Nelsan Ellis is also a director for those who didn't know; last year, we featured an ambitious short film he directed titled Page 36, which screened on the film festival circuit.
He's also currently working on a feature documentary called Damn Wonderful, which follows the lives of 6 young LGBT poets, from diverse backgrounds and experiences, offering an honest look into some of the challenges and triumphs this country's youth are facing.
But before that, Ellis will direc – this time for the stage – a Chicago production of a Katori Hall play, titled HooDoo Love. Katori Hall is a writer whose work we've covered on S&A, since our intro to her via The Mountaintop.
Described as a "moving tale of love, magic, jealousy and secrets," HooDoo love's synopsis reads:
Set in the 1930s… Toulou escapes from the Mississippi cotton fields to pursue her dream of singing the blues in Memphis. When she meets a rambling blues man, the notorious Ace of Spades, her dreams are realized in a way she never could have imagined.
Starring in the play are Christophé Abiel (as Ace of Spades), Toni Lynice Fountain (as Candy Lady), Mark Smith (as Jib) and Lynn Wactor (as Toulou).
The play will be the inaugural Chicago production of the The Collective Theatre (which Nelsan Ellis co-founded); and from a joint-statement with other Collective Theater co-founders, Francois Battiste, Veronda Carey, Le’Mil Eiland, Metra Gilliard and Jasond Jones:
"Each of us is a testimony to the benefits of having arts in the public school system. We are thrilled to continue the work we started so many years ago and to share our creativity with such a talented cast. Our goal has always been to bring people of various backgrounds together through the use of theater and to provide a forum for meaningful dialogue and creative expression. The production of HooDoo Love accomplishes this. It is a powerful masterpiece, wrought with complexity… yet so simplistically human; it’s a story that will move everyone who sees it."
The production will be housed at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Avenue in Chicago, and will run for a month, from September 22 to October 21.
Tickets are already available for purchase; you can buy online at www.athenaeumtheatre.org, or by calling the Box Office at (773) 935-6875.
A Katori Hall play directed by Nelsan Ellis should be something interesting to see. So if you're in Chicago, you should check it out.