Backstage with BJ
Our popular discussion series with Artistic Director BJ Jones, featuring special guest artists, actors, directors and designers, offering behind-the-scenes insight into each production while it is still in rehearsal.Read More
by Donja R. Love
directed by Mikael Burke
January 20 - February 20, 2022
The Civil Rights Movement has ignited the South, and the charismatic Rev. Charles Grace needs a new speech to galvanize the people. But it is Olivia, his pregnant wife, who writes those fiery speeches, and her tolerance for playing the supporting role to her husband is wearing thin. As the growing weight of secrets threatens her marriage, and a nation’s hatred threatens her child’s future, Olivia must rediscover the place that love has in her world.
View the online program book.
Chanell Bell is an American storyteller and humanitarian. Born in Portsmouth Virginia, Chanell made her theatrical debut at nine years old. She received her BFA from Howard University and her MFA from DePaul. Previous performances include She The People (Second City), Crumbs from the Table of Joy (Raven), and Moon Man Walk (Definition) winning her the BTAA Most Promising Actress Award. Chanell can currently be seen on POWER IV (STARZ). Recent nominations include Best Supporting Actress at the New Jersey Film Awards. Chanell teaches young artists throughout the southside of Chicago and is proudly repped by Paonessa Talent & ATA Management.
Al’Jaleel is excited to return to Northlight Theatre so soon! He is a proud Chicago built actor- having received his B.A. in Theatre & Performance from UIC and his MFA in Acting from Northwestern University as a member of the inaugural Acting program cohort. He is represented by Gray Talent Group. Theatre credits include: Fireflies (Northlight), Wolf Play(The Gift), Hamlet (Chi. Shakespeare), Graveyard Shift (Goodman New Stages), To Catch A Fish, Paradise Blue (TimeLine), Breach (Victory Gardens Theater) and Blues For An Alabama Sky (Court Theatre). Film/Television credits include: Shining Girls (Apple), 61st Street (AMC), The Red Line (CBS), Chicago Med (NBC), Empire (FOX), The Chi (Showtime), Proud Mary (Sony Pictures).
Donja R. Love is an Afro-Queer playwright, poet, and filmmaker from Philadelphia. He’s the recipient of the 2018 Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award, the 2017 Princess Grace Playwriting Fellowship, The Lark’s 2016 Van Lier New Voices Playwriting Fellowship, The Playwrights Realm’s 2016-2017 Writing Fellowship, and the 2016 Arch and Bruce Brown Playwriting Award. He is a Eugene O’Neill 2018/2017 National Playwrights Conference finalist and the 2011 Philadelphia Adult Grand Slam Poetry Champion. His work has been developed at Manhattan Theatre Club, Rising Circle Theater Collective, The Lark, and The Playwrights Realm. He’s the co-founder of The Each-Other Project, an organization that helps build community and provide visibility, through art and advocacy, for LGBTQ People of Color. Select stage-plays include: The Love* Plays (Sugar in Our Wounds, Fireflies, and In The Middle), a trilogy which explores Queer Love* during pivotal moments in Black History; and Soft. Select film work includes: Modern Day Black Gay (web series), and Once A Star (short film). Training: Juilliard, Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program.
