​by ​​​Donja R. Love
directed by Lou Bellamy
January 5, 2020 - January 26, 2020


Somewhere in the Jim Crow South, the sky burns red. A church bombing has rocked the Civil Rights Movement to its core, and Reverend Charles Grace must galvanize the people with messages of hope. It is his wife Olivia, however, who skillfully crafts his speeches and delivery. But her ability to play the supportive spouse is cracking under the weight of too many secrets, too many regrets and life lived in the shadows. “This is language as lush catharsis,” proclaimed New York Magazine.

Previews: January 5-9, 2020
First Night:​​​ January 10, 2020
Regular Performances: January 11-26, 2020

Recommendation: ​High school and above. Contains sexuality, strobe lighting effects, and the smoking of non-toxic electronic cigarettes.

Running Time: Approximately ​​​90 minutes with no intermission.

Donja R. Love is Black, Queer, HIV+ and surviving. A Philly native, he’s the recipient of the 2018 Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award, the 2017 Princess Grace Playwriting Award. He’s also the Lark Theatre’s 2016 Van Lier New Voices Playwriting Fellow, The Playwrights Realm’s 2016-17 Writing Fellow and the 2011 Philadelphia Adult Grand Slam Poetry Champion. He has had productions at Manhattan Theatre Club (Sugar in Our Wounds) and Atlantic Theater Company (Fireflies). He’s the co-host of Off Book, a podcast on Black theatre, and 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. His other plays include: one in two, soft and The Trade. Follow him on IG: donjarhakymelove and Twitter: donjarlove

Learn more about the production, cast & creative team with a peek into the program. Read full artist bios, in-depth articles and more.

Christiana Clark

Christiana Clark (Olivia) is making her SCR debut. She is a proud Chicago native whose theatre career took shape in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.) and continued with formal training at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in LA. She has been a company member of Oregon Shakespeare Festival for the past seven years with credits including How to Catch Creation, The Way the Mountain Moved (world premiere), Romeo and Juliet, UniSon (world premiere musical based on yet unpublished poetry of August Wilson), Mary Zimmerman’s The Odyssey, The Wiz, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Antony and Cleopatra, Into the Woods and The Taming of the Shrew. She appeared off-Broadway in Carlyle Brown’s Pure Confidence with Mixed Blood Theatre at 59E59 Theatre. Her other notable credits include Blue (Penumbra Theatre); Robert Falls’ The Winter’s Tale (Goodman Theatre); As You Like It (Guthrie Theater); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington, D.C.); The Trinity River Plays and The Christiana (Dallas Center Theatre); Gleam (Baltimore Center Stage); Bulrusher and In the Red and Brown Water (Pillsbury House Theatre); Othello, Il Campiello and Endgame (Ten Thousand Things Theater); Fucking A (Frank Theatre); Constant Star and The Left Hand Singing (Park Square Theatre); Lost in the Stars (Skylark Opera); A Raisin in the Sun (Starting Gate Theatre) and Chicago (Paul Bunyan Playhouse). Her film and television credits include Stuck Between Stations, Captured, “The Choo Choo Bob Show” and the upcoming Jordan Peele feature, Say My Name.

Lester Purry

Lester Purry (Charles) is making his SCR debut. An award-nominated lead actor, Purry has performed in regional theatres across the country including a national tour as Othello in Othello, as Augustus Newcastle in The Darker Face of the Earth and as Lester Mason in The Big White Fog, all with Guthrie Theater. A longtime company member with Penumbra Theatre, Purry has played the roles of Cory in Fences, Clay in Dutchman, Hambone in Two Trains Running, Lymon in The Piano Lesson, Hedley in King Hedley II and Booster in Jitney, to name a few. At Baltimore Center Stage, he was Marvell Thunder in Thunder Knocking on the Door, as well as King of the Hill in I Could Stop On a Dime. He played Lymon in the The Piano Lesson, Scarus in Antony and Cleopatra and Mordred in Camelot at Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Purry performed at Philadelphia Theatre Company as Floyd Barton in Seven Guitars, Arizona Theatre Company as Wolf in Two Trains Running and as Troy Maxson in Fences at Portland Playhouse, Palm Beach Dramaworks and the Los Angeles Performing Arts Center. He also played the role of Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at Children’s Theatre Company. Most recently, he captivated audiences in the one-man show, Thurgood, as Thurgood Marshall to consistently sold-out houses at Geva Theatre Center. 

