"The Royale is a remarkable new play at American Theater Company by the writer of Orange is the New Black" - Chicago Tribune

Jeff Recommended

"The Royale throws a power punch to the soul... Highly Recommended" - Sun-Times

The Royale

America. 1905. Combining innovative theatricality with a blistering story, Marco Ramirez explores the rise of Jack Johnson, the world’s first black heavyweight champion, and the sacrifices he makes to take his place in history. ATC Ensemble Member Jaime Castañeda (Welcome to Arroyo’s) directs this Chicago premiere by Ramirez, writer of Netflix’s critically acclaimed Orange is the New Black and the upcoming Marvel's Daredevil.

Previews are Feb 20-22; $38 tickets

Opens to the public on Feb 26, runs until March 29

Wednesday at 8pm (March 18th & 25th)
Thursday-Saturday at 8pm
Saturday and Sunday at 2pm
Sundays at 5pm (March 22nd & 29th)

$48 for Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturday matinees, and Sundays
$60 for Friday and Saturday evenings

design team

Marco Ramirez (Playwright) has had plays produced at The Gift Theatre (Chicago), Center Theatre Group (LA), The Old Globe (San Diego), The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (DC), and the Humana Festival of New American Plays (Louisville). Currently under commission at Playwrights Horizons and Center Theatre Group, he’s also an Emmy Award-nominated television writer, where his credits include Sons of Anarchy (FX), Orange is the New Black (Netflix), and the upcoming Marvel’s Daredevil (Netflix). He is not a doctor, but you can send him your thoughts on Twitter @MarcoRamirezMD.

Jaime Castañeda† (Director) The Royal Society of Antarctica, Portland Center Stage, JAW festival; Tiger Style!, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center; The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, Dallas Theater Center; Chimichangas and Zoloft, Atlantic Theater Company; How We Got On, Cleveland Playhouse; Welcome to Arroyo’s, American Theater Company, The Old Globe, Summer Play Festival; Red Light Winter, Perseverance Theatre; The Motherf**ker with the Hat, Kitchen Dog Theater; A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Harold Clurman Lab; Biggest A**hole Ever Born, INTAR; Timberbrit, Ontological-Hysteric Theater; One for the Road, Directorfest; This is How it Goes, Amphibian Stage Productions; A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant, Circle Theatre; and Blue/Orange and Sonnets for an Old Century, FireStarter Productions. Jaime is a Drama League fellow and has received the Princess Grace Award and the TCG New Generations Grant. He is currently the Associate Artistic Director at La Jolla Playhouse. Previously he spent five seasons with the Atlantic Theater Company, and has been an ensemble member with American Theater Company since 2008. M.F.A. Directing, University of Texas at Austin.

Brian Sidney Bembridge, U.S.A. (Scenic and Lighting Designer) has designed sets and lights for The Big Meal (Jeff Nomination), Living Out, and Tin Types at ATC. His extensive design credits in Chicago include work at the Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare, The Second City, Lookingglass, TimeLine Theatre Company, Court Theatre, Writers Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, Teatro Vista, Northlight Theatre, Drury Lane and Ravinia Festival. He has worked Off-Broadway at the Public Theater, Second Stage Theatre, Jean Cocteau Repertory Theatre, Kids With Guns and Theatre at St. Clements. Internationally, Brian has designed at Theatre Royal Stratford East in London; Town Hall Theatre in Galway, Ireland; and Illawarra Performing Arts Centre and Platform Hip Hop Festival in Sydney, Australia. Regionally, hiscredits include the Guthrie Theatre and Children’s Theatre Company (Minneapolis); Asolo (Florida), St. Louis, Milwaukee and Madison repertory theatres; Pittsburgh Public Theater; Arden Theatre and Theatre Exile (Philadelphia); Actors Theatre of Louisville; Alliance Theatre (Atlanta); Cleveland Playhouse; Geffen Playhouse and Circle X Theatre (Los Angeles); Opera Omaha; and Virginia Opera. He is a multiple recipient of the Jeff Award, LA Drama Critic Circle Award, Garland Award as well as an LA Ovation Award and an LA Weekly Award. Brian represented the United States at the Prague Quadrennial in 2011 with The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity. Film production designs include Marie and Bruce, Holding Out, Stray Dogs and Late For Church, and sets for Muppets From Space. Visit briansidneybembridge.com.

