FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS, PARTS 1, 2 & 3 Comes to Quintessence Theatre

Performances run May 29 - June 23 .

By: May. 08, 2024
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FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS, PARTS 1, 2 & 3 Comes to Quintessence Theatre

 Quintessence Theatre has announced the Philadelphia Premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks’ acclaimed play, Father Comes Home From The Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3. Parks is the first African-American woman awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for TopDog/Underdog, which won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a play in 2023. Parks was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2022. 

Inspired by Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey, ‘Father Comes Home’ flips the Civil War narrative of North vs. South, Confederacy vs. Union, and sets the stage for a journey to “freedom” as history charges toward the Emancipation Proclamation.  Parks’ received an American Theatre Wing  Obie Award for Playwriting following the off-Broadway premiere of Father Comes Home From the Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3 and the play was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist, a 2015  winner of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for a theatrical work inspired by American History, and was a 2015 Lucille Lortel nominee for Outstanding Play. 

Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3 is set to run May 29 - June 23 . Opening Night is Saturday, June 1 at 7:30PM. All performances are at Quintessence’s home - the historic Sedgwick Theater located at 7137 Germantown Avenue in Mt. Airy.  Tickets start at $25 and are available online at www.quintessencetheatre.org. A Pay-What-You-Can performance is May 29 at 7 p.m. 

Suzan-Lori Parks is one of the pillars of the American Theatre: O’Neill, Miller, Williams, Wilson and Parks. Her plays are as epic as Schiller, and her poetry as rich as Shakespeare. Her plays flip American history on its head, and in the process makes you understand it and yourself better,” says Founding Artistic Director Alex Burns. “In Parks’ reimagines Homer’s epic poem and the Oresteia in West Texas during the American Civil War. Experiencing the end of the Civil War and the events around Juneteenth from the perspective of a family of enslaved persons is revelatory, but Parks’ true genius is in not allowing her story to end in blood and death, but with self actualization, communal healing and care, and with hope. This is epic classic American Theatre at its very finest.”

In Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3, Hero, an enslaved Texan, is offered a deal - join his master in the Confederate army with the promise of emancipation if he survives - or remain with his true love, Penny, and work the plantation.  Creating a new Black American history cycle, Parks changes our perspective on the American Civil War and dramatizes the events leading up to Juneteenth. Told as a trilogy, ‘Father Comes Home’ is poetic and lyrical, filled with music, wit, and truth. 

Raelle Myrick-Hodges returns to Philadelphia and directs for the first time at Quintessence. This is her first show back in Philadelphia after the pandemic. In 2018, she directed The Bluest Eye at the Arden and How We Got On at Azuka Theatre. She is one of the founders of Azuka Theatre and a former Arden Theatre Company Apprentice. It was during her apprenticeship that she discovered the work of Suzan-Lori Parks, who was an Artist in Residence at The Wilma Theater  at the time. She was George C. Wolfe’s Assistant Director for the original production of Parks’  Topdog/Underdog, which moved from The Public Theater to Broadway.

"I was a fan of SLP's work when I was an apprentice at the Arden Theatre Company,” said Myrick-Hodges. “I literally wrote her a thank you letter after she did a sharing of Venus at The Wilma Theater. She is the playwright that taught me my Blackness in America is historical, classic, and worth celebrating."

The cast includes several Quintessence debuts including Kelechi Udenkwo as Hero, Deja Anderson-Ross* as Penny, Eric Carter* as Homer, Donovan Whitney* as Smith, Peter Bisgaier* as Colonel, and Jordan Fidalgo, and Ivana R. Thompson as part of the Chorus. Anderson-Ross was recently awarded Best Actress for her role in the film Players Only, by the Queens Underground International Film Festival. The film also won Best Drama and Best Cinematography. Monroe Barrick returns to Quintessence, after appearing in Major Barbara earlier this season, as the Oldest Old Man and Steven Wright* returns as the Chorus Leader and Odyssey Dog, after appearing  in The Fantasticks, Cure At Troy, Oliver! and Uncle Vanya. 

Myrick-Hodges directs. Michael Kiley is the Music Director and Sound Designer. Meghan Jones is the Scenic Designer. Eliot Curtis is the Props Designer. Tiffany Bacon is the Costume Designer.  Isabella Gill is the Lighting Designer. Bess Rowan is the Intimacy Coordinator. 

"Ms. Parks adaptations are classic, but not for the traditional reasons you would anticipate: In Father Comes Home From the Wars Parts 1, 2, & 3 an audience is not simply experiencing a 'contemporary classic',” adds Myrick-Hodges. “So aside from the intellectual perspective of a narrative inspired by Homer's The Odyssey, the audience is given classic emotional themes of love, betrayal and the most classic theme of all: what is home and how to get there. These themes are universal and bring community and art to the same place."

On June 9th, Quintessence is hosting a presentation and fundraiser for Germantown-based Lest We Forget Museum of Slavery. Co-founder and Executive Director, Gwen Ragsdale will exhibit and present the museum’s rare collection of objects, documents and artifacts at 1PM, and will be available after the performance for a Q & A. The gathering is a Pay-What-You-Can with all proceeds benefiting the museum. A ticket to the 3PM performance is not required to attend the 1PM gathering, but attendees will be offered a ticket discount.   


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