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By James Baldwin
directed by Jeanette Harrison
with music direction by Cathleen Riddley

Join AlterTheater for this disturbingly timely play, written before the height of the Civil Rights Movement, by one of the nation's premier writers on race.


Starring AlterTheater associate artist Cathleen Riddley as Margaret, a preacher in Harlem who is determined to raise her son into a man, and keep him safe from the world. When her husband Luke, a jazz musican, shows up after 10 years, their son's future and wellbeing hangs in the balance. 

"riveting...the music is superb" --Marin Independent Journal
"Directed with strong attention to emotional detail...The Amen Corner is sensitive, insightful and powerfully moving, and like a good gospel tune, it's impossible to get out of your head" --North Bay Bohemian
"AlterTheater’s acting super; [Cathleen] Riddley’s musical direction is a major contributor to the production’s success and Jeanette Harrison’s staging is impeccable." --Pacific Sun
"Cathleen Riddley gives a powerful performance as Margaret, marvelously charismatic" --Marin Independent Journal
Starring: Cathleen Riddley*, with Rotimi Agbabiaka*, Tracy Camp*, Shani Harris-Bagwell, Kahlil Leneus, Anna McShea, Carla Pauli, Chauncey Roberts, George P. Scott, Erica Smith

Production: Gerry Grosz, Janice Koprowski, Laura Millar, Harrison Moye, Richard Sexton, Inna Shapiro, Emilie Talbot

The Amen Corner

in San Rafael  

April 22-May 17

at Body Kinetics (except Saturdays)


Saturdays, May 9th & May 16th

Smith Rafael Film Center

The Cast & Crew

Cathleen Riddley

 is proud to be an Associate Artist with AlterTheater.  She was seen here most recently in the 2013 co-winner of the National Latino Playwriting Award, Mariseal Treviño Orta’s The River Bride, as Sra. Costa (one of her very favorite roles), and will appear as Sister Margaret in The Amen Corner, as well as make her debut as Music Director with this show.  Favorite roles include Mrs. Price in Tree and Aldonza in Man of La Mancha, both at San Francisco Playhouse, Nurse in Medea at African American Shakespeare Company, Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance at Berkeley Playhouse, Calpurnia in To Kill a Mockingbird at TheatreWorks, and Lily in Crumbs from the Table of Joy at the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre.  She has performed in numerous other Bay Area theaters including Marin Theatre Company, Central Works, A.C.T., and Center Rep. She can be seen on the big screen in the feature film La Mission and on the small screen in reruns of the television series Trauma, as well as on a PBS commercial.  Cathleen jumps at every opportunity to participate in readings and workshops of new plays as she is committed to supporting playwrights in developing their work.  She has also been known to do some voiceover work for a variety of companies, including Sutter Health and Leapfrog.  In addition to that, Cathleen sings with two popular Bay Area bands, Sweetie Pie and the Doughboys, and Burnsy’s Sugar Shack.  Cathleen is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association and Theatre Bay Area, and is a PlayGround company member. She is an alumna of The Juilliard School Drama Division, a certified ASL Interpreter and has an MA from the University of Pennsylvania. A current project close to her heart is working with incarcerated men in San Quentin in their violence prevention program called No More Tears/Healing Circle.

Rotimi Agbabiaka

is thrilled to make his Alter Theater debut. He most recently appeared in We Are Proud To Present ... (Another Black Man) at Just Theater, Raisin in The Sun (Asagai) at Cal Shakes and Once On This Island (Armand) at TheatreWorks. He is a collective member of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, a former cast member at Beach Blanket Babylon, and his solo play, Homeless, won Best Solo Performance at the SF Fringe Festival. Mr. Agbabiaka studied at Moscow Art Theatre and earned his MFA from Northern Illinois University. You can see him next in Tarell Alvin McCraney's Choir Boy at Marin Theatre Company.

Tracy Camp

 is thrilled to perform with AlterTheater for the first time. Favorite past projects include Show Boat at San Francisco Opera, Big River, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Civil War Christmas, and Caroline, or Change at TheatreWorks, The Snow Queen 2.0 at San Jose Rep, Caroline, or Change at Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, Once on this Island and Little Shop of Horrors at the Willows Theatre Company, and Jerry Springer, the Opera at Ray of Light Theatre. Tracy is a recipient of the Theater Bay Area Titan Award and is a proud member of Actors’ Equity and the American Guild of Musical Artists.