Stephanie Paul (Composition and Music Direction) is a dancer, choreographer, musician, teacher and director. She is a Co-Founder, Artistic Director and ensemble member of Be the Groove, a Chicago based rhythmic performance ensemble. She is on dance faculty at Dance Center Evanston and has taught for her alma mater Northwestern University, Chicago National Association of DanceMasters, Des Plaines Dance Idol and Tulsa's Dance Profusion Project. Her choreography has been set on Ohio Northern University, Northwestern University and companies including Evanston Dance Ensemble, Lake Forest Dance Academy and M3 of Mohler Dance Academy. Stephanie also works extensively in theater as a Resident Director for Albany Park Theater Project providing direction, choreography and music for Feast, Home/Land, I Will Kiss These Walls and God's Work. Additional theater credits include Movement Consultation for Water by the Spoonful at Court Theatre and Movement Direction for Six Stories Tall at Adventure Stage Chicago and Lookingglass Theatre's LAB program.

Mikhail Fiksel (Sound Designer) is a dj/composer/designer based in NYC and Chicago where his recent credits include The Old Man and The Old Moon (New Victory and Williamstown Theatre Festival), My Manana Comes (Playwrights Realm), World of Extreme Happiness (Manhattan Theatre Club), Venus in Fur (Goodman Theatre) and Death and The Maiden (Victory Gardens). Other recent endeavors include projects with The Old Globe Theatre, PlayCompany, Long Wharf Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre, Dallas Theatre Center, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, The Geffen Playhouse, Second Stage Theatre, Writers Theatre, TimeLine, The Seldoms, Lucky Plush, The Hypocrites and Redmoon Theater. Recent film work includes scores for feature films Glitch, The Wise Kids and In Memoriam. He has received several Joseph Jefferson Awards, a Lucille Lortel Award, and the Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award. He is an Artistic Associate with TimeLine Theatre, Teatro Vista and Redmoon and on the faculty at Loyola University Chicago and University of Chicago.

Christine Pascual (Costume Designer) Christine is delighted to be working with ATC and Jaime once again. Recently she designed the workshop productions of Feathers and Teeth, The Magic Play, and Carlyle for New Stages at the Goodman Theatre, Tamer of Horses for Teatro Vista, Ecstasy for Cole Theatre, Eat Your Heart Out for Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Pinkolandia at 16th Street Theater, A View From the Bridge at Teatro Vista, Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England at Theater Wit, Seven Guitars at Court Theatre, Mr. Chickee's Funny Money, the workshop productions of Goodman New Stages Festivals in 2013 and 2012, and The Happiest Song Plays Last, Fish Men, El Nogalar at the Goodman Theatre as well. Other Chicago credits include Boeing Boeing at Drury Lane, Disconnect,The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, Relatively Close, The Romance of Magno Rubio, Hambone, Blackbird and We are Proud to Present a Presentation....,at Victory Gardens Theater; Mr. Chickee's Funny Money, Bud, Not Buddy at Chicago Children’s Theatre; Trevor, Simpatico, Megacosm at A Red Orchid Theatre; Four of Us at Theatre Wit; Burn This at Shattered Globe Theatre; Wrens with Rivendell Theatre Ensemble; Madagascar at Next Theatre Company; White Tie Ball for Teatro Vista. Other theater companies she designed for include Urban Theater, Next Theatre, Shattered Globe, Remy Bumpo, Congo Square, Apple Tree, Chicago Dramatists, Defiant Theatre, Onyx Theatre. Regional credits include The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity at Second Stage Theatre, NY, Fences at Virginia Stage and Joe Turner's Come and Gone at Centerstage, Baltimore.

Jimmy Jagos (Properties Designer) is ecstatic to be back with American Theater Company for this Chicago premiere. Jimmy graduated from Illinois State University in 2012 and immediately moved to Chicago to pursue his designing dreams. In just a few short years he has found steady work as a set designer with various companies including Kid Brooklyn Productions (The Shape of Things), Mary Arrchie (The Brig), NoraNina Productions (The Bachelorette), and is currently designing for Chicago Tap Theatre (Tight Wire). He is an Artistic Associate at Nothing Without a Company producing puppets and props for their infamous Alice, a free-traveling show in Lincoln Park. His most recent work as a Properties Designer include (Rocky Horror) Underscore Theater, and (Hair) American Theater Company. Stay tuned for more Jagos designs this season at American Theater Company.

