(HOBOKEN, NJ) -- Mile Square Theatre (MST) will begin Kevin R. Free’s first season as Artistic Director with Angelica Chéri’s Berta, Berta, which will be directed by Free. After committing an unforgivable crime, Leroy is granted one final wish: a chance to make amends with his long-lost lover Berta. Their reunion swells from a quarrelsome conjuring of the past to an impassioned plot to escape their impending fate. Berta, Berta runs from September 21 through October 16.
In this “enthralling story of love” (DC Theater Arts), Leroy, bloody and broken, re-enters Berta’s life after three years of estrangement, looking to heal himself in Berta’s arms. He finds that Berta has wounds of her own, and that the path for each of them to become whole again isn’t as easy as falling in love. Set against the backdrop of the American South in the early 20th century, the play weaves a mystic tale of passion, redemption, and the kind of power love can wield.
Kevin R. Free, Mile Square Theatre’s Artistic Director states, “I wanted the first play of my first season to be both classic and speak to the future of the organization. Berta, Berta - set in the early 1900s, but written in the 21st century - bridges the gap between the classical plays MST produced in its early days on the waterfront and the new plays we will produce going forward. ”
The production stars Ashleigh Awusie* (PLAY THIS AT MY FUNERAL, Nowness Festival) as Berta and LeRoy S. Graham III* (Pass Over, Marin Theatre Company) as Leroy. *Performing courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association.
Berta, Berta plays the following regular schedule through Sunday, October 16: Wednesdays at 8:00pm; Thursdays at 8:00pm; Fridays at 8:00pm; Saturdays at 8:00pm; and Sundays at 3:00pm. Tickets are $30-45 and are available for purchase online. Tickets may also be purchased in-person at the theater an hour before the performance. Running time is 90 minutes.
The production features scenic design by Matthew J. Fick, costume design by Allison Esannason, and lighting design by Nikki Belenski. Nathanael Brown is the sound designer; Emmett Grosland is the props supervisor; Shaun Bennet Fauntleroy is the intimacy choreographer; and Lisa R. Stafford* is the stage manager.
Mile Square Theatre is located at 1400 Clinton Street in Hoboken, New Jersey. The theatre company was founded in 2003 as a non-profit professional theatre. MST’s mission is to enrich and engage the region through the production of professional theatre and innovative arts education. MST produces professional theatre year round, including shows for young audiences and our annual festival of plays about baseball, 7th Inning Stretch.
ANGELICA CHÉRI (Playwright) Angelica Chéri is a playwright, musical theatre bookwriter/lyricist, screenwriter and poet. The plays of her “Prophet’s Cycle Trilogy” include The Seeds of Abraham (Signature Theatre, Billie Holiday Theatre, mentored by Lynn Nottage), The Sting of White Roses (North Carolina Black Repertory Company, National Black Theatre Festival) and Crowndation; I Will Not Lie to David (National Black Theatre-I AM SOUL Residency). Other plays include Berta, Berta (World Premiere at CATF), Slow Gin Fits (Fire This Time Festival) and Learn to Speak Doll (Peppercorn Theatre Commission), a children's play.
Angelica is one of six playwrights selected for the inaugural Writers' Room at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. She served as Master Playwright in the Frank Silvera Writer’s Workshop Inaugural 3in3 Playwright Festival, and has written for the Obie-Award-Winning 48 Hours in Harlem Festival. Angelica and collaborator Ross Baum received the prestigious Richard Rodgers Award for their musical Gun & Powder, which has also been selected for the 30th annual NAMT Festival of New Musicals. Gun & Powder has been developed at Goodspeed Musicals, Two River Theater, the NYU Center for New Musicals, the 2017 SigWorks Lab and the NEXT Festival at Theatre Latté Da. Other public presentations include Broadway’s Future Songbook concert series at Lincoln Center and the Drama League’s 2018 DirectorFest. Also with Baum, Angelica was commissioned by Diverging Elements Theatre Company to write the short children’s play A Letter to Auntie Rosa as well as the official anthem of the National Children’s Theater of South Africa. Her TV pilot Derailed was a semi-finalist in both Showtime's Tony Cox Episodic Screenplay Competition and the Episodic Comedy Colony in conjunction with the 2017 Nantucket Film Festival. She is a proud member of The Dramatists' Guild and the New Play Exchange. Angelica received her BA in Theatre from UCLA, MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University and MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU.
ASHLEIGH AWUSIE* (Berta) is a Ghanaian-Panamanian actress from Harlem and graduate from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. Currently she can be seen in the Ray Smiling short, Play This At My Funeral. Recent projects include a Boaz Yakin film, A&E/History, and stunts with Jared Kirby at New York Combat for Stage & Screen. Other credits: UK: “Kasimir & Karoline” at The Gate Theatre in London, “Machinal” at the Richard Burton Theatre and her solo play, “Anansi” at the Caird Studio Theatre in Wales. Off-Broadway & Regional: Danai Gurira’s “Eclipsed” at Milwaukee Rep, “Dreamprints: A Conversation with Harriet Tubman” at Syracuse Stage, “Ain't Never Been Easy” at Castillo Theatre, and “Shakespeare in the Boroughs” with the Public Theater. Film/TV: Naz & Maalik (Netflix, Hulu), and host for BrainPOP. Ashleigh is beyond thrilled to be making her return to the stage in Berta Berta.
LEROY S. GRAHAM III* (Leroy) Past credits include: Pass Over (Marin Theater Company); A Christmas Carol (Golden Gate Theater); Of Mice and Men (ACT MFA); The Substitution (ACT); Luce (Meadowbrook Theater); The Birds (Cortland Rep); If A Tree Falls (film); The Rest Is History: Alfred L. Cralle (commercial). You can also hear Graham talk about himself in a segment of NPR titled California Graduate On Making It In Theater During A Pandemic.
KEVIN R. FREE (Director) Selected Directing credits : Black & Blue (Ars Nova ANTFest); Pass Over (Marin Theatre Company); Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill (with Tracey Conyer Lee, Peterborough Players; Portland Stage); Last Ship to Proxima Centauri (Portland Stage); It’s A Wonderful Life; Pipeline and The Burdens (all at Mile Square Theatre); Marcus; or, The Secret of Sweet (UNLV); EVERYBODY (Hofstra University). Former: Producing Artistic Director, The Fire This Time Festival (Obie Award).