Carla Pauli
debuted with AlterTheater as Gabriela in the award-winning production of References To Salvador Dali Make Me Hot by Jose Rivera. 

Other recent performances include Porchlight’s Scapin, Helena in All’s Well That Ends Well with Marin Shakespeare Company, Cutting Ball's Pelleas and Melisande, Farragut North with Open Tab Productions, The Merry Wives of Windsor with Curtain Theatre and Electricidad with Pacifica Spindrift Players. Other Bay Area theatre companies she has performed with are Woman's Will, Golden Thread Productions, Brava, NCTC's YouthAware, Magic Theatre and a number of other independent theatre companies. She is currently working on her second lead role in a feature film, White Rabbit, with Boxcar Pictures. Carla studies independently with various acting coaches as well as at American Conservatory Theater Studio. She is also a theatre arts educator with Spindrift School of Performing Arts, teaching and directing children's theatre. 

Chauncey Roberts

Chauncey Roberts (Luke/Ensemble), a native of Oakland, has worked as a dancer, actor, choreographer and entertainer for over 30 years. He has performed and taught dance thoughout Europe and the United States on stage, film, television and video, and has worked with such notables as Tina Turner, Donald McKayle. Chauncey has performed with the Vallejo Music Theater production of Sophisticated Ladies, where he received the “Lyric Award” for Best Male performer is a musical. He played the “Witch Doctor” in the Oakland Opera presentation of Duke Ellington’s “ Queenie Pie”.  Other credits include Adriana Lecouveur, (San Francisco Opera) Aida (Deutsches Theatre) Berlin, Blues Brothers. This is Chauncey’s debut with the AlterTheater.

Erica Smith

is thrilled to be in her third show with AlterTheater. She has performed and choreographed locally, Off-Broadway and abroad; and was a member of the Oakland Ballet and the Dance Brigade for many years.  Favorite theater roles include Anita in West Side Story and Rosie in ‘Bye, ‘Bye Birdie (The Mountain Play, for which she received a Dean Goodman Award), Vera in Seven Guitars (Lorraine Hansberry Theater) and Tituba in The Crucible (S.F. Playhouse).  Erica has performed in theater companies throughout the Bay Area, including with Porchlight Theater, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, the Oakland Public Theater and Word for Word.  Erica also does museum audio tour voiceovers and her voice can be heard in the Netherlands, Mexico City, and across the U.S., including the Academy of Arts and Sciences in S.F.  Her audio guide for the Kara Walker exhibition at the Whitney Museum of Art in New York won first prize (a gold Muse Award) at the American Association of Museums conference.

George P. Scott

is absolutely honored to be working with this profound piece of art with these amazing and talented cast. Some of his favorite roles in theatre are Jake in Sideshow at Altarena Playhouse, Sir Gwilliam & U/S King Arthur in Camelot at S.F. Playhouse, Simon Stimson in Our Town, Padamadan in Legally Blonde, Abraham in Romeo & Juliet & Thadius in Hairspray. Other stage credits include Jacob in La Cage Aux Folles (B.B.Bay), Queen Gene Jenie in How to Survive the Apocalypse, The Burning Man Opera (Teatro Zinzanni S.F), Benny in In the Heights (The COLORed Cabaret), & multiple roles of the West Coast premiere of Some Men (N.C.T.C.) His film credits: Guy 1 in All That She Surveys (Rotterdam, Lume & Zinebib International Film Festival) and the Music Producer in Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda music video. He would like to dedicate this show to his Dad. 


Shani Harris-Bagwell

was born and raised in San Francisco, California. She received her B.M. in Vocal Performance with an emphasis in Musical Theater from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana U.S.A. She has also performed with the Momma Drama Presents, Contra Costa Civic Theater and the African American Shakespeare Company. She currently sings with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. This will be her first production with AlterTheater Ensemble and she is very excited to have the opportunity to work with such a talented group. She currently resides in San Francisco with her dog, Sir Chauncy Terwilliger I; and cat, Lord Rogan Humperdink. 

Kahlil Leneus

is excited to perform with AlterTheater. He has performed in several shows including the Duke Ellington Opera Queenie Pie with Oakland Opera Theater, Caroline, or Change at Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, and Show Boat at San Francisco Opera. Kahlil is in the sixth grade and is in his first year at Oakland School for the Arts with an emphasis in theater. Kahlil is a huge Star Wars fan and he spends most of his days developing his already incredible light saber battle skills.