Matt Dominguez (Assistant Director) is glad to return to ATC where he has directed premieres for both Big Shoulders and 10x10 Festivals and assistant directed The Catholic Repertory: Doubt & Agnes of God. He served as Assistant to Artistic Director PJ Paparelli during the 2011-2012 season, where he had the opportunity to cast the world premiere of Disgraced, directed by Kimberly Senior, and Rent, directed by David Cromer. A graduate of Truman State University, other credits include Crazy Eights and The Little Dog Laughed (TSU), Men Exposed (Redtwist Theatre), as well as assisting on The Whipping Man (Northlight Theatre), A Body of Water (Redtwist Theatre), and The Great God Pan (Next Theatre). Next, he will be directing the Chicago Premiere of the musical Glory Days for Refuge Theatre Project's inaugural season. Incredibly grateful to Jaime for this opportunity and Marco for this thrilling and daring play.

Katrina Herrmann* (Stage Manager) is happy to be working at American Theater Company again. In Chicago, she has worked at TimeLine Theatre Company, Light Opera Works, and Oak Park Festival Theatre. In New York, she worked at Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan Theatre Club, The Public Theater, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and Theatreworks/USA. She graduated from the Illinois Math and Science Academy and earned a BFA in Stage Management from DePaul University. During the holidays, she works for Santa Claus at Macy's in New York City.

PJ Paparelli (Artistic Director) is in his eighth season as Artistic Director of American Theater Company. His ATC directing credits include The Humans, Hair, Sons of the Prophet, columbinus (Five Jeff Nominations), The Catholic Rep: Doubt & Agnes of God, The Original Grease (Jeff Award for Best Musical), Escape, The Amish Project, Distracted, Yeast Nation, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, The Black & White Rep: True West, and the regional premiere of Speech & Debate (Jeff Nomination). He made New City’s “Top 50 Most Influential Theatre Players in Chicago ‘08, ‘11, & ’13.” His ATC writing credits include columbinus and Every Year is This Year, which was co-written by Maria Irene Fornes for ATC’s The Silver Project. He is currently developing The Project(s), a documentary play on the history of Chicago’s public housing.
From 2004-07, he was the Artistic Director of Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, Alaska. During his tenure, Perseverance expanded its staff, completed a $1.1M facility expansion/renovation and $1M Endowment campaign and sent productions Off-Broadway, to Washington DC, and around the country. His directing credits include Equus, The Who’s Tommy, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Hair, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Voyage, and columbinus. PJ conceived and co-adapted Raven Odyssey, a theatrical journey of Alaska Native Raven stories, gathered through interviews with Elders across the state.
In 2002, PJ conceived, co-wrote, and directed columbinus, a documentary-style play about modern adolescence through the lens of the Columbine Shootings. The play had its world premiere at Round House Theatre and Perseverance Theatre, and moved off-Broadway to New York Theatre Workshop. Ten years later, PJ returned to Littleton, Colorado to re-interview survivors and write a third act, which premiered at ATC and toured to ArtsEmerson in Boston. columbinus was nominated for 2 Lucille Lortel Awards, 5 Helen Hayes Awards, and 5 Joseph Jefferson Awards and has seen over 100 productions around the world.
From 1998-2004, he served as the Associate Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC, where his directing credits include Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, Love Letters (with Dixie Carter and Hal Holbrook), All’s Well That Ends Well (Classical Acting Conservatory), The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Merchant of Venice at the Shakespeare Free For All. He was associate director on Much Ado About Nothing starring Karen Ziemba, and The Oedipus Plays starring Avery Brooks at the Athens Festival in Greece. In 2011, he returned to direct The Two Gentlemen of Verona for the Theatre’s 25th Anniversary. His DC productions include Romeo and Juliet (The Folger), a collaboration with Terrence McNally on a new version of Corpus Christi at Source Theatre (2003 GLAAD Media Award), The Diaries (Signature Theatre) and Love’s Labour’s Lost (Washington Shakespeare). The Washington Post called PJ, “One of the most exciting talents working in Washington.”
Other directing credits include Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis), Twelfth Night at Shakespeare Santa Cruz (2005 Newsweek’s Top 5 summer productions), The Merchant of Venice (American Shakespeare Center), Escape (Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival), Action (Circle Rep) and True West in Russian at the Moscow Art Theatre School. He has worked in education/administration at The Public Theater, Pittsburgh Public, and Circle Rep, and has directed and/or taught Shakespeare at The Juilliard School, the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College, NC School of the Arts, U of Alaska, UNC at Chapel Hill, Catholic U, U Penn, and Johns Hopkins University. He holds a BFA in Directing from Carnegie Mellon University and graduate studies in acting at the Moscow Art Theatre School. He is a member of SDC and is represented by Creative Artists Agency in New York.

