ensemble Member Karen Aldridge (She) with Sherman Edwards (Chuck Hall), Ashli Rene Funches(Anaia), Kevin Minor (Man), Andrew Muwonge (Scotch), Donovan Session (Riley), Aja Singletary(Racine) & Rita Wicks (Angie).
Creative Team: Sydney Lynne (Scenic), Gregory Graham (Costumes), Janelle Smith (Assistant Costume Designer), Levi Wilkins (Lights), Daniel Etti-Williams (Sound), Jennifer Wernau (Props), Kemet Gobel (Composer), Jyreika Guest (Fight Choreographer), Tom Daniel (Technical Director), Michelle Levinson (Stage Manager), Patrick Starner (Production Manager), Detra Payne (Assistant Director), Martine Kai Green (Dramaturg), and Peter Ruiz (Assistant Dramaturg).
Previews: April 6 – 14, 2023
Press Performances: Saturday, April 15 at 3:00pm and 7:30pm
Opening: Sunday, April 16, 2023
Regular Run: April 20 – May 28, 2023
- Thursdays: 7:30 p.m.
- Fridays: 7:30 p.m.
- Saturdays: 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
- Sundays: 3:00 p.m.
Location: A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells St.
$15-$25 previews, $30-$40 regular run.
($30 Thurs, $35 Fri & Sat Matinee, $40 Sat evening & Sun matinee)
1531 N. Wells St., Chicago
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FLASHPASSES and individual tickets may be purchased online at www.aredorchidtheatre.org.
A Red Orchid Theatre remains grateful for the support of our board, donors, and loyal audience who continue to champion our ambitious and powerful storytelling. And we welcome you to join our Red League, Founders Circle, or Orchid Visionary members. These philanthropic leaders foster the development of raw and relevant work: creating a platform for our talented Ensemble to reach new audiences, and ensuring that we remain a source for honest, compassionate, and aesthetically rigorous theatre. To learn more, please contact Individual Giving Coordinator Stephanie Shum at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-943-8722.
A Red Orchid will no longer check vaccination status for entry. We do follow the community masking guidelines recommended by Chicago Department of Public Health and CDC Community Risk Levels (https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/sites/covid-19/home/covid-dashboard.html). When Community Risk Level is HIGH (red), high-quality masks are required during your time at AROT. At all other levels, masks are optional but strongly encouraged. We will be posting the current Risk Level (HIGH, MEDIUM, or LOW) at all performances and providing masks to patrons who need them.
These policies are subject to change based on guidance provided by the CDC, as well as local and state public health authorities. A Red Orchid is grateful for our community’s cooperation in keeping our audiences, artists, and employees safe.
About A Red Orchid
A Red Orchid Theatre has served as an artistic focal point in the heart of the Old Town community of Chicago since 1993 and was honored with a 2016 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. Over the past 30 years, its Resident Ensemble has welcomed into its fold an impressive array of award-winning actors, playwrights, and theatre artists with the firm belief that live theatre is the greatest sustenance for the human spirit. A Red Orchid is well known and highly acclaimed for its fearless approach to performance and design in the service of unflinchingly intimate stories.
A Red Orchid Theatre is: Karen Aldridge, Lance Baker, Kamal Angelo Bolden, Dado, Mike Durst, Myron Elliott-Cisneros, Jennifer Engstrom, Kirsten Fitzgerald, Joseph Fosco, Steve Haggard, Levi Holloway, Mierka Girten, Larry Grimm, Karen Kawa, Karen Kessler, Travis A. Knight, Danny McCarthy, Shade Murray, Brett Neveu, Sadieh Rifai, Grant Sabin, Steve Schine, Michael Shannon, Guy Van Swearingen, Doug Vickers, and Natalie West.