Rivendell Theater to Open RASHEEDA SPEAKING, 1/18

Rivendell Theater to Open RASHEEDA SPEAKING, 1/18

Rivendell Theatre Ensemble (RTE), Chicago's only Equity theatre devoted to the work of women theatre artists, announces the world premiere of Joel Drake Johnson's Rasheeda Speaking, directed by Sandy Shinner. Rasheeda Speaking features RTE Artistic Director Tara Mallen and Steppenwolf Ensemble member Ora Jones and runs January 9 - February 15, 2014 at Rivendell's performance venue, 5779 N. Ridge. Previews are Thursday, Jan. 9 - Saturday, Jan. 11 and Wednesday, Jan. 15 -Friday Jan. 17, 2014 at 8 p.m. Press Opening is Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at 7 p.m. with Opening Night Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014 at 6 p.m. The performance schedule is Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m. There are additional Wednesday performances January 22 and 29 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 for previews and $30 for all other performances and may be purchased online at www.RivendellTheatre.org or by phone, 773.334.7728.

Joel Drake Johnson's dark comedy Rasheeda Speaking tells the story of a successful white physician (Eric Slater) who attempts to oust his black receptionist (Ora Jones) by enlisting her white female co-worker (Tara Mallen) as a spy. Tensions rise as relations between the two women quickly deteriorate, turning their once cordial workplace into a battlefield of innuendo, paranoia and passive aggression. Using his trademark wit and detailed observation, Johnson mines the subtleties of "post racial" America to explore what we are really saying when we refuse to talk about race.

This production reunites long-time playwright/director team, Joel Drake Johnson and Sandy Shinner, who most recently collaborated on Tranquillity Woods as part of Steppenwolf's First Look Repertory of New Work. The cast of Rasheeda Speaking features RTE Artistic Director Tara Mallen and Steppenwolf ensemble member Ora Jones, who was last seen on Rivendell's stage in Knowing Cairo. Additional cast members are RTE member Eric Slater who recently performed on the Goodman Stage in Noah Haidle's Smokefall and guest artist Lorraine Freund.

The production team includes RTE members Megan Wilkerson (set), Diane Fairchild (lights), Victoria DeIorio (sound), with Samantha C. Jones (costumes), Danielle Case (props), Kristina Valada-Viars (stage manager) Hannah Baker (assistant stage manager) and Ebony Joy (assistant director).

Joel Drake Johnson is a Chicago based playwright whose plays Four Places, Before My Eyes, A Guide for the Perplexed (featuring Tony-Award Nominee Kevin Anderson and Jeff-Award Winner Francis Guinan) and The End of the Tour were first produced at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater under the direction of Sandy Shinner. Four Places was subsequently produced in Los Angeles by The Rogue Machine Theatre, where it garnered five Ovation Award nominations, four nominations (including best play) from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle and a Garland Award for Best New Play. Johnson penned The Fall to Earth (Rick Snyder, director), which premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre and featured Tony-Award Winner Rondi Reed. His plays A Blameless Life (Anna D. Shapiro, director) and Tranquillity Woods (Sandy Shinner, director) were both produced as part of Steppenwolf's First Look Repertory of New Work. He is currently working on several new projects including 22 Mistakes for Next Theatre this coming season and A Queer Kiss for Deep Dish Theatre in Chapel Hill, NC. His work has been nominated four times for Chicago's Jefferson Award for Best New Work and has received critically acclaimed productions across the country.

Sandy Shinner, a veteran Chicago director, is the producing artistic director of Shattered Globe Theatre Company. Shinner previously held the position of associate artistic director of Victory Gardens Theatre for more than thirty years. She has directed 100-plus productions at theaters including Actors Theatre of Louisville, Steppenwolf, Remy Bummpo and American Blues Theater, created and produced the nationally known IGNITION! Festival at Victory Gardens and was co-director of the award-winning Access Project. Shinner returns to RTE after directing the acclaimed Crooked in 2012.

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