the ensemble

Jerod Haynes (Jay) was born and raised on Chicago’s South Side and is excited to work with American Theater Company again. His previous production with ATC was columbinus (2013). Jerod was most recently seen in Court Theatre's World Premiere of Native Son, taking on the role of Bigger Thomas. Jerod also played the role of Walter Lee in TimeLine Theatre's production of A Raisin in the Sun directed by Ron O.J. Parson, which ran for 100 shows. Other theater credits include Court Theatre's Seven Guitars as the role of Canewell, Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s production of To Kill a Mockingbird as Tom Robinson, and appearances at Chicago’s ETA Theater in their productions of Contribution and Greensboro 4: Downpayment on Manhood. Jerod Haynes TV credits include Empire (FOX), Sense8 (Netflix), Crisis (NBC), Betrayal (ABC), Mob Doctor (FOX), and The Great Melting Pot (Web Series). Film work includes Consumed (2015), Animals (2014), For The Cause, The King (Short), Blame (Short). Jerod is also the voice for villain Delford 'Iraq' Wade in Ubisoft's video game WATCH_DOGS. Jerod has spent time in the UK where he studied at the British American Drama Academy (BADA). He also finished the entire training program at the Acting Studio Chicago. Jerod thanks God and dedicates his work to his daughter Jalaiya.

Edwin Lee Gibson* (Wynton) last performed in Chicago as “Jackson” in the Congo Square Theatre Company production of Brian Tucker’s play St. James Infirmary, directed by Harry J. Lennix (2009). 2014 theatre and television credits only listed: U.S. premiere of Caryl Churchill’s Love and Information (New York Theatre Workshop/Minetta Lane Theatre); Turquoise (Dixon Place Theatre, NYC); The Death of Bessie Smith (New Brooklyn Theatre); The Bellagio Fountain Has Been Known To Make Me Cry (Concrete Temple Theatre Company, NYC); three episodes of Law and Order, SVU, in the role of Counselor Orton Freeman. In 2006, Mr. Gibson received the coveted OBIE Award (Off-Broadway In Excellence) for Outstanding Performance.

Mildred Marie Langford* (Nina) is very blessed to be making her ATC debut in The Royale. Other Chicago credits include: Animal Farm, Venus, The Twins Would Like To Say and The Crucible (Steppenwolf Theatre); Luck of the Irish and The Overwhelming (Next Theatre); A Raisin in the Sun, My Kind of Town and In Darfur (TimeLine Theatre); The Three Musketeers and The 13 Clocks (Lifeline Theatre); A Raisin in the Sun (Milwaukee Repertory Theater); FAILURE: A Love Story (Victory Gardens Theater); Freshly Fallen Snow (Chicago Dramatists); SINBAD: The Untold Tale and Ghost of Treasure Island (Adventure Stage Chicago); A Civil War Christmas (Northlight Theatre). T.V. Credits: Boss. Mildred is a graduate of George Mason University and The School at Steppenwolf. She is also a proud company member of TimeLine Theatre. Let your LIGHT shine!

Julian Parker (Fish) is a founding member and Executive Director of Definition Theatre Company. A graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Professional credits include: Genesis, Dutchman, The Brothers Size (Definition Theatre Company); Hamlet (Writers Theatre); BlackTop Sky (Theatre Seven of Chicago) in the Steppenwolf Garage Repertory and understudy in the world premiere of Head of Passes (Steppenwolf Theatre). Julian also originated the role of William in Gospel of Franklin, in Steppenwolf's First Look Series. Television credits include Chicago PD. Julian also had the privilege of studying abroad at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London.

