Jocelyn Bioh’s NOLLYWOOD DREAMS to Close Cherry Lane’s 2017 Mentor Project Season, April 25-May 6

Jocelyn Bioh
Jocelyn Bioh

Cherry Lane Theatre will end its Obie award-winning MENTOR PROJECT 2017 season with Jocelyn Bioh’s NOLLYWOOD DREAMS, directed by Saheem Ali and mentored by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins at Cherry Lane (38 Commerce St.) from April 25 – May 6, 2017.

Ms. Bioh recently received a Lucille Lortel nomination for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play for her performance in Signature Theatre’s world premiere of Jacobs-Jenkins’ Everybody. Her new play School Girls; or The African Mean Girls Play, will have its world premiere at MCC Theater, directed by Rebecca Taichman, November 2-December 10, 2017.

Qui Nguyen’s VIETGONE Receives 3 Lucille Lortel Nods including Outstanding Play; Full List of Nominations 

Signature Theatre Presents World Premiere of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ EVERYBODY, Opens February 21 

Now in its 19th season, MENTOR PROJECT pairs new playwrights with seasoned writers for a season of play development, casting, rehearsals and a fully-staged production.

The cast of NOLLYWOOD DREAMS features Nyahale Allie (TV: “The Blacklist”), Kelechi Ezie (National Tour: Book of Mormon), Washington Kirk (NY: Patient, Lover, Friend), Nana Mensah (TV: “An African City”), Irungu Mutu (Off-Broadway: Our Lady of Kibeho), and Dorcas Sowunmi (Regional: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner).

In the 1990s, Nollywood (Nigerian film industry) is on the rise. Ayamma dreams of leaving her job at her parents’ travel agency and becoming a star. When she auditions for a new film by Nigeria’s hottest director, tension flares with his former leading lady – as sparks fly with Nollywood’s biggest heartthrob.

NOLLYWOOD DREAMS creative team includes Arnulfo Maldonado (Scenic Design), Dede Ayite (Costume Design), Chris Thiekling (Lighting Design), Matt Otto (Sound Design), Crystal Arnette (Video Design), Addison Heeren(Properties) and Michael Denis (Production Stage Manager).

NOLLYWOOD DREAMS plays April 25 – May 6, Tuesday – Friday at 7pm, Saturday at 5pm and 9pm, Sunday at 7pm. No performance Monday, May 1 or Tuesday, May 2. For info and reservations visit www.cherrylanetheatre.org or call OvationTix at 866 811 4111.

Cherry Lane’s MENTOR PROJECT received an Obie Award and James Kirkwood Award for American Playwrights for its dedication to providing professional opportunities for emerging writers to hone their craft in tandem with seasoned playwrights of note. The company ended their 2015-16 season with the world premiere of Israel Horovitz’s play OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES starring Francesca Choy-Key, Angelina Fiordellisi, Judith Ivey and Estelle Parsons. One of the most renowned theatres in the country, Cherry Lane Theatre has produced a large succession of plays by leading writers from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Gertrude Stein, Samuel Beckett, Edward Albee and Harold Pinter. Under the artistic leadership of Angelina Fiordellisi since 1996, Cherry Lane remains devoted to developing and producing new works for the stage. Diane Alianiello is General Manager, Seri Lawrence and Janio Marreroare Interim Producing Artistic Directors, Hillary Cohen is Director of Individual and Institutional Giving and Reed Ridgley is Grants Manager.

Jocelyn Bioh performs at the 2015 Steinberg Playwright Awards on November 16, 2015 in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang
Jocelyn Bioh performs at the 2015 Steinberg Playwright Awards on November 16, 2015 in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

Jocelyn Bioh (Playwright, Nollywood Dreams) is a 1st generation Ghanaian-American writer/performer from New York City. She has her BA in English and Theatre from The Ohio State University and MFA in Theatre-Playwriting from Columbia University School of the Arts. Ms. Bioh is a commissioned playwright with Manhattan Theatre Club and the Atlantic Theater Company and she is a Resident Playwright at LCT3. Her plays include: African Americans (Produced at Howard University 2015; Southern Rep Ruby Prize Award Finalist 2011; O’Neill Center Semi-Finalist, 2012), Nollywood Dreams (Kilroy’s List 2015) and her new play School Girls (Kilroy’s List 2016.) Her musical The Ladykiller’s Love Story, for which she conceived the story and wrote the libretto, with music/lyrics by Cee Lo Green, is currently in development with Hi-Arts NYC. As an actress, Ms. Bioh’s credits include: Everybody (Signature Theatre), Men on Boats (Playwrights Horizons), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Broadway; Tony Award Winner for Best Play, 2015), An Octoroon (Soho Rep, Obie Award Winner for Best Play, 2014), Booty Candy (Wilma Theater), Seed (Classical Theater of Harlem, Audelco Award Nominee), and Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet (City Theatre). She also originated the role of “Topsy” in the world premiere of Neighbors (The Public Theater, Audelco Award Nominee). TV: Former Cover Girl spokesmodel, “Blue Bloods” (CBS), “The Detour” (TBS), “The Characters” (Netflix), “Louie” (FX), and “One Life to Live” (ABC).

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and Dominique Morisseau receive 2015 Steinberg Awards at the 8th Annual ‘Mimi’ Awards 

Paulina, the reigning Queen Bee at Ghana’s most exclusive boarding school, has her sights set on the Miss Universe pageant. But the mid-year arrival of Ericka, a new student with undeniable talent and beauty, captures the attention of the pageant recruiter – and Paulina’s hive-minded friends. Jocelyn Bioh’s buoyant and biting comedy explores the universal similarities (and glaring differences) facing teenage girls across the globe.

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Photo by Lia Chang
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Photo by Lia Chang

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Mentor) Credits include Everybody (Signature Theatre), War (LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater), Gloria (Vineyard Theatre; Pulitzer Prize-finalist), Appropriate (Signature Theatre; Obie Award), An Octoroon (Soho Rep; Obie Award) and Neighbors (The Public Theater). He is a Residency Five playwright at Signature Theatre and under commissions from LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater, MTC/Sloan, and the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. His recent honors include the MacArthur Fellowship, the Windham-Campbell Prize for Drama, the Benjamin Danks Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation Theatre Award, the Steinberg Playwriting Award, and the Tennessee Williams Award. He currently teaches in the Hunter College Playwriting MFA Program, where is a Master-Artist-in-Residence.

Saheem Ali (Director) Originally from Nairobi, Kenya, Saheem is a director of plays and musicals with an emphasis on new work. Recent credits include Dot (Detroit Public Theater), The Booty Call (Inner Voices) and A Lesson from Aloes (Juilliard). He has workshopped new plays by Donja Love, Jocelyn Bioh, Jen Silverman, Nathaniel Shapiro, Phillip Howze, Eric Micha Holmes and James Ijames at Playwrights Realm, MCC, New York Stage & Film, National Black Theater and PEN World Voices. He has co-written two musicals with composer Michael Thurber: The Booty Call (Roundabout Underground Reading Series) and Goddess (O’Neill Musical Theater Conference). He was the associate director of The Tempest at The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park. He is a Usual Suspect and former Directing Fellow at New York Theater Workshop. Upcoming productions include Twelfth Night at The Public Theater, Kill Move Paradise at National Black Theater and Romeo & Juliet at Commonwealth Shakespeare Company.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.

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