This off-beat buddy comedy pairs essential workers from two different worlds in the shared cab of a New York City garbage truck. Danny’s a white, blue-collar mansplainer hiding a heart of gold. Marlowe’s a Black, Ivy League-educated newbie learning the ropes from her old-school partner. When they’re thrown together to pick up what the world has discarded, they discover there’s more that binds them than taking out the trash.


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at Northlight Theatre
9501 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie, IL 60077


By Colin Douglas

“A warmly wonderful production of a surprisingly humane and honest play.”

Directed with sensitivity and solicitude by Raven Theatre’s talented artistic director, Cody Estle, this play flows easily, bursting with love and logic. His two incredibly gifted actors, the lovely and versatile Tiffany Renee Johnson (absolutely terrific in Writers’ “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “A Doll’s House,” as well as in the Goodman’s “School Girls: Or, the African Mean Girls Play”) lights up the stage in her Northlight debut. The actress’ sincerity and empathy shine through during every moment of her performance. Luigi Sottile, who was unbelievable in Broadway’s “Slave Play,” as well as in Northlight’s delightful “The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley,” brings so much honesty and dimension to his portrayal of Danny. As with Marlowe, the audience thinks they know these two characters from the start. But, as each protective layer is slowly stripped away, we discover many more subtle attributes that make us like these individuals even more.

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By Noel Schecter

“A well-crafted and perfectly executed two-handed comedy”

This production easily exceeds those modest expectations as the plot capably flirts with big ideas such as the interplay between race and socioeconomic status. The play also delivers a touching and convincing portrayal of grief, as well as credible character development. All of this occurs within a theatrical universe that allows for quite a lot of dildo jokes. These moments appear organic, a natural byproduct of what society leaves at the curb.

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By Angela Allyn

“This is moving and entertaining theatre worth heading to Skokie to enjoy.”

In the able hands of actors Tiffany Renee Johnson and Luigi Sottile [Danny and Marlowe] become rich characters who grow and shift as the play goes on, coming to understand and empathize with one another. Joelle sprinkles surprises, and gems of wisdom throughout the script leaving much for the audience to discover, and there is a lot to laugh about as the character’s days unwind. This is the kind of deep, thoughtful and entertaining theater Chicagoland is famous for. And I promise you will think differently about your trash and the people who deal with it differently after this show.

Director Cody Estle has given us a chance to really like these characters, and set designer Collette Pollard has created a world both gritty and compelling for us to experience– you can almost smell the mountain of trash. The two part garbage truck is a stage design engineering triumph.

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By Barbara Keer

“I didn’t know how interesting garbage pickup could be until I saw The Garbologists”

Leaving with a new perspective, I believe, for me, the Northlight mission succeeded. “Northlight Theatre aspires to promote change of perspective and encourage compassion by exploring the depth of our humanity across a bold spectrum of theatrical experiences, reflecting our community to the world and the world to our community.”

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By Cissy Lacks

The Garbologists is a delicacy of a play in the disguise of a trash-collection story.”

In this performance, the creative team deserves special recognition, especially Collette Pollard for set and projection design and Greg Hofman for lighting design. And so does the director, Cody Estle, who pulls the unlikely backdrop of trash collecting into a nonstop entertaining, appealing and thoughtful production. The opening night got a well-deserved standing ovation.

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By Rick McCain

“It’s captivating”

Playwright Lindsay Joelle loves writing about people forced into confined spaces and how they interact when thrown together. She does an excellent job interweaving these characters and slowly peeling back the layers of their lives to the audience, bearing their souls and connecting them right before our eyes. Returning to Northlight, Cody Estle, an accomplished director, does a great job bringing us into the story of Marlowe and Danny.

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Production Team

Cody Estle


Cody returns to Northlight Theatre where he previously directed By the Water (named by Chicago Sun-Times honorable mention as one of the top theatre productions of 2017) and another seven productions as the assistant director under artistic director, BJ Jones. He is the artistic director of Raven Theatre where his directing credits include The Luckiest, Sundown, Yellow Moon, How I Learned To Drive (named by Windy City Times as the best of Chicago theatre in 2019), The Gentleman Caller (2019 Jeff Award winning new play by Philip Dawkins), The Assembled Parties, A Loss of Roses (named by Chicago Tribune honorable mention as one of the year’s best in 2016), Dividing the Estate, Vieux Carré (named by Chicago Tribune as one of the year’s best in 2014), Good Boys and True, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Boy Gets Girl, and Dating Walter Dante. Other directing credits include collaborations with Strawdog Theatre, Shattered Globe Theatre, First Floor Theatre, Redtwist Theatre, The Artistic Home, Haven Theatre, Mary-Arrchie Theatre, and Citadel Theatre. Cody was recently named one of NewCity’s Fifty People Who Really Perform For Chicago. He is a member of SDC, serves on the board of directors of the League of Chicago Theatres, and is an alumnus of Columbia College Chicago.

