Definition Theatre Company Presents The World Premiere Of ETHIOPIANAMERICA

By: Apr. 08, 2019

Definition Theatre Company presents ETHIOPIANAMERICA in the Richard Christiansen Theater at Victory Gardens as part of its Resident Theater Company program. Tickets for ETHIOPIANAMERICA are on sale and can be purchased online at or by calling 773.871.3000. Victory Gardens Theater is located at 2433 N Lincoln Avenue.

If the American dream is a privilege, not a right, then Girma and Elizabeth Kifle have truly earned it. After emigrating from Ethiopia to the United States with nothing, the couple is poised to send their eldest son to college. But everything behind Girma and Elizabeth's white picket fence is not as it appears to be. The ghosts of the life they left in Ethiopia threaten to destroy their American dream before it starts, and the Kifle sons, Jonathan and Daniel, reckon with being American in Ethiopian bodies. In this tense and sharply-drawn family drama, playwright Sam Kebede mines the immigrant experience and asks how far each of us will go to find a place we can call home.

Artistic Director Tyrone Phillips notes, Definition Theatre continues to add new voices to the American theater cannon. Sam Kebede and Sophiyaa Nayar are incredible first-generation artists that aren't afraid to ask hard questions. I am elated to conclude Definition's residency at Victory Gardens with a play as grounded in Definition's mission and artistic aesthetic as ETHIOPIANAMERICA.

The cast of ETHIOPIANAMERICA includes Simon Gebremedhin, Gabrielle Lott-Rogers, Freedom Martin and Joseph Primes.

The creative team for ETHIOPIANAMERICA includes Eleanor Kahn (Set Designer), Paul Kim (Costume Designer), Eric Watkins (Lighting Designer), Joshua Wilcox (Sound Designer), Therese Ritchie (Properties Designer), Sana Selemon (Dialect Coach), Rebecca Ross (Production Stage Manager), Ariel Beller (Assistant Stage Manager) Ebony Chuukwu (Assistant Director), Athanasia Giannetos (Dramaturg), Neel McNeill (Production Manager) and Alex Oparka (Assistant Production Manager).

As a first-generation Ethiopian immigrant himself, playwright Sam Kebede explains that the decision to write ETHIOPIANAMERICA was fueled by a lack of Ethiopian representation in American theater. In my entire life as a theater maker, I've never encountered a play about an Ethiopian family, notes Kebede. More than anything, I want Ethiopians and other first-generation immigrants to see themselves in this story. And I want everyone who sees ETHIOPIANAMERICA to know that we are here. Our lives are just as complicated, just as full of hunger, pain, love, joy, and strife as anyone else's. Our stories are worthy of a place on the American stage.

Director Sophiyaa Nayar was motivated to work on ETHIOPIANAMERICA because the play's complex characters intrigued her. Sam has beautifully interwoven the American and Ethiopian experiences to create a family that is painfully relatable, Nayar elaborates. Having been raised in India, I find so much of myself and my experience in America in the intricacies of the Kifle family's life and I am excited to share that with the audience."


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