Theatre Exile staging world premiere of 'Abandon' by Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright James Ijames

BySteph Walton WPVI logo
Sunday, May 7, 2023
Theatre Exile stages premiere of James Ijames' Abandon through May 21
Theatre Exile is staging the world premiere of 'Abandon', a play created by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright James Ijames.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- 'Abandon' is the latest creation from Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright James Ijames.

"We like to do plays filled with grit and passion. This play is absolutely filled with that," says Deborah Block, Producing Artistic Director at Theatre Exile in South Philadelphia.

Ijames created the show through Studio X-hibition, which is Theatre Exile's new play development program.

"The play takes place around two different families that are both a little broken in their own right, and the characters are trying to create family," says Block.

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The story follows the character, Luella.

Director Brett Ashley Robinson describes Luella as a woman who lives alone, but is "haunted by the memory of her son, Gabriel."

Melanye Finister plays the role of Luella.

"She's lost a son and there was an estrangement. There's been some heartache," says Finister of her character.

She says this impacted Luella and she's closed up as a result.

There are also two brothers who live together, Joshua and Chris.

Robinson describes their relationship as complicated.

"Joshua ends up breaking into Luella's house, but they ended up forming a friendship," says Robinson.

"They come to understand one another a little bit," says Finister.

Fat Ham is the work of South Philly-based playwright James Ijames.

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Robinson says through their friendship, "these two really lonely people" are able to find "companionship."

"It's a play about regrets and redemption," says Finister.

Block says that often the road to redemption is pretty rocky, just like life.

"James is so excellent at writing characters who have that deep, deep humanity inside of them," says Robinson.

She says this play holds so much heart and pain, but reminds us that there is support in community.

"There is healing when we open ourselves up to other people," says Robinson.

'Abandon' runs through May 21 at Theatre Exile in South Philadelphia.

'Abandon' Tickets

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