Phillis In Boston
Written by Ade Solanke
Directed by Regge Life
This November, Revolutionary Spaces debuts Phillis in Boston, an original new play dramatizing a key moment in the life of both the nation and the celebrated poet Phillis Wheatley, enslaved author of the landmark book “Reflections on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.” Published in London in 1773, it was the first known book of poetry by an English-speaking person of African descent and the third book published by an American woman. Wheatley's book was brought to Boston on board the Dartmouth, the same ship that carried the controversial tea that would later be thrown in the harbor on December 16, 1773—the night famously known as the Boston Tea Party.
Written by award-winning British-Nigerian playwright and screenwriter Ade Solanke and directed by Regge Life, an Emmy-nominated producer, director, and writer, Phillis in Boston explores the multiple struggles for freedom underway in Boston shortly after Wheatley returned in 1773 from a whirlwind visit to London. Emancipated shortly after her return, she rejoins the African American community in New England as they engage in the work of creating a free society: questioning the slave-owning colonists’ true understanding of liberty, strategizing for the abolition of slavery, and debating which side to support in the ensuing revolutionary struggle.
The play celebrates friendship, love, community, and joy by centering Wheatley’s relationships with her friend and confidant Obour Tanner, her husband-to-be John Peters, and the dynamic abolitionist Prince Hall. Phillis in Boston examines slavery in New England through the lens of Wheatley’s complex relationship with her enslaver Susanna Wheatley, who supported Wheatley’s literary ambitions even as she kept her in bondage.
Phillis in Boston will be performed as a unique site-specific one-act play at the Old South Meeting House in Boston, where Wheatley and other revolutionaries were congregants. Built in 1729, Old South Meeting House was the largest indoor gathering space in colonial Boston as well as the location of raucous community meetings that took place in the run-up to the Boston Tea Party.
Phillis in Boston will run from Friday, November 3 to Sunday, December 3, 2023, with preview performances on November 1 and November 2.
Phillis In Boston is made possible through the generous support of the Cabot Family Charitable Trust, New England Women's Club Fund at The Boston Foundation, and Boston Tea Party 250th Anniversary Commemoration Transformational Partner Meet Boston. Revolutionary Spaces also thanks its travel partners JetBlue.
Premium ticket includes a guaranteed general admission seat in the first or second row of the center pews.
Adult Premium Ticket: $40
Youth Premium Ticket: $35
Member Premium Ticket: $30
Standard ticket includes a general admission seat anywhere on the main floor aside from the first or second row of the center pews.
Adult Standard Ticket: $30
Youth Standard Ticket: $25
Member Standard Ticket: $20
Groups of 10 or more people are eligible for a 30% discount! Simply add all the tickets for your group to your cart and a 30% discount will automatically be applied at checkout.
Get discounted tickets as a Revolutionary Spaces member! Become a Member today!
Performance Dates & Times
Doors open 30 minutes prior to the performance start time. Please arrive at least five minutes prior to showtime. Late audience members will be seated at the discretion of the stage manager.
Preview Performance: Wednesday, November 1 at 7:00 PM
Preview Performance: Thursday, November 2 at 7:00 PM
Opening Night: Friday, November 3 at 7:00 PM
Saturday, November 4 at 7:00 PM
Sunday, November 5 at 6:00 PM
Wednesday, November 8 at 7:00 PM
Thursday, November 9 at 7:00 PM
Friday, November 10 at 7:00 PM
Saturday, November 11 at 7:00 PM
Sunday, November 12 at 6:00 PM
Wednesday, November 15 at 7:00 PM
Thursday, November 16 at 7:00 PM
Friday, November 17 at 7:00 PM
Saturday, November 18 at 7:00 PM
Friday, November 24 at 7:00 PM
Saturday, November 25 at 7:00 PM
Tuesday, November 28 at 11:00 AM
Wednesday, November 29 at 7:00 PM
Thursday, November 30 at 7:00 PM
Saturday, December 2 at 7:00 PM
Sunday, December 3 at 6:00 PM
Tuesday, November 28 - Weekday Matinee Performance
Join us for a daytime performance of Phillis in Boston! Tickets are available online at a special discounted rate for adults, youth, and Revolutionary Spaces members. If you are a teacher interested in bringing your students, please contact booking@RevolutionarySpaces to learn more about our group discounts for schools. Doors open at 10:30 AM and the performance begins at 11:00 AM.
