by DANAI GURIRA
directed by ILESA DUNCAN | October 4-November 4th
Gurira’s story is set during the midst of the Second Liberian Civil War and follows the captive ‘wives’ of a Commanding Officer in the rebel army. A teen girl has recently arrived and the wives protect and care for her in the dilapidated, one-bedroom shack the women share. Just as the new girl begins to adjust to life at the compound, their fragile sisterhood is thrown off balance when a wife returns from the battlefield, after having escaped the army camp to fight as soldier in the resistance. Struck by the realization that she may not have to resign herself to the grim reality of life in the compound, The Girl must choose whether to stay with the women who have done so much for her, or to join the freedom fighter and chart her own destiny as a soldier. With deep emotional strength, brutal honesty, and a surprising amount of humor, the women of Eclipsed fight to do something truly extraordinary: survive.
The first play to premiere on Broadway with an all female, black cast and creative team, was inspired by a photo that Gurira saw in The New York Times. “I was raised in Africa and I had never seen anything like it, women with AK-47s, dressed very hip and looking formidable.” she said. “I was keen to one day pursue that story and put it on the stage.” Taking place in a bullet-ridden rebel army camp during the Liberian civil war in 2003, the five “wives” of a commanding officer band together to form a fragile community and care for a 15-year-old girl who has been abducted and raped. The balance of their lives is upset by the return of a former “wife” turned rebel soldier who tries to convince the teen to leave the camp and fight with her. As the war draws to a close, each woman must discover her own personal means of survival in this deeply felt portrait of women finding and testing their own strength.
About the playwright
Danai Gurira is an American actress and playwright of Zimbabwean origin who is best known for her roles as “Michonne” on the AMC horror drama series “The Walking Dead” and as “Okoye” in the Marvel Universe movies “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War.” She began her career on stage and has written critically acclaimed and award-winning plays such as In the Continuum,which won her an Obie Award, an Outer Critics Award and a Helen Hayes Award for Best Lead Actress; Eclipsed, was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play and won for Best Costume Design in a play; The Convert and Familiar, the last of which was commissioned by Yale Repertory Theatre. Among her other notable movies is “Mother of George,” in which she played the lead role of a Nigerian woman. She has also made guest appearances on several television shows including “Life on Mars,” “’Law & Order” and “American Experience.” According to her, being “brought up by a scientist and a librarian”, she is “an academic at heart”, which helps her do the exhaustive research she needs to write her plays. Gurira, who feels that stories of African women are told very rarely, considers her three playsIn the Continuum, Eclipsed and The Convert
as “parts of a trilogy on Zimbabwe’s coming of age from a feminine perspective.”
About the director
ILesa Duncan is the executive/producing director at Pegasus Theatre Chicago. Her recent directing work at Pegasus includes theJeff-Recommended, sold-out Shakin the Mess Outta Misery, the world premiere of Jeff-Recommended Rutherford’s Travels and Nambi E. Kelley’s For Her as a Piano. Other recent credits include Neverwhere at Lifeline Theatre (Jeff-Recommended),Broken Fencesat 16th Street Theater, Jeff Award-nominated The Nativitywith Congo Square and the Jeff Award-winning Jar the Floorat ETA Creative Arts. Duncan has also worked with The Goodman, Writers Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Lifeline Theater, Stage Left and Chicago Dramatists, as well as Contemporary American Theatre Company (Ohio). The Alliance Theatre (Atlanta), Arena Stage (Washington DC) and Lincoln Center Theater (New York). Duncan’s creative nonfiction short stories have been published (Columbia College Chicago) and she’s written poems and screenplays. For the stage, she co-adapted Rutherford’s Travelsfrom the National Book Award-winning novel Middle Passage, co-wrote and directed Blakk Love: Stoeez of A Darker Hue and facilitated the devised project Do You See What I’m Sayingfor Chameleon.
The cast includes Morayo Orija, Maya V. Prentiss, Aja Singletary, Adhana Reid & Sola Thompson
The production team includes Jacqueline Penrod (Scenic Design), Megan Turnquist (Lighting Design), Owé Engobar (Costume Design), Tony Bruno (Sound Design), Amanda Caputi (Props), Carrie Hardin (Dialect Coach), Tanuja Jagernauth (Dramaturg), R&D Choreography (Violence Design), as well as Jennifer McClendon (Production Manager), and Justine Palmisano (Stage Manager).
Morayo Orija (Rita) is a recent transplant, whose Chicago credits include Gertrude in Hamlet(Midsommer Flight). Regional credits include Los Angeles: Almost, Maine(Cobblestone Theatre), The Comedy of Errorsand The Laramie Project(at Stella Adler Theatre); North Carolina: A Raisin In The Sun(Theatre Charlotte), Patron Saint of Losing Sleep(Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte), The Colored Museum (CAST), and Miss Julie(Dilworth Production). Her television credits include TV One’s series FATAL ATTRACTION and FEEDBACK LIVE on UNC student television as series co-host. She studied acting at Stella Adler Academy and Theatre – Los Angeles and political science at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Go Heels! Morayo is also a writer and director.
Maya V. Prentiss(Helena) Chicago Credits include An Octoroon(Definition Theatre), How to Catch Creation (reading, Goodman Theatre), and Milton, MI(reading, Teatro Vista). She is a recent MFA Acting graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where her theatre credits include Twelfth Night, In the Blood, Romeo and Juliet, the Next Room/ The Vibrator Play, Henry V, and Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea. She is originally from Richmond, VA and received her B.A. from the illustrious Spelman College.
Adhana Reid(Maima) is a recent graduate of Northwestern University. Most recently, she’s performed in Big River (Theatre at the Center), Spring Awakening (Marriott Theatre), and Stick Fly, Sweet Charity andHair(Northwestern University). She is thrilled to be making her debut at Pegasus Theatre with this talented cast and crew.
Aja Singletary(Bessie) Recent theatre credits include The Deckchairs(The Conspirators); As You Like It (Eclectic Full Contact Theatre); and American Revolution (Theatre Unspeakable). Aja is a graduate of the BA Theatre Program at Fordham University and is represented by Actors Talent Group. She is also a dancer and choreographer. grateful for her family, friends and her cast for their warm support!
Sola Thompson(The Girl) makes her Chicago debut in Pegasus’s Eclipsed. She recently completed a MFA in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University. There, she was fortunate to play the title roles in the world premiere of Ike Holter’s The Night Runner, Eurydice and Greer in Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England, amongst others. She is grateful to her brilliant circle of family and friends for their constant love and support. Sola is represented by Grossman and Jack Talent.