Anna McShea

 is exceptionally eager to be a part of AlterTheater’s performance of The Amen Corner. This will be her first onstage show, though she has been a part of musical competitions with her school in Fairfax, most recently the CMEA Choral Festival where her group was honored with a unanimous superior from the adjudicators. She is a 7th grade student at White Hill Middle School. She has done photography for the AlterTheater production of The River Bride, a voiceover for LeapFrog, and played Hermes in a school production of The Odyssey. A special thanks to the McShea/Riddley family, The Straus/Soriano family, and the Smith/Ondera families. This one’s for you guys!

Jeanette Harrison

is a co-founder of AlterTheater who trained as an actor and director in Chicago and Denver. With Ann Brebner, she co-directed the 2013 co-winner of the National Latino Playwriting Award, The River Bride, which was developed within AlterLab, AlterTheater's playwright residency program. Earlier this year, she co-directed (also with Ann Brebner) the world premiere AlterTheater commission Landless by Larissa FastHorse. Jeanette has worked primarily as an actor and a producer, shepherding more than 15 new plays to world premiere productions, including Theatre Bay Area Award finalist BABA by Denmo Ibrahim. She has worked in casting, theater education, and worked onstage, on-camera and off-camera in both the non-profit and commercial entertainment industry. She has worked with Cutting Ball (…and Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi by Marcus Gardley, winner of Best Production and Best Ensemble from the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle), Aurora Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, Magic Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Theatre Rhino, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Actors Theatre of Sonoma County, Sonoma County Rep, Golden Thread Productions, Woman’s Will, Playhouse West, and Combined Art Form Entertainment (C.A.F.E.), among others. With AlterTheater she appeared onstage in After the Fall, Owners, Intimate Apparel, References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot, and in the Bay Area premieres of Sex Parasite, Two Sisters and a Piano, and in the world premieres of Thirst, and A Man, his Wife, and his Hat (one of two finalists for the USA Pen Award, for best new play written west of the Mississippi, and published by Samuel French under its new title, The Hatmaker’s Wife).

Gerry Grosz

is known on the Bay Area jazz scene as a spirited performer on both piano and vibraphone.  A passionate, stylistically-diverse composer and songwriter, he was awarded "Song of the Year" by the West Coast Songwriters in 2004.  Grosz's credits include songs for a stage production of "The Phantom Tollbooth", music for the documentary "PDA (Public Displays of Affection)", and he cowrote the song "Bathtub Gin", the title track on the current cd by Roberta Donnay & The Prohibition Mob Band.  Grosz is a local piano teacher and dance accompanist by day, and is excited to be working with AlterTheater for the first time.

Janice Koprowski
Laura Millar
James Baldwin (playwright)

was born in Harlem, New York City, Aug. 2, 1924 and died on Nov. 30, 1987. He offered a vital literary voice during the era of civil rights activism in the 1950s and '60s. The eldest of nine children, his stepfather was a minister. At age 14, Baldwin became a preacher at the small Fireside Pentecostal Church in Harlem. After he graduated from high school, he moved to Greenwich Village. In the early 1940s, he transferred his faith from religion to literature. Critics, however, note the impassioned cadences of Black churches are still evident in his writing. Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953), his first novel, is a partially autobiographical account of his youth. His essay collections [Notes of a Native Son (1955), Nobody Knows My Name (1961), and The Fire Next Time (1963)] were influential in informing a large white audience. From 1948, Baldwin made his home primarily in the south of France, but often returned to the USA to lecture or teach. In 1957, he began spending half of each year in New York City. His novels include Giovanni's Room (1956), about a white American expatriate who must come to terms with his homosexuality, and Another Country (1962), about racial and gay sexual tensions among New York intellectuals. His inclusion of gay themes resulted in a lot of savage criticism from the Black community. Eldridge Cleaver, of the Black Panthers, stated the Baldwin's writing displayed an "agonizing, total hatred of blacks." Baldwin's play, Blues for Mister Charlie, was produced in 1964. Going to Meet the Man (1965) and Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone (1968) provided powerful descriptions of American racism. As an openly gay man, he became increasingly outspoken in condemning discrimination against lesbian and gay people.

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