Creative Team

L​ou Bellamy (Director) is the founder and artistic director emeritus of Penumbra Theatre. During his 40-year tenure, Penumbra evolved into one of America’s premier theatres dedicated to dramatic exploration of the African American experience. Under his leadership, Penumbra has grown to be the largest theatre of its kind in America and has produced more than 40 world premieres including August Wilson’s first professional production. Bellamy and Penumbra are proud to have produced more of Wilson’s plays than any theatre in the world. Bellamy is an Obie Award-winning director, an accomplished actor and, for 38 years, he served as an associate professor at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance. Bellamy most recently directed Penumbra’s productions of Pipeline and Brothers Paranormal. His selected directing credits outside of Penumbra include plays at the Logan Square Arts Festival, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Arizona Theatre Company, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Signature Theatre, Cleveland Play House, Guthrie Theater, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Geva Theatre Center, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Gem Theater, Round House and Hartford Stage.

Vicki Smith (Scenic Design) is pleased to be doing her first production for South Coast Repertory. She has worked for Denver Center for the Performing Arts (54 productions), Arizona Theatre Company, Geva Theatre Center, Penumbra Theatre, Children’s Theatre Company, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Cleveland Play House, Cincinnati Playhouse, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Guthrie Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Dallas Theatre Center, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Alley Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Comedy Theatre of Budapest and National Theatre of Miskolc (Hungary), Anchorage Opera, Minnesota Opera, ACT (Seattle), San Jose Repertory Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Portland Center Stage and others. She received Bay Area Critics Awards for The Kite Runner and Execution of Justice; a DramaLogue Award for Cyrano; Colorado Theatre Guild and Denver Ovation awards for Mariela in the Desert, Doubt, Plainsong, I’m Not Rappaport and Pierre, which was selected for the 2007 Prague Quadrennial Design Exposition. Her work has been shown in two museum exhibitions: “Penumbra Theatre at 40” at the Minnesota History Center and “No Small Parts: The Role of Scale Models in Theater Set Design” at the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures in Tucson.

David Kay Mickelsen (Costume Design) has designed more than 450 productions at the nation’s leading theatres including SCR; Guthrie Theater; Denver Center for the Performing Arts (60 productions); Arizona Theatre Company (47 productions); Cleveland Play House (22 productions); Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (17 productions); Ford’s Theatre (Washington, D.C.); Williamstown Theatre Festival; Berkeley Repertory Theatre; Geffen Playhouse; Pasadena Playhouse; Laguna Playhouse; The Old Globe; San Diego Repertory Theatre; A Contemporary Theatre; the Oregon, Utah, Colorado and Illinois Shakespeare festivals; Studio Arena Theatre; Portland Center Stage; Northlight Theatre; Pioneer Theatre Company; Geva Theatre Center; Repertory Theatre of St. Louis; Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis; Tennessee Repertory Theatre; Missouri Repertory Theatre; Sundance Theatre Festival; New Mexico Repertory Theatre; Pennsylvania Center Stage; Florida Stage; The Maltz-Jupiter Theatre; Ensemble Studio Theatre; Irish Repertory Theatre; Theatre of the Open Eye; Jean Cocteau Repertory Theatre; The Hampton Playhouse; and Timberlake Playhouse. Mickelsen is the creative director of the theatre costume design program at The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. Originally from Canby, Ore., he graduated with an MFA from California Institute of the Arts. He is a member of United Scenic Artists and is the Western Region Board Vice Chair, Local USA 829, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

Don Darnutzer (Lighting Design) is designing his first show for South Coast Repertory. His most recent lighting and projection design was for Dead Man Walking at the Israel Opera (Tel Aviv). He designed the lighting for the Broadway production of It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues and the off-Broadway productions of Hank Williams: Lost Highway, The Immigrant and Almost Heaven: John Denver’s America. He has designed for Guthrie Theater, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Arizona Theatre Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, The Shakespeare Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Cleveland Play House, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Penumbra Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, The Old Globe, Mark Taper Forum, Alley Theatre, Dallas Theatre Center, Coconut Grove Playhouse, Saint Louis Repertory, TheatreWorks, Northlight Theatre, Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis, Palm Beach Opera, Portland Opera, New Orleans Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Atlanta Opera, Central City Opera, Minnesota Opera and Opera Grand Rapids. 

Scott W. Edwards (Sound Design) is making his SCR design debut. He grew up in the Minneapolis theatre scene. He was Children’s Theatre Company’s resident sound designer for eight years and Guthrie Theater’s resident sound designer for 21 years, designing 140 productions and working with artists from all over the world. He has worked with many theatres in the Twin Cities including Penumbra Theatre, Mixed Blood Theatre and The Jungle Theatre, as well as many regional theaters around the country. He was a founding member of Myron Johnson’s Ballet of the Dolls and the live sound engineer and production manager for Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. Recently, he worked on Mark Rylance’s and Louis Jenkins’ Nice Fish, which premiered in London’s West End. His honors and awards include a 2018-19 McKnight Theater Artist Fellowship; San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for The Kite Runner (San Jose Repertory Theatre); Minneapolis Star Tribune Outstanding Sound Designer Award for Pride and Prejudice and The Pirates of Penzance (both at the Guthrie Theater); and a Helen Hayes Award nomination for You Can’t Take It With You (Arena Stage).