Mikael Burke is a Chicago-based director, deviser, and educator, and was the inaugural Artistic Fellow at Northlight in their 2018/2019 season. A Princess Grace Award-winner in Theatre and Jeff Award-nominated director, Mikael’s worked with Victory Gardens Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Jackalope Theatre Company, Windy City Playhouse, About Face Theatre, First Floor Theater, American Theatre Company, Chicago Dramatists, and The Story Theatre in Chicago, and regionally with Indiana Repertory Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Geva Theatre Center, and Phoenix Theatre. When not directing, Mikael serves as Associate Artistic Director at About Face Theatre in Chicago. Recent directing credits include Mrs. Harrison by R. Eric Thomas; The Island by Athol Fugard; we are continuous by Harrison David Rivers; Kill Move Paradise by James Ijames; The Agitators by Mat Smart | mklburke.com
Scott Penner is a Canadian-born, Chicago-based Set & Costume Designer for film and theatre. His work has been seen at the Prague Quadrennial, The Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Theatreworks (Colorado Springs), About Face Theatre (Chicago), The Grand Theatre (London), The Sudbury Theatre Centre, The Globe Theatre (Regina), Buddies in Bad Times (Toronto), and The Winnipeg Studio Theatre. Film & Television work includes: Assistant Costume Designer for Station Eleven (HBO Max) and Five Days at Memorial (Upcoming- Apple TV). Upcoming projects include Intimate Apparel (Northlight Theatre), Love’s Labour’s Lost & A Raisin in the Sun (American Players Theatre), and Rasheeda Speaking (Shattered Globe Theatre). Scott has his MFA from Northwestern University. www.scottpennerdesign.ca
Gregory Graham – Chicago: Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins (Strawdog Theater); The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice (Court Theatre); Dream: A Community Reimaging of A Midsummer’s Night Dream (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); Reverb (University of Illinois at Chicago School of Theater and Music); The Facts of Life: Satan’s School for Girls, The Drag Seed, Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes Vol.3, Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes-Valentine’s Day Edition (Hell in a Handbag Productions). Regional: Blood at the Root (Millikin University, School of Theatre and Dance). Education: BA in Theatre Design, University of Illinois. gregorygrahamdesign.com
Eric Watkins works as a lighting designer for theatre, opera, and dance across the country and occasionally around the world. Just before the pandemic he was in eastern Europe on tour of the world premiere piece Song of Home produced by Theatre Lumina. CHICAGO (selected): EthiopianAmerica (Definition Theatre Company); Sugar in Our Wounds and Hooded, Or Being Black for Dummies (First Floor Theater); Machinal (Greenhouse; Jeff nomination); In The Blood (Red Tape); A Swell In The Ground (Gift); The Man Who Was Thursday (Lifeline); Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery (Pegasus); Punk (New Colony); Fish Eye (Dandelion) The Safe House (City Lit); Bomber’s Moon (Williams Street Rep); Fallen (Mozawa); Porcelain (Prologue; Jeff nomination); The Property (Lyric Unlimited) a commissioned klezmer opera. REGIONAL/ INTERNATIONAL (selected): Mrs. Harrison (Indiana Rep); Don Pasquale (Fort Worth Opera); Show Boat, Falstaff (Dallas Opera); A Streetcar Named Desire (Opera Santa Barbara and Kentucky Opera); The Rake’s Progress (Merola Opera); Barber of Seville (Lithuanian National Opera). Eric received his MFA from Boston University and is a proud member of USA829, the theatrical design union. ericwatkins.com
Christie Chiles Twillie is a Music Director, Sound Designer and Composer. Composition credits include A Raisin in the Sun (Invictus); America 2.0 (Definition); The Niceties (Forward), VietGone (
Bren Coombs is a nonbinary producer and designer of film, theatre, events, and social media content. Recent theatre credits: Wellesley Girl (Compass); 8-track (Theo Ubique); Head Over Heels (Chicago College of Performing Arts); Year of the Queer (Fireflower Productions); How To Defend Yourself (Victory Gardens). Upcoming: Pale Courage (CCPA Opera); Spring Awakening (CCPA). Bren is also a house manager at DePaul and is currently co-producing a documentary about LGBTQ TV representation with The Clexa Project. RadBren.com
Production Stage Manager
Rita is proud to be returning to Northlight, where she has been the stage manager for 36 productions. Other favorite stage management projects include three years of The Polar Express Train Ride, seven seasons of The Christmas Schooner at Mercury Theater, and productions at Victory Gardens, Route 66 Theatre Company, Theatre at the Center, and Northlight’s productions of Chapatti and Stella & Lou in Galway, Ireland. She is the proud wife of actor Tom Hickey and mom to nine-year-old Charlie, and earlier last year she celebrated her 20th anniversary as a member of Actors’ Equity Association.Thank you for supporting live theatre!
Northlight’s mission is to remove as many barriers of entry as possible for members of our community to attend our shows. On this page you will find more information on our many accessibility services for Fireflies. Visit our Accessibility Page for more information for our whole season.
Fireflies – February 12, 2022, 2:30pm
Fireflies – February 12, 2022, 2:30pm
To purchase tickets, use the promo code NACCESS by phone 847.673.6300 or online to receive discounted tickets at a flat rate of $40 each (standard fees still apply).
For more information or questions about Captioning, Audio Description, or Relaxed Performances, please contact Ruben Carrazana: 847.324.1615 or firstname.lastname@example.org.