This Bitter Earth

by Harrison David Rivers
directed by Mikael Burke

November 1 – December 8  |  Theater Wit

1229 W Belmont Ave., Chicago, IL  60657

A deep love is challenged by divisive political realities. Jesse, an introspective black playwright, finds his choices called into question when his boyfriend, Neil, a white Black Lives Matter activist, calls him out for his political apathy. As passions and priorities collide, this couple is forced to reckon with issues of race, class and the bravery it takes to love out loud.

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Meet the Cast and Creatives of This Bitter Earth!

 Sheldon Brown (Jesse) is a 2014  graduate of Acting at Emerson College in Boston. His recent credits include The Shipment at Red Tape Theatre, Time Is On Our Side (understudy, performed) at About Face Theatre, 1980 or Why I Voted for John Anderson at Jackalope Theatre, A Wonder In My Soul at Victory Gardens (understudy, performed), Man In The Ring at Court Theatre, Feral with MPAACT Theatre Company, and more. He also has numerous credits in Boston including The Grand Inquisitor directed by Peter Brook and The Shakespearean Jazz Show, a collaborative new work that turns Shakespeare into New Orleans jazz.

Daniel Desmarais (Neil) is a graduate of UC Berkeley with a degree in Geography.  Other well-known geography majors are Michael Jordan and Prince William.  After graduating, he was an apprentice at both Williamstown Theatre Festival and Actors Theatre of Louisville before returning home to Chicago.  Some of his Chicago credits include  Charlotte’s Web (Drury Lane), Mr. Burns…a post electric play (Theater Wit), 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Flare Path, The Stinky Cheese Man (Griffin Theatre Company), The Raid (Jackalope), The Awake (First Floor Theater), This House Believes…(Oracle), Hit the Wall (The Inconvenience), and POWERLESS (a comic book superhero play that was performed above a Family Dollar).  He has worked with Victory Gardens, Goodman, Emerald City, Odradek, and The Music Theatre Company.  Daniel dreams in black and white and is a fan of the original Law and Order.
Harrison David Rivers (Playwright) resides in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he was recently named one of City Pages’ Artists of the Year. His plays include: When Last We Flew (GLAAD Media Award, NYFringe Excellence in Playwriting Award, NYFringe), Sweet (AUDELCO nomination for Best Play, NBT), And She Would Stand Like This (20% Theatre Company, The Movement Theatre Company), Where Storms Are Born (Berkshire Theatre Award nomination for Best New Play, Edgerton Foundation New Play Award, Williamstown), A Crack in the Sky (History Theatre), Five Points (Theatre Latte Da), and This Bitter Earth (New Conservatory Theatre Center, Penumbra). Harrison has received McKnight and Many Voices Jerome Fellowships, a Van Lier Fellowship, an Emerging Artist of Color Fellowship and New York Stage, & Film’s Founders’ Award. He was the 2016 Playwright-in-Residence at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Harrison is an alum of the Public Theater’s Emerging Writers’ Group, Interstate 73, NAMT, and The Lincoln Center Directors’ Lab. He is a NYTW Usual Suspect and a Core Writer at the Playwrights’ Center where he is also a member of the Board of Directors. Harrison received his BA from Kenyon College and MFA from Columbia School of the Arts. harrisondavidrivers.com
Mikael Burke (Director) is a Chicago-based director, devisor, and educator. He serves as Creative Director of the Indianapolis-based Young Actors Theatre, and previously served as Associate Artistic Director of Indianapolis’ NoExit Performance. Michael is a 2017 Princess Grace Award Winner in Theatre and a recipient of the 2012 Robert D. Beckmann Emerging Artist Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis. He has most recently worked with American Theater Company, Strawdog Theatre Company, and About Face Theatre in Chicago, and elsewhere with Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida, GEVA Theatre Center in Rochester, New York, and the Indiana Repertory Theatre in Indianapolis, to name a few. Michael received his MFA in Directing from The Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago.

Scenic Design: Joe Schermoly
Costume Design: Bob Kuhn
Lighting Design: John Kelly
Sound Design: Eric Backus
Props Design: Emma Cullimore
Intimacy Design: Sasha Smith
Production Manager: Catherine Allen
Stage Manager: Helen Lattyak
Associate Director: Jacob Janssen
Dramaturg: AJ Schwartz
Technical Director: Brian Sprague
Master Electrician: Alon Stotter
Scenic Painter: Natalie Santoro
Assistant Stage Manager:
Andrea Enger
Casting: 
Keira Fromm and Stephen Schellhardt
Public Relations: 
David Rosenberg

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