Blood at the Root
by Dominique Morisseau
Directed and Choreographed by Darryl V. Jones
A striking new ensemble drama inspired by the Jena 6. Six Black students are initially charged with attempted murder for a school fight after being provoked with nooses hanging from a tree on campus. This bold new play by Dominique Morisseau (Ain’t Too Proud, Skeleton Crew) examines the miscarriage of justice, racial double standards, and the crises in relations between men and women of all classes.
From the award-winning playwright of Ain’t Too Proud, Skeleton Crew, and Detroit ’67
- Ian Brady (COLIN)
- Satania Gidney (ASHA)
- Leon Jones (DEANDRE/ Assistant Director)
- Elle Roe (RAYLYNN)
- Keliʻi Salvador (JUSTIN)
- Jillian Smith (TORIA)
- Darryl V. Jones: (Director/ Choreographer)
- Dominique Morisseau: (Playwright)
- April Ballesteros: (Stage Manager)
- Tiersa Nureyev: (Costume Designer)
- Brittany Mellerson: (Lighting Designer)
- David Juarez (Scenic Designer)
- Adam Hughes (Composer and Sound Designer)
- Desiree Galvez (Properties & Projection Designer)
Ian Brady (COLIN)
Ian Brady (He/Him) is a fairly recent transplant to the Bay Area from Pennsylvania, where he grew up working in theatre and eventually in organizing and advocacy. Ian believes in the power of conversations that texts like Blood at the Root are capable of beginning and insists that we make action of these discussions. In addition to his work organizing and representing campaign workers with the Campaign Workers Guild, Ian was recently seen in Today I Live (3Girls Theatre) and Macbeth (Berkeley Shakes). Go out and do something about the racism, homophobia, and classism in your backyard.
Satania Gidney (ASHA)
Satania Gidney has previously performed in shows such as Precious Little, Hairspray!, The Vagina Monologues, Mary’s Wedding, The Maids, Machinal, and Nine! She has over 15 years of experience performing, and received her B.A. in Theater in with an emphasis in Acting in 2018. Satania is passionate about exploring complex political and social themes through theater; her goal is to use art to foster important and difficult conversations. She has previously collaborated with other Bay Area artist to create new works ranging from topics on housing displacement and gentrification, queer identity, and generational trauma. Satania thanks her amazing castmates for being willing to dive headfirst into this beautiful but difficult text; her director, Darryl V. Jones, for the opportunity and guidance he offered to all of us; and her tech team including the stage manager, April Ballesteros, and the producers at Custom Made Theater Co. for supporting all of us in this journey!
Leon Jones (DEANDRE/ ASSISTANT DIRECTOR)
Leon Jones is so pleased to be making his CustomMade Theatre Company debut in the role of De’Andre in their production of Blood at the Root. He also played a part in the production aspects in the role of Assistant Director. Leon is committed to creating space for other BlPOC/LGBTQIA+ artists on stage and screen. He began his professional career playing Macduff’s Child in Berkeley Rep’s production of Macbeth starring Frances McDormand and Conleth Hill. Recent acting credits include Jayden in The Great Khan at the San Francisco Playhouse, Young Man in Begin the Beguine at Oakland Theatre Project, and Marcellus in Music Man at Throckmorton Theatre.
Elle Roe (RAYLYNN)
Elle Roe is thrilled to be working on her first production with Custom Made Theatre in a powerfully engaging story that inspires conscious conversation. The second of four kids, Elle found an escape in creating an imaginary world and playing pretend at a young age. She went on to star in several productions during her high school years. From then on, she decided to pursue a career of telling stories and entertaining others. Elle looks forward to starring in a thriller filming this fall and she is currently working towards her BA in Media Studies at USF.
Keliʻi Salvador (JUSTIN)
He is a BIPOC actor, singer, dancer, and playwright based in the Bay Area. When he turned 9, he started acting with his mother and thatʻs when he decided this is something he wanted to pursue as a career. He and his mother still work together to this day. When heʻs not on the stage, he likes to show off some of his other skills including sound design and videography. Recent credits include Gritty City’s Glass Closet written by Keliʻi Salvador, and Marin Shakespeareʻs Hamlet. He is thrilled for his first show with Custom Made!
Jillian Smith (TORIA)
Jillian Smith is thrilled to be making her Custom Made Theatre debut with Blood at the Root. She is a recent graduate of UC Berkeley, where she studied Theatre, Dance, and Computer Science. Recent credits include Millie in All Together Now (Palo Alto Players), Calista in Anonymous (South Bay Musical Theatre), Jamie in The Last Five Years (Barestage Productions), and Cassie in A Chorus Line (Barestage Productions). She can’t wait to share this powerful story with you, and hopes you enjoy the show! Love and gratitude to this outstanding cast & crew, her family, and her friends for their immeasurable support!
