Company Of Angels Premieres RISE By Kimba Henderson

Follows a Boyle Heights African American woman's poignant and haunting journey through the decades and why she could never leave.

By: Sep. 21, 2023
Company Of Angels Premieres RISE By Kimba Henderson

Company Of Angels Premieres RISE By Kimba Henderson

Company of Angels presents the world premiere of RISE, a poignant journey throughout the decades of an African American woman born and bred in Boyle Heights.

As the neighborhood evolves, this love story unfolds the ties that bind her to it, unraveling the tragic mystery behind her unrelenting resolve to never leave. Written by Company of Angels (CoA)-commissioned playwright Kimba Henderson (2023 Fox Entertainment TV drama fellow and currently a resident in The Black List/Women in Film Screenwriting Program) and directed by Lui Sanchez (Company of Angels Associate Artistic Director; playwright and director for CoA, USC School of Theatre, Urban Possibilities, The Deltoid Performance Group, and Take Fountain Theatre). Performances take place October 7 through November 5 at the Company of Angels Theater in Boyle Heights, with one low-priced preview beginning October 6.


The Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights was once known as the Ellis Island of the west coast, a multicultural haven, providing a home to European and Asian immigrants, Latinos, and African Americans. This rich convergence of cultures resulted in a unique tapestry of American life in the much beloved and historic community of Boyle Heights.


Through a previous project with Impro Theatre which looked at Boyle Heights through the lens of Japanese American, Jewish and Latine communities, there began a growing interest in wanting to explore the black community through an original play. Many don't know that African Americans had a strong presence in Boyle Heights back in the day.


CoA commissioned playwright Kimba Henderson to create this play. In addition to her being an amazing writer, CoA had worked with her before, including taking part in CoA's Playwrights group. In addition, Henderson has a postgraduate history background and research for RISE was right up her alley. CoA connected with members of the African American community who either grew up in Boyle Heights or had family from the area and they held Story Circles at the theater. Henderson was able to talk with this group, hear their stories and love for Boyle Heights. After months of research and development, CoA held their first invite-only reading in February 2023 via zoom. From there, Henderson worked on re-writes based on the feedback received. Another reading, this time in-person, was held this past July which was open to the public and included a talk-back with Henderson after the reading.


“In a time when America is wildly divided particularly along racial lines, I was stunned to discover Boyle Heights was a historically multiracial neighborhood which boasted a diversity that was organic and proved to be an advantage to many residents as they went out into the world. Despite differences in race, faith, and culture, neighbors inspired by the American dream supported, celebrated, and learned from each other,” exclaimed Henderson. “Personally, I was compelled to tell a story about a uniquely African American family shaped by this extraordinary neighborhood that presents a sense of place unlike anywhere else. Rise is a love letter to Boyle Heights, and I hope it gives the audience a glimpse of what is possible in the communities' we humans call home.”


The cast who each play multiple characters include Miles Bryant (standup comic and actor who has performed in Hollywood Fringe Festival productions as well as with Inner City Arts and other companies) plays Kenji/Detective Tom/Scott; Justeen Butler (CSU Northridge graduate and actress in multiple plays and shorts) as Young Emmeline/Grace; RaeAnne Carlson (has worked on productions with Lit Live Theatre, Elite Theatre Company, and more) as Tizzy/Mina/Kate; Doug Kaback (directed at The Old Globe, Cornerstone, LATC, Odyssey Theatre; a playwright and actor) as Saul/Mr. Ralphs/David/ White Cop; Julianna Stephanie Ojeda (actress and associate producer with CoA) plays Veronica/Ramirez/Maria; Sherrick O'Quinn (Boyle Heights Anthology at CoA, many film credits) plays Sam/Bruce; Bernadette Speakes (accomplished actor, highly acclaimed director, award-winning filmmaker) plays Old Emmeline/Harriet/Julia; and Markhum Stansbury, Jr. (award-winning actor in multiple feature films, award-winning poet) plays Phil/John/Raymond.


The creative team includes scenic designer Lui Sanchez, scenic design consultant Justin Huen, set builder Raul Vega Martinez, lighting designer Max Brother, sound and video designer Veronica Bowers, costume designer Mylette Nora, prop master Shen Heckel, production stage manager Max Tel and assistant stage manager Cassandra Castillo-Tapia. Lui Sanchez is also a producer on RISE, along with producers Armando Molina, Nakasha Norwood, and assistant producer Jose Medrano.


As the oldest non-profit professional theater in Los Angeles, Company of Angels produces theater that reflects and responds to the richness, diversity, and complexity that is our city. A theater company of diverse theater artists fostering mutual learning partnerships with the residents of Los Angeles. Company of Angels develops emerging artists, creates new work, and re-envisions theater to entertain new audiences and serve the City of Angels. Company of Angels is proudly in partnership and in residence at Legacy LA, a youth empowerment non-profit.


Company of Angels is dedicated to creating theater that is deeply connected to its community. We aim to share and help give voice to the many stories that exist in our community. With a collective of Actors, Directors, Playwrights, Designers, and Administrators, Company of Angels forges ongoing and meaningful relationships with the residents of Los Angeles.


RISE runs October 6 through November 5, with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 7 p.m. There will be a preview performance on Friday, October 6. Special preview tickets available for October 6 for only $10. Tickets to all performances are $25; $15 students and seniors (65+) Group discounts are available for groups of 10 or more at $12 per person (Promo code GROUP).


Company of Angels Theater is located at 1350 San Pablo Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033. Limited free parking and street parking available.


For reservations and information, please visit Click Here or go to

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