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April 03, 2023

Theatre Exile presents “Abandon” by James Ijames

The characters in "Abandon" embark on a spiritual and emotional journey, allowing them to reckon with their pasts and break free of isolation

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Limited - Theatre Exile - Abandon Main image Robert Hakalski/Visual Machinery

L to R: Carlo Campbell, Melanye Finister, Brenson Thomas in "Abandon"

This Spring, South Philadelphia-based theater company Theatre Exile (1340 S.13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147) is proud to present the world premiere of Abandon by Philadelphia-based, Pulitzer Prize-winner James Ijames. The show was created in partnership with Theatre Exile through their New Play Development Program, Studio X-hibition. Abandon will be the final production of its 2022/23 season and will have 22 performances from April 27 to May 21, 2023. The cast features notable local Philadelphia actors Carlo Campbell, Melanye Finister, Jared Chichester, and Brenson Thomas, with 2021 Pew Fellow Brett Ashley Robinson directing. Tickets are on sale now.

In Abandon, Joshua (Chichester) is a young man kicked out of his house one night by his mercurial older brother Chris (Campbell). Cold and desperate for food, he ends up breaking into the home of Luella (Finister), an elderly woman haunted by the ghost of her late son Gabriel (Thomas). Luella catches Joshua in the act but, instead of calling the police, decides to take pity and allows him to spend the night to escape the winter chill outside. With a baseball bat in one hand and a bowl of mac and cheese in the other, Luella soon realizes this young man shares a lot in common with her late son. As the night unfolds, these two lonely souls forge an unlikely bond as their respective pasts are brought to light.

The characters in Abandon embark on a spiritual and emotional journey, allowing them to reckon with their pasts and break free of their isolation. Ijames’s latest play is sometimes violent, sometimes healing. Abandon conjures a thin veil that separates the worlds of the living and the dead, shame and acceptance.

Ijames is an award-winning, critically-acclaimed playwright, director, and educator, who was recently awarded the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Drama for his play Fat Ham. The show drew immense praise for its creative reinvention of Shakespeare’s Hamlet as a modern drama. Ijames’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work made its Broadway debut at American Airlines Theatre in March 2023. The transfer marks Ijames’s and the National Black Theatre’s first production to be presented on Broadway. While its precursor is set to make history on the Broadway stage, audiences can experience Abandon in the powerfully intimate setting of Theatre Exile’s 90-seat black box theater.

“I'm excited to premiere Abandon with Theatre Exile,” said Ijames. “This play was inspired by my own recent journey with grief and loneliness. I wanted to explore how they impact a person and how someone can find their way out of that. At the same time, I was also interested in examining how people find family and community when their own families are perhaps not what they want them to be.”

Theatre Exile presents “Abandon” by James Ijames

Runs April 27 to May 21, 2023
Theatre Exile
1340 S. 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
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