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Written by James Ijames
Directed by Brett Ashley Robinson
April 27, 2023 — May 21, 2023

Opening Night: May 3, 2023

Theatre Exile, 1340 S. 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147

World Premiere

Honorary Producers
Linda & David Glickstein and Susan & Edward Hoffman
Associate Producers
Gayle & David Smith and The Brothers Network

Featuring: Carlo Campbell, Melanye Finister, Jared Chichester, and Brenson Thomas


Luella is alone – haunted by the ghost of her son. Joshua is alone – kicked out of his house by his brother. One winter night these two people collide. Luella is looking for redemption; Joshua is looking for family. By the next morning, these two lonely souls are meshed together into an American Family in its truest sense. A world premiere by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright James Ijames, Abandon is sometimes violent, sometimes healing; with a gossamer veil that separates the worlds of the living and the dead, and shame and acceptance.

Show Dates & Times


THU, April 27, 7PM- $10
FRI, April 28, 8PM- $20
SAT, April 29, 8PM- $20 

SUN, April 30, 3PM- $20 
TUE, May 2, 7PM- $20
WED, May 3, 7PM- Sold Out
THU, May 4, 7PM- $30
FRI, May 5, 8PM- $35
SAT, May 6, 8PM- $40
SUN, May 7, 3PM* – $40
WED, May 10, 7PM- $30
THU, May 11, 7PM*– $30
FRI, May 12, 8PM- $35
SAT, May 13, 8PM- $40
SUN, May 14, 3PM- $40
MON, May 15, 7PM- $20
WED, May 17, 7PM- $30
THU, May 18, 12PM*- $20

THU, May 18, 7PM- $30
FRI, May 19, 8PM- $35
SAT, May 20, 8PM- $40

SUN, May 21, 3pm- $40

Melanye Finister* (Luella) is an artist and resident company member at People’s Light, a member of Wilma Hothouse, and an artistic advisory board member at PlayPenn. People’s Light: The Diary of Anne Frank, The Matchmaker, All My Sons, Fences, The Winter’s Tale, Seven Guitars, The Return of Don Quixote, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Something You Did, Fabulation, and The Member of the Wedding. Theatre Includes: Wilma Theater, Arden Theatre Company, Flashpoint Theatre Company, InterAct Theatre Company, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Venture Theatre, Temple Theaters and Walnut Street Theatre. Training: BFA, Carnegie Mellon University.

Brenson Thomas* (Gabriel) is a Black and queer writer, actor, and theatre-maker. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College’s MFA Theatre program, his plays include how i got over, or…red Kool-Aid stains on bubblegum lips; What We Lost & Never Knew; and How We Return, an upcoming commission for Constellation Stage & Screen in Bloomington, IN. Brenson also writes for TV/Film, most recently on Emmy Award winner Lena Waithe’s Twenties on BET. As a performer, Brenson has collaborated with Tony Award Winner Stew, Raja Feather Kelly, Lightning Rod Special in The Appointment (FringeArts/Next Door at NYTW; Barrymore Nominee for Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical), Arden Theatre Company in the world premiere of R. Eric Thomas’ Backing Track, and Into the Woods, and with 1812 Productions for This is the Week That Is: 2020, and the Wilma Theater. When he’s not hunched over his laptop crying about blank Google docs, Brenson enjoys long walks around his beloved Philly, doing bad accents, smashing patriarchal white supremacist structures, and Beyoncé.

James Ijames (Playwright) is a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, a director and educator. 

James’ plays have been produced by Flashpoint Theater Company, Orbiter 3, Theatre Horizon, Wilma Theatre, Theatre Exile, Azuka Theatre (Philadelphia, PA), The National Black Theatre, JACK, The Public Theater (NYC), Hudson Valley Shakespeare Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre, Definition Theatre, Timeline Theater (Chicago IL) Shotgun Players (Berkeley, CA) and have received development with PlayPenn New Play Conference, The Lark, Playwright’s Horizon, Clubbed Thumb, Villanova Theater, Wilma Theater, Azuka Theatre and Victory Garden. 

James is the 2011 F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Artist recipient, and two Barrymore Awards for Outstanding Direction of a Play for The Brothers Size with Simpatico Theatre Company and Gem of the Ocean with Arden Theatre. James is a 2015 Pew Fellow for Playwriting, the 2015 winner of the Terrance McNally New Play Award for WHITE, the 2015 Kesselring Honorable Mention Prize winner for ….Miz Martha, a 2017 recipient of the Whiting Award, a 2019 Kesselring Prize for Kill Move Paradise, a 2020 and 2022 Steinberg Prize and the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Drama recipient.

James was a founding member of Orbiter 3, Philadelphia’s first playwright producing collective. 

He received a B.A. in Drama from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA and a M.F.A. in Acting from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. James an Associate Professor of Theatre at Villanova University. He resides in South Philadelphia.

Melody Wong – Stage Manager

Janet Embree (Production Manager) is thrilled to be joining the team at Theatre Exile. She has managed productions at Lantern Theater Company, Opera Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Ballet and Philadelphia Artist’s Collective, among others. She spent several years at the University of the Arts where she taught and managed productions in theater, dance and music. She also does professional upholstery for the stage and screen; one of her favorite projects can be seen in the 2018 Grammy Awards.