Cast Set for Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre's THIS BITTER EARTH

Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre Presents THIS BITTER EARTH - Sunday, October 29 at 3 PM.

By: Oct. 02, 2023
Cast Set for Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre's THIS BITTER EARTH

Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre announces casting for THIS BITTER EARTH, to play October 28 – November 12.
An interracial gay male couple navigates differences amidst events of the BLM movement.

Evanston, IL – Casting has been announced for the final production of Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre's 2023 season, the two-character drama THIS BITTER EARTH, by Harrison David Rivers. Rivers is a St. Paul, Minnesota-based playwright whose plays have been produced by such leading companies as New York's Roundabout Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Center, Seattle Public, TheatreWorks Hartford, and Penumbra. Set between 2012 and 2015 against the events of the Black Lives Matter movement, THIS BITTER EARTH is a drama about an interracial gay male couple who must navigate the differences in their backgrounds and attitudes toward activism, in addition to the other challenges of committed relationships. FJT Artistic Director Tim Rhoze will direct. It will play October 28 - November 12, 2023. Press opening is Sunday, October 29 at 3:00 pm, at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre in the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes Street in Evanston.
Rhoze's cast will include Matthew Lolar-Johnson as the introspective Black playwright Jesse Howard, and Tiemen Godwaldt as Neil Finley-Darden, a white Black Lives Matter activist from a privileged East Coast background. Lolar-Johnson's credits include CHOIR BOY and 1919 at Steppenwolf Theatre. Godwaldt comes to Fleetwood-Jourdain with extensive credits with The Acting Company of South Bend, Indiana, where he has played such iconic roles as Prior Walter in ANGELS IN AMERICA and David O. Selznick in MOONLIGHT AND MAGNOLIAS. The production team includes Tim Rhoze (Director/Co-Set Designer/Sound Designer), David Goodman-Edberg (Lighting Designer), Bria Walker (Costumer), and Shane Rogers (Technical Director/Co-Set Designer).

Click here or on images to access files

Pictured above: Mathew Lolar-Johnson, Tiemen Godwaldt. Click on images to access files.

Performances will be Saturdays at 7:00 pm and Sundays at 3:00 pm, at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre in the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St., Evanston. Tickets are $30.00 and are on sale now at


by Harrison David Rivers
Directed by Tim Rhoze
October 28 – November 12, 2023
Saturdays at 7 pm, Sundays at 3 pm
Press opening Sunday, October 29 at 3 pm
Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre in the Noyes Cultural Arts Center
927 Noyes St., Evanston
Tickets $30.00 – For a limited time, use the code: FJT2023 when purchasing tickets online for a $10.00 discount per ticket. 
Tickets on sale now at
Phone 847-866-5914
A deep love is challenged by divisive political realities. Jesse, an introspective Black playwright, finds his choices called into question when his boyfriend, Neil, a white, Black Lives Matter activist, calls him out for his political apathy. As passions and priorities collide, this couple is forced to reckon with issues of race, class, and the bravery it takes to love out loud.


(Neil) is happy to make his debut with Fleetwood-Jourdain, hailing all the way from South Bend, Indiana. Growing up, Tiemen would audition for anything available and would go on to get his BA in theater from Northwestern College. While living in Indiana, Tiemen has worked extensively with local theater companies, starring as Prior Walter in ANGELS IN AMERICA and David O. Selznick in MOONLIGHT AND MAGNOLIAS. He recently wrapped up a touring one man show called KLUCKERS. When not on stage, he is with his partner and their three cats.


(Jesse) is excited to return to Fleetwood-Jourdain's stage. Chicago credits include CHOIR BOY and 1919 (Steppenwolf Theatre), THE MEETING (Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre); CARDBOARD PIANO (Timeline Theatre). Regional credits: THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHTTIME (Yellowtree Theatre). Matthew holds a BFA from The Theatre School at DePaul University. He is represented by Gray Talent "Love to family, friends and above all else God” @mlj_16

Harrison David Rivers

(Playwright) is an award-winning playwright, librettist, and television writer based in St. Paul, Minnesota. His plays include THE BANDAGED PLACE (Roundabout, New York Stage & Film),  WE ARE CONTINUOUS (Geva Theatre Center, Williamstown Theatre Center), THIS BITTER EARTH (Seattle Public, TheatreWorks Hartford, InterAct, The Road, Richmond Triangle Players, Theater Alliance, About Face, Penumbra, New Conservatory Theatre Center), WHERE STORMS ARE BORN (Williamstown Theatre Festival), WHEN LAST WE FLEW (Out Front, Real Live Arts, TheatreLAB, Diversionary, NYFringe), and the musicals FIVE POINTS with Douglas Lyons and Ethan Pakchar, WE SHALL SOMEDAY with Ted Shen, and I PUT A SPELL ON YOU with Nubya Garcia.


