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Inis Nua Theatre Presents American Premiere of UNTITLED by Inua Ellams April 24 - May 12, 2019

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ARDMORE, Pa. - March 20, 2019 - EntSun -- Inis Nua Theatre presents Nigerian-British playwright Inua Ellams' UNTITLED in its American premiere, directed by Jerrell L. Henderson. UNTITLED is a monologue play in two parts, with one actor playing twin brothers born on Nigeria's Independence Day. But on the night of their traditional naming ceremony, one infant brother cries out and refuses to be named plunging him into a life of chaos.

Previews begin Wednesday, April 24, with opening night on Friday, April 26. The show runs through May 12, 2019 for a total of 15 performances. All performances will take place at the Louis Bluver Theatre at the Drake, 302 South Hicks Street. Tickets are $15 - $35. For reservations, visit http://www.inisnuatheatre.org.

"Inua Ellams' writing is a masterful use of language and character. The audience is met with two competing narratives that at once directly contrast each other while at the same time remain hopelessly intertwined." says Director Jerrell L. Henderson.

Inua Ellams' mysterious and wild play UNTITLED tells the story of twin boys born in Nigeria. Under the first full moon of their lives, they are given a traditional naming ceremony: one brother responds to his name with a baby's laugh, the other cries out and rejects his name. These first moments shape their lives with the named brother (Y) leading a life of order with a plan, education, and predictable career and the unnamed brother (X) existing in a world of chaos, tumult and lack of follow-through. The two brothers are separated at 7 months old when Y is taken to England by their mother. X stays behind in Nigeria, until their deep connection forces them back together.

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UNTITLED was first read by Inis Nua's Literary Manager in 2015 and was presented as a reading in their successful 2016/2017 Reading Series – Immigration Stories. The passionate audience response and unique theatrical style prompted the theatre company to produce a full production. Artistic Director Tom Reing wanted to bring the show to Philadelphia because "I like the blending of tradition and modernity. It's a great role for an actor to perform."

The Stage called UNTITLED "bewitching" and The Guardian praised the show, saying "there is a great deal to enjoy in a piece that feels both modern and ancient, touched by the otherworldly yet grounded in reality." UNTITLED was developed by England's Fuel and Soho Theatre and first performed at the Bristol Old Vic in 2010.

Originally performed by the playwright, Inis Nua will be the first company to mount their own production of UNTITLED, exploring this play that asks whether our fates are decided by ourselves, our cultures, or our family histories.

The director and solo actor are both new to Inis Nua. Keith Illidge will be performing both brothers X and Y. The show is helmed by Guest Director Jerrell L. Henderson who Artistic Director Tom Reing says "Has a reputation as a great collaborator with passion. He directed Salt, Pepper, Ketchup at InterAct and Passage Theatres this year and his status in Philadelphia theatre has grown. I felt his interest in folklore and mythology made him a great fit for the piece."

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT:

Inua Ellams is a Nigerian-British poet, playwright, and performer and one of the most exciting voices in British theatre today. His play Barbershop Chronicles debuted at the National Theatre, London and Yorkshire Playhouse before an American tour which included Berkeley Repertory Theatre and American Repertory Theatre in Boston

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His first play The 14th Tale won the prestigious Fringe First Award at the 2009 Edinburgh Festival and transferred to England's National Theatre the following year. Ellams was admitted to the Royal Society of Literature in 2018.  He is the recipient of a Live Canon International Poetry Prize, an Arts Council England Award, a Wellcome Trust Award, and the Liberty Human Rights Award.

ABOUT THE TEAM:

Guest Director Jerrell L. Henderson is a South Philadelphia native now based in Chicago. Previous Philadelphia area credits include Salt, Pepper, Ketchup co-produced by InterAct Theatre and Passage Theatre and Caged, created in collaboration with the NJ Prison Cooperative and Passage Theatre. Henderson has also directed for Children's Theatre of Charlotte and in Chicago at Eclipse Theatre and Boho Theatre.

Actor Keith Illidge takes on the challenging role of playing both brothers. Keith is a Delaware native who has worked in film, tv, and theatre in Philadelphia, New York, and Chicago. He received a Black Theatre Alliance Award nomination for his portrayal of Lincoln in Suzan Lori Park's Topdog/Underdog at Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre in Chicago. In Philadelphia, Keith has performed with Theatre in the X, Allens Lane, and the Prince Music Theatre.

UNTITLED opens Friday, April 26, 2019 at 8pm, with preview performances Wednesday, April 24 and Thursday, April 25, at 7pm. It runs for a total of 15 performances through Sunday, May 12, at 2pm. All performances will take place at the Louis Bluver Theatre at the Drake, 302 South Hicks Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102. South Hicks Street is right next to The Drake apartment building at 1512 Spruce Street.

The Takeaway – special post-show talks – will be held after the 7pm performances on Wednesdays, May 1 and 8. The Takeaway is a post-show exploration of the play's themes and relevant events by guest scholars and theatre practitioners. The May 1 Takeaway will feature a conversation with Nigerian-American textile artist Yemisi Ajayi about her work. The May 8 Takeaway will feature the actor and members of the production team.

Source: Inis Nua Theatre Company
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