Philip Earl Johnson* (Max) returns to ATC where he was seen in the world premiere of The Big Meal (Jeff Award for Best Ensemble) and It’s A Wonderful Life. He was most recently seen as Robert Nichols in Danny Casolaro Died For You at TimeLine Theatre. Other Chicago credits are: The Dance of Death (Jeff Award Best Production) and Old Glory at Writers Theatre; Tartuffe, Skylight, The Dead and The Mystery Cycle at Court Theatre; Conquest of the South Pole at Famous Door Theatre; The Herbal Bed at Chicago Shakespeare; the world premiere of Picasso at the Lapin Agile at Steppenwolf Theatre, Talking Pictures, The Actore and Brutality of Fact at the Goodman Theatre; the first national tour of Angels in America: Parts I & II, originating at The Royal George Theatre. In Los Angeles he was seen as Jamie in The Moon for the Misbegotten at The Laguna Playhouse. His film/TV credits include Chicago Fire, Mind Games, Underemployed, Dharma and Greg, The Untouchables, Early Edition and The Out-Of-Towners. Throughout the year he performs his one man solo comedy show MooNiE the Magnif'Cent: Juggler, Ropewalker, FooLiSh MoRTaL! He has a B.S. in Theatre from Illinois State University and spent ten summers playing the Illinois Shakespeare Festival.

Eric Gerard (Ensemble), who is a proud graduate of Black Box Acting's: The Academy, is the understudy for Purley "Fresh Fish" Hawkins, and a part of the ensemble for The Royale. He has previously been seen understudying for Anthony in I and You (Redtwist Theatre), and Leroy Moton in Outside Agitators (20% Theatre), and as Jesse in the short film Scalene. He is extremely grateful to be working with ATC and the wonderful cast and crew of this production.

Jeffery Freelon (Ensemble) is a Chicago native and recent graduate of the University of Michigan, Music, Theatre and Dance School, where he studied Acting. Jeffery comes back to Chicago planning to hone and craft his newly begotten skills in the hardest working city of them all, before taking on the world. Jeffery has been blessed to play an array of different roles while in college, from John Proctor in The Crucible and Nihad Harmanni in Scorched, to Lincoln in Topdog Underdog. Jeffery made his Chicago debut as the “Bridegroom” in Pursuit Production’s Blood Wedding and he has also been fortunate enough to understudy for Othello under the acclaimed director Jonathon Berry and is a proud performer for Redmoon Theatre. With all that, Jeffery is very excited to work with American Theater Company in bringing the unique story of The Royale to life.

Letter from PJ

Dear Friends,

Welcome to American Theater Company and the Chicago premiere of The Royale, written by Marco Ramirez and directed by ensemble member Jaime Castañeda.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.” How often do we see this from the most consequential to the most mundane of life’s challenges? We want (and in some cases need) to lose weight, yet how many of us try fads and fasts instead of introducing long-term exercise and diet change? We elect leaders or hire managers and expect them to make things better, but get frustrated if taxes are raised, employees are let go, the workload is increased or it just doesn’t happen fast enough. So often we want the idea of change, but do not have the patience or tolerance for the sacrifice and hardship that goes with it.

The Royale is about change. The fictional Jay Jackson —inspired by the life of Jack Johnson— dreams of an equal society. When he realizes that change is within his grasp, he is faced with the consequences. What motivates him? Is it selfish or selfless? Does he just want change to happen or does he want to be the one who made it happen? Marco’s American allegory looks at the complex factors that drive those leaders who usher change through unimaginable sacrifice.

Through our American Mosaic educational program, over 900 Chicago Public School students are studying The Royale. Throughout the next four weeks, students will come to ATC to perform their versions of the play, and complete their experience by attending a matinee performance and discussing their choices and opinions with the acting company. American Mosaic enters its seventh year of serving our community. We are grateful to Polk Bros. Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Robert and Isabel Bass Foundation, and Fogelson Family Foundation, the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and Boeing Employees Community Fund for supporting this work. We are committed to providing arts education to our community free of charge in neighborhoods where it is needed the most. Please help us continue this service to our community with a tax-deductible donation. Without your support, we simply cannot do this necessary work. Please give. You’ll be so glad that you did.

Sit back, relax and enjoy The Royale. Thank you for coming to American Theater Company. We’re glad that you’re here.

Your Artistic Director,
PJ Paparelli