(Artistic Director, Director) Tim Rhoze has been the Producing Artistic Director of Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre since 2010. His directing credits include: THE BALDWIN |GIOVANNI EXPERIENCE, THE LIGHT, AMERICAN SON, HOME, TWILIGHT: LOS ANGELES 1992, THE MEETING, FIRES IN THE MIRROR, BLACK BALLERINA (co-writer),  NUTCRACKER(ISH), CROWNS, HAVING OUR SAY, FROM THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA, FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF, WOZA ALBERT!, GOING TO ST. IVES, SINGLE BLACK FEMALE, A SONG FOR CORETTA, YELLOWMAN, SWEET, LADY DAY AT EMERSON BAR & GRILL, BEAR COUNTRY, NOBODY, FENCES, THE PIANO LESSON, AIN'T MISBEHAVIN, K2, THE GLASS MENAGERIE, et. al. Tim was the co-creator and the director of FJT's recent THE BALDWIN|GIOVANNI EXPERIENCE and was also the writer/director of WHY NOT ME? A SAMMY DAVIS JR. STORY, and MAYA'S LAST POEM, both produced at FJT; and BLACK BALLERINA, produced at FJT and Pittsburgh Public Theatre. He was co-writer and director of A HOME ON THE LAKE, co-produced with the Piven Theatre Workshop.


(Costumer) is a multidisciplinary artist and educator based in Pittsburgh, PA. She is an Assistant Professor of Acting at Carnegie Mellon University and an Artistic Associate at Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre. She has been seen at theatres such as City Theatre, St. Louis Repertory Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theatre (Playtime Series), and Triad Stage, among others. Selected directing credits: OBAMA-OLOGY, co-director of CROWNS (Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre); FURY (Parker Theatre); staged reading OFF WITH HER MAIDENHEAD (The Pitch series for Merry-Go-Round Playhouse); EMILIA (Pitt); FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE/WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF (SUNY New Paltz). Selected writing credits: THE BALDWIN | GIOVANNI EXPERIENCE (Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre), CROSSROAD (City Theatre Spotlight Series); YOU THINK THE ARTS DON'T MATTER? WHAT ABOUT QUARANTINE? (PITTSBURGH-POST GAZETTE op-ed); CHANT (The Monologue Project). Education: MFA - Denver Center for the Performing Arts (National Theatre Conservatory); BFA - Wright State University.

David Goodman-EDBURG 

(Lighting Designer) is delighted to be working with Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre again after lighting THE BALDWIN | GIOVANNI EXPERIENCE, AMERICAN SON and HOME. Working in the worlds of dance, theatrical, and architectural lighting design, some recent projects include SUOR ANGELICA, GIANNI SCHICCHI and DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Bay View Music Festival); PASSING STRANGE (Theo Ubique); SPRINGTEN (Visceral Dance); DIE FLEDERMAUS (Opera Mississippi); THE SOLDIER'S TALE (Eisenhower Dance Detroit & Detroit Chamber Winds); and LIGHTS ON BROADWAY (Grant Park Music Festival). Other recent work has included associate design on projects at Universal Studios Beijing & Hollywood and touring with performance collective Manual Cinema and Eisenhower Dance Detroit.


Founded in 1979, Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre is a professional, award-winning theatre company that has been thrilling audiences with over four decades of unique, inspirational, and invigorating African American and African Diaspora-centered storytelling. The company has been honored with Black Theatre Alliance/Ira Aldridge Awards. From original plays to the best of Broadway, Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre has remained committed to supplying the very best in theatre. "Umoja!! ….Working Together in Unity" is the foundation from which FJT began and continues to thrive!
It is our mission to present powerful, thought-provoking, Theater Arts programming with a commitment to diversity and creative excellence. We are dedicated to providing a nurturing and creative environment for directors, playwrights, actors, set, light, and costume designers. In this positive environment, they can further develop their creative skills and share their artistic expressions. The Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre is funded by the City of Evanston and in part by the Illinois Arts Council, A State Agency.Cast Set for Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre's THIS BITTER EARTH

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