ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar
American Blues Theater announces casting for
August Wilson’s Fences
directed by Monty Cole
Cast includes Kamal Bolden, Manny Buckley, Shanésia Davis, Ajax Dontavius,
Martel Manning, William Anthony Sebastian Rose II, and Riley Wells
July 1-August 6, 2022
American Blues Theater, under the continued leadership of Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside, announces the cast of August Wilson’s Fences, directed by Monty Cole. The intimate and up-close production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama will play to a capacity of 60 people per performance
from July 1-August 6, 2022, at Theater Wit,1229 W. Belmont Ave. Tickets will be available beginning May 31 at (773) 975-8150 and www.americanbluestheater.com. I'll be out for opening night Thursday, July 7th, so check back shortly for my full review.
This is the sensational drama about Troy Maxson, a former star of the Negro Baseball League, who now works as a garbage man in 1957 Pittsburgh. Excluded as a black man from major leagues during his prime, Troy’s bitterness takes its toll on his relationships with his wife and family.
The cast is: Kamal Bolden (Troy Maxson), Manny Buckley* (Gabriel), Shanésia Davis (Rose), Ajax Dontavius, (Cory), Martel Manning (Jim Bono), William Anthony Sebastian Rose (Lyons), and Riley Wells (Raynell).
The creative team includes Yeaji Kim (scenic design), Jared Gooding* (lighting design), Stephanie Cluggish (costume design), Rick Sims* (sound design), Verity Neely (properties design), Rachel Flesher (fight & intimacy design), Cara Parrish* (stage manager) and Shandee Vaughan* (production manager).
*Denotes Ensemble Member or Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater
About the Artists
MONTY COLE he/him (director) is an award-winning theater and film writer-director from Oak Park, IL. He has directed for the Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf, Center Theatre Group, The Playwrights Center, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Victory Gardens Theater, the Center for New Performance, Cape Cod Theatre Project, Alley Theatre, and others. Recent projects include directing the workshop of world premiere Adrienne Kennedy play, Etta and Ella on the Upper West Side for the Center for New Performance in California. His re-interpretations of classics from Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape to Hamlet have received awards and critical praise in Chicago. As a writer, his plays include American Teenager (a commission from the Goodman Theatre) and Black Like Me, an adaptation of the 1961 novel currently in development with The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Cole was one of four writers in the Goodman Theatre's Playwrights Unit and is currently an Artist in Residence at the Center for New Performance, a fellow at Hermitage Artist Retreat, and a Research Scholar of the Bridge to Faculty at UIC. In 2021, Cole directed three short films: SIX FEET APART by Isaac Gomez, SONS OF TOLEDO, written by Cole and Matt Foss, and his own short, WHOLE. SONS OF TOLEDO has appeared in film festivals around the world including winning Best African American Short at the Phoenix Film Festival, while the other two shorts are in post-production. Monty has a BA in Theatre Studies from Emerson College and an MFA Directing degree from the California Institute of the Arts.
KAMAL BOLDEN he/him (Troy Maxson) A native of Peoria, IL, Kamal graduated from Bradley University with a degree in Business Administration-Entrepreneurship. Theatre: the lead role of Hero in Father Comes Home From The Wars Parts 1,2, & 3 (Goodman Theatre), Immediate Family directed by Phylicia Rashad (Mark Taper Forum), the title role of Chad Deity in the world premiere of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (Victory Gardens Theater), Jitney, The Misanthrope, and Home (Court Theatre), Coriolanus (Nashville Shakespeare), SS: Romeo & Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare). Off-Broadway: AUDELCO Award for Best Actor in Reparations at the historic Billie Holiday Theatre and a nomination for The Opponent at 59E59St Theatre. Film: Vacation Friends, The Night Before, Ravers, Keys to the City, Elvis & Nixon. Television: Series Regular on The Endgame (NBC), 61st Street, Chicago Fire, Insecure, The Resident, Law & Order SVU, Rosewood, NCIS, Major Crimes, Betrayal, Low Winter Sun, Boss, Lights Out.
MANNY BUCKLEY he/him (Gabriel) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. He is a Chicago-based director, actor, playwright and teaching artist. Blues credits include It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, Six Corners, Looking Over the President’s Shoulder (Jeff Award Nomination-Best Solo Performance), and Dutchman/TRANSit (Black Theatre Alliance Award Nomination). Manny toured nationally as “Satchel Paige” in the original production of The Satchel Paige Story, and appeared in The Father (Helen Hayes Award Nomination) at Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C. He originated the role of “Carson” in Hit the Wall, which sold out extensions in Steppenwolf’s Garage Rep. Select Chicago credits include The Brothers Size, 1984, and Of Mice and Men (Steppenwolf); Dorian (House Theater); and Love’s Labor’s Lost (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre). Mr. Buckley is the recipient of a Black Theatre Alliance, and Black Excellence Award. He most recently directed Kingdom, an audio drama, with Broken Nose Theatre.