Darryl V. Jones:
Director/ Choreographer/ Vocal Musical Arrangements
Darryl V. Jones is Professor of Theatre at Cal State East Bay and for the last 6 years was adjunct faculty in ACT’s MFA Acting Program. He also served as the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Acting Artistic Director, for two years. Jones is proud to announce that playwright Dominique Morisseau was a student of his at the University of Michigan and he is delighted to be working on one of her plays once again. In the fall of 2022 he will direct and perform in the world premiere of HALIE a musical revue based on the life of Mahalia Jackson for LHT. Recent directing credits include: The Great Kahn, SF Playhouse; The Devil’s Music The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith, Center Rep; and the Shotgun Players production of Kill Move Paradise in collaboration with LHT. For Aurora Theatre Co. he directed Detroit 67 and their BACC Award winning production of The Royale. Other directing credits include: Off Broadway/National Tour We Are Your Sisters (AUDELCO Award Outstanding Production), A View From The Bridge (Theatre Lobby Award Outstanding Direction) and Spunk (Helen Hayes Award Nominee), The Minneola Twins (Woolly Mammoth Theatre Co.) and The Brothers Size (Theatre Rhino). West Coast directing premieres include: Follow Me to Nellie’s by Dominique Morisseau and Xtigone by Nambi Kelley. Jones was Directing Associate at Arena Stage where he co-produced the new play program and choreographed Candide and Dance of Death. He is an active member of Actors Equity Association and was featured in the Word4Word production of The Rime of The Ancient Mariner. In 2017 he received a TBA Award nomination for outstanding supporting actor in Theatre Rhino’s original production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Jones holds a Bachelor of Music, Vocal Performance from The Catholic University of America, and an MFA in Directing from Boston University.
Dominique Morisseau is the author of The Detroit Project (A 3-Play Cycle) which includes the following plays: Skeleton Crew (Atlantic Theater Company), Paradise Blue (Signature Theatre), and Detroit ’67 (Public Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem and NBT). Additional plays include: Pipeline (Lincoln Center Theatre), Sunset Baby (LAByrinth Theatre); Blood at the Root (National Black Theatre) and Follow Me To Nellie’s (Premiere Stages). She is also the TONY nominated book writer on the new Broadway musical Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations (Imperial Theatre). Dominique is alumna of The Public Theater Emerging Writer’s Group, Women’s Project Lab, and Lark Playwrights Workshop and has developed work at Sundance Lab, Williamstown Theatre Festival and Eugene O’Neil Playwrights Conference. She most recently served as Co-Producer on the Showtime series “Shameless” (3 seasons). Additional awards include: Spirit of Detroit Award, PoNY Fellowship, Sky-Cooper Prize, TEER Trailblazer Award, Steinberg Playwright Award, Audelco Awards, NBFT August Wilson Playwriting Award, Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama, OBIE Award (2), Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship, Variety’s Women of Impact for 2017-18, and a recent MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow.
April Ballesteros: (Stage Manager)
April Ballesteros is an actor, director, theatre educator, stage manager, and properties designer as well as Associate Artistic Director at Theatre Cultura and Artistic Learning Programs Manager at the California Shakespeare Theater. She has worked with San Francisco Playhouse, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, SFBATCO, Theatre Cultura, and the Latinx Mafia Theater Collective, where she is a member. April recently stage managed I,Too, Sing America for the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company and starred in the live production of Velorio for Latinx Mafia. With every project, April hopes to empower and uplift BIPOC voices. She earned a BA in Theatre Arts from California State University, East Bay and is a proud Chicanx from East Los Angeles.
Tiersa Nureyev (Costume Designer)
Ms. Nureyev has created costumes for film, musical theater, dance, and performance art. She is the co-founder of the collaborative design studio Stella Fluorescent, which creates sustainably designed fashion, textiles and jewelry. Ms. Nureyev believes strongly that art and making is an integral part of the human experience. This conviction touches all aspects of her work; as a teaching artist with students within the SF School District, to summer programs with youth that probe deeply into the nature of fashion as art form and identity, to collaborating with artists currently residing in San Quentin Prison.
Brittany Mellerson: (Lighting Designer)
BRITTANY MELLERSON (Lighting & Sound Designer) is an East coast native and graduate of Point Park University’s Conservatory Program, with a BFA in Theatrical Lighting & Sound Design. Brittany is the Resident Lighting Designer for Lamplighters Music Theatre, SF PlayGround, and the Telluride Film Festival. Recent credits include lighting design for PlayGround’s Solofest 2022, Awesome Theatre’s feature film THEM, lighting and sound design for The Pear’s Mountaintop and Sunset Baby. Throughout the pandemic, Brittany has been dedicated to source and produce equitable employment avenues within the Bay Area for Black designers and technicians. Up Next: Lamplighter’s Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder; Custom Made’s Blood at the Root; Awesome Theatre’s Coffee Lady; PlayGround’s Best of PlayGround Festival.
David Juarez (Scenic Designer)
David grew up in Hayward, CA and graduated with a BA in Theatre Arts from California State University East Bay in the Summer of 2021 with a concentration in Theater Technology & Design. At CSUEB, he spent most of his time in the theatre as a stagehand and a carpenter but also did Lighting Design. He would like to give a special thanks to family and friends who have supported him in this project.
Adam Hughes (Composer and Sound Designer)
Adam Hughes is an Oakland based Composer and Instrumentalist with a BA in Music Composition received from Cal State East Bay (and an MA on the way!). He composes and performs regularly with Lil’ Elephant and The Straight Ups – two East Bay Indie rock bands, and collaborates frequently with Afro-Fusion artist Piwai. When not visible on stage, he has performed in the Pit Orchestra for Musical Theater performances of The Wedding Singer, Hairspray, and The Ramayana – a thousand year old tale of good and evil – and filled in as a touring/studio musician with East Bay faves Fantastic Negrito, Natasha Blume, Tofu Jack, and Citizen 5. When not on stage, he likes to “Get weird in the studio and see what happens”.
Desiree Galvez (Properties & Projection Designer)
Desiree Galvez (she/they) is an artist from the Bay Area. They specialize in videography, film for dance, and lighting design. Desiree is excited and grateful to be part of the team doing this live production of Blood at the Root 2022! She would like to thank everyone for their support and belief in this process.