Jeffrey Elias Teeter (Projections) graduated from California Institute of the Arts and has worked on numerous productions throughout the world. His design work includes Silent Sky and Holmes and Watson (Arizona Theatre Company); The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord (Arizona Theatre Center, Geffen Playhouse, NoHo Arts Center); Love Has No Labels (national public service announcement; Emmy Award, “Outstanding Commercial”); Cheryl Burke’s Love on the Floor (Orb Theatre, Tokyo); Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. (Paris and Las Vegas Interactive Discovery Center); On the Spectrum and Cyrano (Fountain Theatre, Ovation Award for Video Design); Baby It’s You, written and directed by Floyd Mutrux (Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway); lighting director for Halloween Horror Nights, NBC Universal Studios Hollywood and AMC premieres; Brewsie & Willie (Center for New Performance and Poor Dog Group); All That Skate, an international ice skating show (Staples Center); Piedra de Sol, directed by Maria Morett (Getty Villa); Kirk Douglas: Before I Forget (Kirk Douglas Theatre); Apollo (Portland Center Stage, Smithsonian Collection); Norman’s Ark (John Anson Ford Amphitheatre); Mycenaean (Brooklyn Academy of Music Festival); and 11 Septembre 2001 (REDCAT; National Theatre of Paris). His other projects include The Leading Matters and Stanford Challenge national tour, Audubon Shark Exhibit and The Sazerac House.

Macelle Mahala (Dramaturg) writes about the intersection of theatre, performance, race and social justice. She is the author of Penumbra: The Premier Stage for African American Drama (University of Minnesota Press, 2013), which received Honorable Mention for the 2014 Errol Hill Award for Outstanding Scholarship in African American Theatre Studies. Her second book, Shaping the City: African American Theatre Institutions and Urban Arts Ecologies, is currently under contract with Northwestern University Press. Her essay “Asserting Black Subjectivity on the German Stage,” was published in the critical anthology After Failure: New Essays on the Cultural Politics and Philosophy of Failure in Performance and Theatre (Routledge, 2019). Her other writing has appeared in Theatre Journal; Theatre Topics; Continuum: The Journal of African Diaspora Drama, Theatre, and Performance; Women & Performance; and XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics. As a theatre artist, she has worked with Artists in Storefronts, The Illusion Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, New World Theatre, The New York Mills Cultural Arts Center, Penumbra Theatre, Pillsbury House Theatre, The San Francisco Mime Troupe, The Soap Factory and Works/Plays. She currently serves as director of the Humanities Center and is associate professor of English and Media X at the University of the Pacific.

Alyssa Escalante (Stage Manager) is a proud Actors’ Equity Association stage manager based in Los Angeles. Her recent credits include M. Butterfly, Photograph 51, Culture Clash (Still) in America, Gem of the Ocean (South Coast Repertory); The Bacchae, theatre is a blank page (SITI Company); Hold These Truths (San Diego Repertory/Pasadena Playhouse); A Streetcar Named Desire, Mojada: a Medea in Los Angeles, Happy Days (Boston Court Pasadena); The Haunted House Party (Troubadour Theatre Company); Criers for Hire (East West Players); Cash on Delivery (El Portal Theatre); and Placas: The Most Dangerous Tattoo (U.S. tour). Much love to the keepers of her sanity: Mom, Dad and Hannah Minerva. 

The Actors and Stage Managers employed in this production are members of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Christiana Clark and Lester Purry in "Fireflies." Photo by Jordan Kubat.
Lester Purry and Christiana Clark in "Fireflies." Photo by Jordan Kubat.
Christiana Clark in "Fireflies." Photo by Jordan Kubat.
Christiana Clark and Lester Purry in "Fireflies." Photo by Jordan Kubat.
Lester Purry and Christiana Clark in "Fireflies." Photo by Jordan Kubat.
Lester Purry and Christiana Clark in "Fireflies." Photo by Jordan Kubat.
Lester Purry and Christiana Clark in "Fireflies." Photo by Jordan Kubat.
Christiana Clark and Lester Purry in "Fireflies." Photo by Jordan Kubat.
video video video
Fireflies Opening Night Partygoers
Party Play: Fireflies

Opening night for Donja R. Love's Fireflies shined brightly—from stellar performances to a stellar cast party.

Lou Bellamy
PODCAST: Fireflies director Lou Bellamy

Lou Bellamy talks about his approach to directing Donja R. Love’s gripping drama, Fireflies, and how the it answers for a question he asks about each play he works on. 

Fully Human: Passion, Faith and Doubt in Fireflies

Dive deep into the story behind Fireflies including an in-depth interview with playwright Donja R. Love.

Christiana Clark and Lester Purry
Meet the Cast: Fireflies
Two actors make their SCR debuts, bringing to life the gripping drama Fireflies by Donja R. Love. Read more about them.
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