Two River Theater Kicks-off Benefit Series With Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s YOUR BLUES AIN’T SWEET LIKE MINE Featuring Brandon J. Dirden, Andrew Hovelson, Merritt Janson, Roslyn Ruff and Glynn Turman on July 26

Two River Theater kicks off their series of benefit play readings with Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine on Sunday, July 26 at 7:00pm EDT. The show originally premiered at Two River in 2015; this reading will feature an updated script by Tony-Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson.

The reading will feature original cast members Brandon J. Dirden, Andrew Hovelson, Merritt Janson, and Roslyn Ruff with Glynn Turman coming on to play the role of Zebedee.

Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Photo by Lia Chang

Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine began with a thought that I woke up with one day: ‘I’d like to write a play where everyone said just what they felt on that specific day of their lives. Things that they’ve kept inside far too long,’ says Ruben Santiago-Hudson. As a writer I was always told that the only place that I will get to express my clear, undiluted, voice is in the theater. What they didn’t tell me is that every artistic director but one, John Dias, would reject that clear undiluted voice saying that their audiences were not ready to grapple with the race conversation. In times like these there is no conversation that is more important. It gives me great pleasure to share with you Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine. Let the conversation begin.”

Judith (played by Merritt Janson) and Zeke (Brandon J. Dirden) in the world premiere of “Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine” at Two River Theater, 21 Bridge Ave, Red Bank, (Photo: Michal Daniel)
Judith (played by Merritt Janson) and Zeke (Brandon J. Dirden) in the world premiere of “Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine” at Two River Theater.  (Photo: Michal Daniel)

All proceeds from this reading and the entire series will support Two River Theater. In addition, proceeds will be matched by a generous donor to benefit five organizations with a pressing need due to the impact of systemic racism and COVID-19. The beneficiary partner for this reading, selected by Playwright and Director, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, is The Ruben Santiago-Hudson Fine Arts Learning Center, a non-profit affiliate of the Global Concepts Charter School lifting up the lives of neighborhood children in Ruben’s hometown of Lackawanna, NY.

“When Two River Theater premiered Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine in 2015,” says Artistic Director John Dias “we were not prepared for the nerve it struck in our audience. The play helped to dismantle some barriers to an open conversation about race. Since then I’ve wished every other theater in America could benefit from Ruben’s honest and vulnerable invitation to employ the power of theater to change us in this way.”

A relationship is developing between Zeke, a self-described “walking outburst” and Judith, “a seeker of knowledge” with a hidden past. In this explosive and hopeful examination of America’s racial divides, they discover the true meaning of history, sacrifice and legacy. During the show’s initial run audiences were inspired to explore and discuss their own experiences of race relations on a personal, local and national level. The demand led to Two River adding post-play discussions following every performance.

Online benefit event tickets are $25 or $100 for the series of five readings and include access to live post-reading Q&As with the artists involved, hosted on Zoom. Sponsorships start at $1,000, and include additional benefits such as an invitation to a private virtual event with reading artists.

Benefiting organizations are identified by the playwrights and directors involved in each reading and include The Actors Fund, The Audre Lorde Project, and The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice. All artists will be paid for their involvement in the series.

For Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine, Two River Theater will also stream the reading on YouTube from Mon, July 27 at 10AM EDT – Thurs, July 30 at 7PM EDT. Streaming is free and donations of any amount from viewers will be greatly appreciated.

For more information on the Two River Rising series visit:

For more information on the Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine reading visit:

Lia Chang

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 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. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs. The Lia Chang theater portfolio collection,1989-2011, is in the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) collection located in the Library of Congress’ Asian Reading Room and can be accessed here.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2020 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at

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