Wednesday, November 29 - Talkback with Director and Cast of Phillis in Boston
Following the performance, join us for an illuminating talkback with Phillis In Boston cast members Joshua Olumide (Prince Hall) and Bobby Cius (John Peters) and Director Regge Life. Audience members will have the opportunity to hear about the creative process and participate in a Q&A. This talkback will be moderated by Julius Hobert, Visitor Experience Manager at Old North Church, who is playing the role of Prince Hall in Revolutionary Spaces' Boston Tea Party reenactment. Click here to purchase tickets to the November 29 performance of Phillis in Boston.
Thursday, November 30 - Under 30 Night
In the spirit of Phillis Wheatley—who at a young age made waves with her poetry—Revolutionary Spaces invites you to gather together with fellow young creators and activists at the Phillis in Boston "Under 30” Night.
Anyone ages 30 and under can use discount code PHILLIS30 for 30% off your ticket to the November 30 performance of Phillis in Boston, which will be followed by an engaging panel discussion. Celebrate and delve into what it means to be a young person today who, like Wheatley, uses creative expression to motivate positive change.
- Arianna Diaz-Celon (they/she): Connectivity Producer at Company One, a multidisciplinary artist, educator, and organizer who uses the arts as a catalyst for community building and collective learning
- Adael Mejia (he/him): Worcester’s current youth poet laureate, with a passion for developing youth artists and growing the community
- Adreyanua Jean-Louis (she/her): cast member of Phillis in Boston (playing Phillis Wheatley)
- Serenity S’rae (she/her): cast member of Phillis in Boston (playing Obour Tanner)
- Regine Vital (she/her): Associate Producer at Actors' Shakespeare Project, a storyteller, theatre artist, administrator, and educator from Somerville, MA
This program is free and open to the public with tickets to Phillis in Boston. Light snacks and refreshments will be provided. Purchase tickets here.
Meet the Creative Team
ADEOLA SOLANKE (Playwright) is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and founder of Spora Stories. Her plays include her acclaimed debut Pandora’s Box, which won a Best New Play nomination in London’s Off-West End Theatre Awards and was shortlisted for the $100,000 Nigeria Prize for Literature, Africa’s biggest literary award. Her play The Court Must Have a Queen, commissioned by Historic Royal Palaces, was staged at Hampton Court Palace. Her work has also been performed at the Arcola, Almeida, Young Vic, and Sheffield Crucible theaters.
A double Fulbrighter, she was a ’22/’23 Fulbright Distinguished International Scholar at Emerson College and was formerly a Fulbright Fellow, Phi Beta Kappa International Scholar, and Association of American University Scholar at University of Southern California, where she earned an MFA from the School of Cinematic Arts. In Los Angeles, she was twice an Academy Nicholls Screenwriting Fellowship semi-finalist. A story analyst for New Line and Sundance, she also worked in the story department at Disney. Solanke has a BA Hons in English Literature from the University of Sheffield, winning its Distinguished Alumni Award in 2016. She has written for the BBC, The Guardian, The Times Literary Supplement, Art Monthly, The Voice, West Africa Magazine, and others. A Hawthornden Fellow, she was also a founding Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund and has run playwriting programs at the Royal Court, Soho, and Arcola theaters in London. She has also taught dramatic writing at universities in London and in Nigeria, Ghana, and Zimbabwe.
REGGE LIFE he/him (Director) is a producer, director, and writer. His latest show is Cross That River at 59E59 Theaters in New York City. For Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, MA, he directed the 2022 production of Hymn, the 2019 multiple Berkie Award-winning production of Topdog/Underdog, the widely-acclaimed Morning After Grace in 2018, God of Carnage in 2017, and Kaufman’s Barbershop in 2013. He has directed across the country with credits I Just Stopped by to See the Man for Milwaukee Rep, Yellowman and Gem of the Ocean for Pittsburgh Public Theater, Ghosts for the Pearl Theater, The Piano Lesson for Virginia Stage Company, A Walk in the Woods at Capital Rep, Rebel Armies Deep Into Chad, and Laurence Fishburne’s Riff Raff and Arthur Miller’s The American Clock for the Juilliard School. He is currently the Senior Distinguished Director in Residence at Emerson College in Boston.
