This Bitter Earth
Feb 22 – Mar 22, 2020
by Harrison David Rivers
Directed by Otis Ramsey–Zöe
“In the dream I was at a party
In a penthouse somewhere
And everyone was black.
From the darkest night to caramel to white chocolate
Every shade and hue.
Size and shape
And EVERYONE was in costume!
Lorraine was dressed as Josephine Baker.
Ralph Ellison as Alex Haley.
Beautiful, elusive ephemeral Langston was present and accounted for and dressed as
Queen Latifah was there dressed as you know who
Dear Jimmy Baldwin
Who I’ve always had a little crush on, but could never seem to work up the nerve to ask out for
coffee, was there“
Jesse, an introspective black playwright, finds his lack of activism questioned by his white boyfriend, Neil, an impassioned member of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Tensions between them continue to grow with each headline announcing another extrajudicial killing. But the human heart can hold complex and often contradictory things, and the two men find themselves at a crossroads. This Bitter Earth explores the quiet revolutions of normalcy, reminding us of the intractable bind between the personal and political and the strength of love in today’s turbulent world.
Notice as of 3/13/2020: Due to mounting COVID-19 concerns, performances of This Bitter Earth have been suspended. We apologize to anyone who wished to see this production in its final two weekends, but the health of our artists and patrons is of our utmost concern.
Chicago Tribune: THIS BITTER EARTH (review)
Cast and production
Jesse | Justin Weaks
Neil | Noah Schaefer
Director | Otis Ramsey-Zöe
Assistant Director | Vaughan Midder
Production Stage Manager | Thomas Nagata
Lighting Designer | John Alexander
Scenic Designer | Brian Gillick
Projections Designer | Nitsan Scharf
Costume Designer | Brandee Mathies
Sound Designer | Justin Schmitz
Intimacy Choreographer | Dane Figueroa Edidi
Props Designer | Eric Swartz
Scenic Charge | Leila Spolter
Master Electrician | Elliott Shugoll
Line Producer | Aria Velz
Assistant Stage Manager | Genny Ceperley