SHANÉSIA DAVIS she/her (Rose) returns to American Blues Theater where she was last seen in their co-production of Native Son with Court Theatre. As an actress, some of her credits include works at Steppenwolf, Northlight, Porchlight Music Theatre, Goodman, Congo Square, Mark Taper Forum, Cleveland Playhouse, CenterStage Baltimore, The Gift Theatre, Kansas City Rep, and Court Theatre, to name a few. She has been Jeff Award nominated several times and is a Black Theatre Alliance Award recipient, as well as Excellence in the Arts recipient. Film credits include Chicago Stories: Ida B. Wells, The Thing about Harry, Working Man, BLUEPRINT, External Rivals, Consumed, Damaged Goods, Cleveland Abduction, Morning Due, The Weatherman, Uncle Nino, Life Sentence, and Chicago Cab, among others. Television credits includes Emmy nominated Lovecraft Country (HBO), Proven Innocent (FOX), Empire (FOX), Chicago Fire (NBC), CRISIS (ABC), Detroit 187 (ABC), and series regular on Early Edition (CBS). She is a proud member of Equity and SAG/AFTRA unions as well as Artistic Associate of Congo Square Theater and Assistant Teaching Professor at Roosevelt University, CCPA.
AJAX DONTAVIUS he/him (Cory) is a Chicago-based actor who is so excited to join this amazing production of Fences. Previously, Ajax has co-starred on NBC’s Chicago P.D. and will appear on the second season of AMC’s 61st Street. He was last seen on stage in Lifeline Theatre’s stage adaptation of Middle Passage as Rutherford Calhoun.
MARTEL MANNING he/him (Jim Bono) has appeared in Chicago in: Photograph 51 (Court Theatre), Her Majesty's Will (Lifeline Theatre), as well as Pillowman, Kentucky, and Hamlet (The Gift Theatre). Regional credits include: Romeo & Juliet - Juliet's Journey (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Still Dance the Stars (New Light Theatre), Two Gentlemen of Verona (Michigan Shakespeare Festival). Martel received an MFA in Acting from the University of Houston Professional Actor Training Program and is represented by Shirley Hamilton Talent.
WILLIAM ANTHONY SEBASTIAN ROSE II he/him (Lyons) is a Chicago based actor most recently featured as King Henri Christophe in The House Theatre’s The Tragedy of King Christophe. He was last seen in an on-stage, in-person production with Broken Nose Theatre’s Labyrinth as a still wet behind the ears loan officer. He has also had the privilege of working with Kunoichi Productions virtual presentation of The True Tale of Princess Kaguya as the psychotic Emperor and power hungry but moronically pathetic Prince; a man searching for his truth in Victory Gardens Theater’s The First Deep Breath; a dilettante English lord fancying himself an amateur sleuth in Whose Body, Lifeline Theatre; a forgotten political prisoner fighting for change in We Are Pussy Riot, Red Tape Theatre. You can also see him on display now in the Chicago Maritime Museum exhibit as the founder of Chicago, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable. TV credits include Lovecraft County. Represented by Big Mouth Talent Agency.
RILEY WELLS she/her (Raynell) recently worked on a short film They Say Time Heals as Anisah as well as the CW’s television show 4400. Riley studies dance and acting at FieldCrest School of Performing Arts. She also studies voice and piano at the MuzicNet. For fun, Riley enjoys engineering, space, gymnastics.
Dates: Previews July 1-July 6, 2022
Opens July 7, 2022
Runs through August 6, 2022
Saturdays: 2:30pm (except, no 2:30pm show on July 9)
and 7:30pm (except, no 7:30pm show on August 6)
Location: Theater Wit, 1229 W Belmont Ave in Chicago
Ticket prices: $25-$45, plus $2.75 Theater Wit venue fees
Box Office: Buy online at www.americanbluestheater.com or (773) 975-8150
Group Sales discounts and Blue Card Memberships available now by calling (773) 654-3103 or visiting www.americanbluestheater.com
About American Blues
Winner of the American Theatre Wing’s prestigious National Theatre Company Award, American Blues Theater is a premier arts organization with an intimate environment that patrons, artists, and all Chicagoans call home. American Blues Theater explores the American identity through the plays it produces and communities it serves.
The diverse and multi-generational artists have established the second-oldest professional Equity Ensemble theater in Chicago. As of 2022, the theater and artists received 221 Joseph Jefferson Awards and nominations that celebrate excellence in Chicago theater and 40 Black Theatre Alliance Awards. The artists are honored with Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize nominations, Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Emmy Awards and numerous other accolades.