Genesius Theatre presents Brilliant Traces, a one-act two-character play by Cindy Lou Johnson

Written by Sarah Althen.

In the third production of their robust 2024 season, Genesius Theatre presents Brilliant Traces, a poetic and intimate two-character play.

As the play opens, Henry Harry is hiding from a blizzard, civilization, and, perhaps, himself in a rugged cabin in the backcountry of Alaska. Then, with a wild banging at the door, Rosannah DeLuce – frantic, freezing, and dressed in full bridal regalia – bursts into his sanctuary.

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As the story unravels, so do the characters. Emotions are high, reactions are raw, and the two alternately repel and attract one another. With the deadly storm still raging outside, the two are eventually forced to face what they are running from.

Photo submitted by Genesius Theatre, used with permission by Don Carrick of Studio 413: (front to back) Sarah Althen, as Rosannah DeLuce, and Brandon Reimer, as Henry Harry, in the Genesius Production of Cindy Lou Johnson’s intriguing dramedy, Brilliant Traces opening March 29, 2024.

“Brilliant Traces is a show about love, and how love can be the most beautiful yet devastating emotion we experience. It is about how love shapes our lives and drives how we interact with others and the world around us,” said the show’s director, Gabrielle Lewis. “I think anyone who has experienced love in any form – as a parent, a child, a partner, or a friend – will be moved by this show. I think the audience will be reminded that we can run from our emotions, but in the end, we must face whatever it is that haunts us.”

Lewis has been performing since childhood, but BRILLIANT TRACES marks her directorial debut. “Directing for the first time has been an incredible, eye-opening experience. I feel so lucky to be able to take what I have learned from my many mentors at Genesius and use that to help bring a production to life,” Lewis said.

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Brilliant Traces was first presented to critical acclaim by the Circle Repertory Company at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City on February 5, 1989. It starred Kevin Anderson and Joan Cusack.

In the first pages of the original playbill and the script as published by Dramatists Play Service Inc., there is a poem titled “Individuation:”

If I must be wrung through the paradox, – broken into wholeness, wring me around the moon; pelt me with particles from the dark side. Fling me into space; hide me in a black hole. Let me dance with devils on dead stars. Let my scars leave brilliant traces, for my highborn soul seeks its hell in high places.

The poem was written by Avah Pevlor Johnson, Cindy Lou Johnson’s mother.

“’What happened was that I wrote the play and was seeking a title,” Johnson said to the New York Times in 1989. ”I’ve always loved this particular poem – it’s my favorite poem of my mother’s. And in seeking a title, it came to me that I had written a play about people who were scarred but were trying to make something of value out of their pain. And that, to me, is what the poem is about.”

”To my mind, what this play is about is that we have to connect with other people,” Johnson continued. ”We’re here. We’re not isolated. Through loving, we can grow and heal and change. And as strong as our urge might be to fight it because of the pain it might cause, it’s absolutely imperative that we connect.”

Brandon Reimer and Sarah Althen play the roles of Henry Harry and Rosannah DeLuce at Genesius Theatre. The talented pair was last seen as Wadsworth (the butler) and Yvette (the maid) in Genesius’ October 2023 production of CLUE ON STAGE.

“I imagine Brilliant Traces will surprise audiences,” Reimer said. “It runs the gamut of emotions with little flash and all substance. I hope it sparks a desire to see more plays produced in the future. Genesisus does a wonderful job selecting shows that might not be known to all but the best-read theater buff and, in my experience, audiences have responded well. I’m grateful Genesius has given its performers an opportunity like this to push themselves. It’s a real ‘meat and potatoes’ kind of script. I hope BRILLIANT TRACES is another one of those productions where audiences leave saying, ‘I’d never heard of that one, but I’m happy we got tickets,’” he said.

“The premise of this show is admittedly outlandish: a woman running from her wedding somehow lands on the doorstep of the single most isolated man in the country. There’s a white-out blizzard that forces these two angry, hostile strangers together. It’s absurd,” Althen said.

“But when you really dive into it, everything is steeped in this gorgeous, long-form metaphor. Maybe storms can be good for us; maybe we’re all Rosannah and Henry. There are seven billion people in the world – what brings any of us together, you know? To me, the show suggests that shared pain and trauma can act like magnets that pull us together against the odds. I think our audiences will find solace in that,” she said.

Brilliant Traces is directed by Gabrielle Lewis and stage managed by Sophia Green. Stage combat is by Tommy Heiler; produced and set designed by Lawrence Fecho and built by Randy Hauck; lighting design is by Ollie Wampler of Scary Good Productions; scenic design and props are by Jeffery Jones and James Haggerty.

SHOW DATES AND TIMES: March 29, 30, April 4 at 7:30 p.m.; April 6 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $15-$20. For tickets and additional information, visit genesiusdifference.org

Rated PG-13. While this show is not explicit in language or content, some subject matter may be too dark for younger or more sensitive audiences. There are brief moments of minor staged violence. The production runs 90 minutes with no intermission.

Genesius Theatre is located at 153 N. 10th St., Reading, PA and is handicapped accessible. Free parking is available in a lot adjacent to the building. For more information on parking or accessibility, call the theatre at 610.371.8151 or email info@genesiustheatre.org. Genesius is a 501-C-3 non-profit organization.

Genesius and the DoubleTree have partnered with each other on the Park/Dinner/Shuttle/Show/Shuttle-Program. At any performance, audiences can park for free in the DoubleTree garage, dine at Cheers American Bistro in the DoubleTree prior to the show, then enjoy a complimentary shuttle to and from the show. How it works: Purchase tickets separately on the Genesius website and call the DoubleTree to make reservations (two hours prior to the show time is recommended). You must mention the shuttle upon making a reservation and upon arriving at the restaurant. Then, enjoy a full afternoon or evening of tasty food, delectable drinks, and a wonderful show!

VIRTUAL SHOW PROGRAM In our effort to have less paper waste, cut costs on printing, and reduce our carbon footprint, Genesius now hosts our full playbills in living color on our website at GenesisusDifference.org. Programs are available a week in advance of opening night, and feature cast and creative team bios, photos, ads from our business supporters, Genesius event updates, and additional show information.

ADDITIONAL PARKING If you come to our main parking lot for a performance, and it looks full, pull up and ask the parking attendant for a parking pass to our overflow lot at Walnut and Moss Street. Street parking is also available.

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Berks Weekly
Berks Weekly
Berks Weekly is an independent and locally owned digital newspaper covering the City of Reading and Berks County. Subscribe today: berksweekly.com/subscribe
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