Meet the Cast
BOBBY CIUS* he/him (John Peters) has made his mark in the Boston theater community with stellar performances in plays such as Pass Over (Speakeasy Stage), Pipeline (Central Square Theater), and K-I-S-S-I-N-G (Huntington Theatre) to name a few. Other stage credits include The Three Musketeers (Greater Boston Stage Company) and Black Odyssey Boston (Central Square Theater), and among his screen credits is Pause with Sam Jay (HBO).
ADREYANUA JEAN-LOUIS she/her (Phillis Wheatley) is thrilled to portray Phillis Wheatley and share her remarkable story within this historic building where most of Ms. Wheatley’s religious journey has unfolded. Recent roles include Khadia in Joumou at Fuse Theatre and Sister James in Doubt at New England Repertory Company. Adreyanua has received training from notable instructors at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in NYC, The Lucid Body in NYC, and The Open Program of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards in Italy/Turkey.
PRISCILLA MANNING* she/her (Susanna Wheatley) As someone who was born and raised in the “City of Presidents,” Priscilla has always felt a strong connection to Massachusetts’ history and the colonial era. Her credits include appearances at the Buffalo Studio Arena, the Kennedy Center, and W.H.A.T. as well as in national commercials, films, TV, and print. She is a proud member of AEA, SAG/AFTRA, and Chair of the DDTC.
JOSHUA OLUMIDE* he/him (Prince Hall) is happy to be working with the cast and crew of Phillis in Boston! Being a part of a new play is always an adventurous endeavor and bringing Prince Hall to life has been a privilege. Highlights of his theatre credits include: A Raisin in the Sun (New Repertory Theatre), Romeo and Juliet (Classic Theatre of Maryland), Macbeth (Hanover Theatre Rep), Our Town (People’s Light). You can catch him in the upcoming film American Fiction starring Jeffrey Wright.
SERENITY S’RAE she/her (Obour Tanner) Stage credits include the world premiere production of DIASPORA! at the New Repertory Theatre, Hair at Parallel 45 Theatre, and Not Your Average Story for Philadelphia Young Playwrights. While earning her BFA from Boston University, Serenity performed in plays including Uncle Vanya, Dontrell Who Kissed the Sea, and Baltimore, along with creating and directing the interdisciplinary project Somebody / Anybody Sing A Black Girl Song, an homage to Ntozake Shange.
DONNA CHAPLIN (Hair & Wig Designer) opened Epiphany Hair Care Studio in 2009, after 20 years of service to the late Olive Lee Benson, a trailblazer and icon in the black hair care industry. Her legacy of healthy hair care and education is a mainstay in our business model to date. At Epiphany, we help women of all ethnicities maintain and enhance curl through product knowledge and education. We are Boston’s premier hair care destination for wavy, frizzy, curly, relaxed, and natural hair. Their top priority is to make each visit pleasing by providing consistent, predictable services and results. We cater to all guests as a team, striving to achieve absolute satisfaction in a timely manner. The award-winning Chaplin and the Epiphany Hair Care team have been featured on WCVB’s Chronicle, BET’s Rip the Runway, recognized by the Improper Bostonian for Best Ethic Hair Salon, and more. Chaplin was awarded City of Boston Community Service Award by The African American Ball, and has lectured at leading institutions on entrepreneurship and innovation in service based industries. Chaplin is currently working on her first book, The Wide Tooth Comb, an instructional manual for parents of children with different hair textures to help promote positive self esteem and image.
BRENDAN F. DOYLE*** (Sound Designer) is a sound designer, engineer, and artisan working primarily in live performance applications: theatrical sound design, live music, and bespoke audio objects. He holds a MSc in Sound Design from the University of Edinburgh, and a BFA in Theatre Design and Technology from Emerson College. His work has been heard in bars, basements, chapels, and concert halls: he also works in theatres, at improvised venues of all sorts, and across the internet. He is a proud member of United Scenic Artists Local USA 829.
NARISSA “NARS” KELLIGER (Lighting Designer) Old Jake’s Skirts and Next to Normal (Emerson Stage); Our Dear Dead Drug Lord (Mercutio Troupe); sub (RareWorks Theatre Co.); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Emshakes); Fefu and Her Friends (Full Fathom Productions). BFA Emerson College.