Lindsay Joelle


Lindsay is a playwright, screenwriter, and librettist living in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona.
The granddaughter of a survivor in Poland’s Underground Resistance and the daughter of a first-generation Israeli-born American, Joelle is drawn to stories of misfits, rebels, and the unassimilated. Her plays spotlight voices not usually heard in the American theater: Chasidic Jews addicted to rock and roll. Sanitation workers who find treasure in the trash. Her writing explores the rituals, routines, jargon, and humor of urban and rural micro-communities across America.
Plays include TRAYF (Geffen Playhouse, Theater J, Penguin Rep, New Rep), The Messengers (Audible Theater audioplay), A Small History of Amal, Age 7 (Forward Flux/Pratidhwani), and The Garbologists (Philadelphia Theatre Company, City Theatre). She has been awarded an Audible Theater Emerging Playwright commission, E.S.T./Sloan Foundation Science & Technology commission, Vital Theatre musical commission, Irving Zarkower Award, and Goldberg MFA Playwriting Prize. Alumna of the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop, Nashville Repertory Theatre’s Ingram New Works Lab, and NNPN Playwright-in-Residence at Curious Theatre (’18-’19). Originally from Chicago, Joelle received her BA from Columbia University and MFA from Hunter.

Collette Pollard

Scenic and Projection Design

Collette is thrilled to return to Northlight after designing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. She resides in Chicago where her credits include Fannie, Roe, The Wolves, The Happiest Song Plays Last, Fish Men and Stoop Stories (Goodman Theatre) Lindiwe, HIR, The Fundamentals and Between Riverside and Crazy (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); Miracle (Miracle Productions); Sound of Music (Marriott Theatre) 42nd Street and Broadway Bound (Drury Lane Theatre); The Hunter and the Bear and Smart People (Writers Theatre); A Shayna Maidel (Timeline Theatre), where she is an artistic associate. Regional credits include Angry, Raucous & Shamelessly Gorgeous (Hartford Stage and The Alliance Theatre); The Geller Girls, Good People and The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls (The Alliance Theatre); Steel Magnolias, Eclipsed and The Chinese Lady (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre); The Legend of Georgia McBride (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and Arizona Theatre Company); My Father’s War (TheatreSquared); Holmes and Watson (Kansas City Repertory Theatre); The Cake (Asolo Repertory Theatre). Collette is the recipient of several Jeff Awards and is an Associate Professor of Design at the School of Theatre and Music at UIC. Many thanks to the endless support from her family.

Gregory Graham

Costume Design

Greg Hofmann

Lighting Design

Josh Schmidt

Sound Design

Josh is happy to return to Northlight having last provided composition/sound design for The Chalk Garden and Lady Windermere’s Fan. Composition credits include A Minister’s Wife (Lincoln Center), Adding Machine (Minetta Lane), Whida Peru (59E59); Midwestern Gothic (Signature, VA); Gift of the Magi (American Players Theatre, WI) On Broadway he has designed Therese Raquin (Roundabout/Studio 54) House of Blue Leaves (Walter Kerr) and Brighton Beach Memoirs (Nederlander). In Chicago he recently designed Bug at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and The Tragedy of King Christophe at House Theater. Additional Chicago credits include productions at Goodman Theatre, Writers’ Theatre, Victory Gardens, Raven Theatre, Next Theatre, Seanachai Theatre Company among many others. Current Commissions include Fallingwater at Metropolitan Opera. In film he is currently in pre-production for The End (Final Cut for Real/Joshua Oppenheimer).

Rita Vreeland

Production Stage Manager

Rita Vreeland has been a frequent stage manager at Northlight since 2007, with Birthday Candles marking her 42nd production here. Other favorite recent projects include Ernest Shackleton Loves Me at Porchlight Music Theatre, A Christmas Carol at Drury Lane, The Luckiest at Raven Theatre, three years of The Polar Express Train Ride, and productions at Mercury Theatre, Victory Gardens, Route 66 Theatre Company, Theatre at the Center, and The Galway International Arts Festival in Galway, Ireland. She is the proud wife of actor Tom Hickey and mom to ten-year-old Charlie, and this year she celebrated her 22nd 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 Intimate Apparel. Visit our Accessibility Page for more information for our whole season.

The Garbologists Accessibility Services:




The Garbologists Relaxed Performance – September 21, 2022 at 7:30pm

The Garbologists ASL Interpreted & Open Captioned Performance – September 23, 2022 at 8:00pm

The Garbologists Audio Described/Touch Tour & Open Captioned Performance – September 24, 2022 at 2:30pm

Sensory Guide for The Garbologists

To purchase tickets, use the promo code NACCESS by phone 847.673.6300 to receive discounted tickets at a flat rate of $40 each (standard fees still apply).

For more information or questions about Captioning, ASL Interpretation, Audio Description, or Relaxed Performances, please contact Ruben Carrazana: 847.324.1615 or