CHLOE MOORE (Costume Designer) is a Boston-based educator, costume maker, and designer for opera, theatre, and dance. Recent design credits include Emerson Stage’s Cabaret, L’ile de Tulipatan, and As One with Boston Conservatory Opera; and OTP at Boston Playwrights Theatre. Her work has been seen in productions with the American Repertory Theatre, Central Square Theater, Boston Early Music Festival, and Boston University’s School of Theatre and Opera Institute. Since earning her MFA in Costume Design from BU in 2020, she has served as Faculty at Shenandoah University, Boston University, and Emerson College and as Costume Staff at American Players Theatre in Spring Green, WI. ChloeMooreDesigns.com
SHAN PARKER (Assistant Stage Manager) was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, and in the ’70s was part of the METCO program where he attended school in Lexington, Massachusetts. He graduated from Lexington High in the early ’80s. He found a passion for theatre in the Lexington school system and was a part of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, only to be captured by the classic Hamlet, turned into a musical. Last year Shan filled the seats at Emerson when he embarked on a show called Detroit Red where he found himself not able to sit still due to excitement over the splendor. With an enthusiastic zeal, Shan decided to venture forward in the arts and theatre by choosing to take part in the Massachusetts Arts Stagecraft Initiative, through Emerson College, to launch his behind the scenes desire to make theatre a career. Shan enjoys visualizing his future place in theatre in many different facets, from Sound Designing to Assistant Stage Management. Becoming a well-versed advocate for black and brown people in this industry is a deep rooted desire and a chance to shine in theatre for Shan. It is a major part of Shan’s growth and development to become a stagehand to be reckoned with out of Roxbury, MA.
ATHENA PARKMAN she/her (Costume Assistant) Undergrad student at Emerson College. BFA Technical Theatre and Design major with a concentration in costume design. Emerson Stage credits: Little Women (Costume Designer), The Loyals (Assistant Costume Designer), The Secret in the Wings (Wardrobe Supervisor), Spitfire Grill (Assistant Costume Designer), As You Like It (Assistant Wardrobe Supervisor), The Late Wedding (Dresser).
LATAYVEN PEEVY-MOORE she/her (Make-Up Designer) Owner and CEO of Royaltay.co. Latayven is a licensed esthetician who specializes in lash extensions, makeup, and brows. While welcoming you in with open friendly arms her mission is to help you “Define your natural beauty and alter ego” in addition to providing luxury esthetic services. She aims to help you uncover and the natural beauty that is already within you, while bringing out that inner and natural beauty. She digs in deeper, listens to who you are and to your wants, needs, and desires, bringing out that alter ego and allowing you to be the fierce person you are!
ELIZABETH YVETTE RAMIREZ* they/she (Production Stage Manager) is a stage manager, director, and labor leader from Boston. They have worked at over 20 theaters in Greater Boston including: A.R.T., Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Hanover Theater Rep, Speakeasy Stage, Lyric Stage, Central Square Theater, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, GBSC, New Repertory Theater, Reagle Music Theater, and many more. She also works in ballet, dance, and opera—and can be seen next at Urban Nutcracker with City Ballet of Boston. She advises student stage managers at Wellesley College and works with the award-winning fringe company Flat Earth Theatre. They are a proud elected councilor for Actors’ Equity, serving on numerous committees and working groups, and is always happy to talk about organized labor and anti-racist theater practices.
NERISSA WILLIAMS SCOTT (Producer) CEO of That Child Got Talent Entertainment, Boston, MA (tcgtentertainment.com) is a graduate of Hampton University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine and Performing Arts. A True Theatre Baby for Life! She is also a graduate of Emerson College, with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Film Production ’15. She is a Producer, Creative Producer, UPM, and Line Producer. Over the past ten years she has produced and served as production manager for a variety of live events, theatre productions, fashion films, TV series, documentaries/series, narrative features & shorts. She has been invited to participate in the Producer’s Guild of America’s Creates Program. She sits on the BOD for the Coolidge Theater in Brookline, MA as well as SSBC and WIFVNE. As CEO of That Child Got Talent Entertainment, Nerissa has created a company that is a bridge for young women of color to gain employment in the film and live event entertainment industry while serving the greater community.