American Blues set for The Reclamation of Madison Hemings in its new home

Feb 4, 2024
The Reclamation of Madison Hemings at American Blues Theater

American Blues Theater, under the continued leadership of Executive Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside, presents the Chicago premiere of The Reclamation of Madison Hemings, written by Charles Smith and directed by Ensemble Member Chuck Smith. The Reclamation of Madison Hemings will be presented in American Blues Theater's new permanent home, located at 5627 N Lincoln Ave in Chicago, February 16 - March 24, 2024. 

It's 1866, and the Civil War has ended. Madison Hemings, son of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, and Israel Jefferson, formerly enslaved footman, return to Monticello in search of Israel's long-lost brother. Their search gets sidetracked when Madison decides to claim what's left of his birthright as the son of an American president. Together, the two men must face their conflicting feelings about the man who wrote "All men are created equal." Slavery has been abolished, but what has changed? What do we need to keep with us as we move through this world and what should we leave behind?

Executive Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside comments, "Ensemble member Chuck Smith brought this incredible project to us. We immediately connected the poignant themes to our mission. We're thrilled to work with celebrated playwright Charles Smith, and we're honored for the opportunity to premiere this script to Chicago audiences."

The Reclamation of Madison Hemings will play in the new home of American Blues Theater. The new venue, which had its first public performance on December 8, 2023, includes two theaters (137-seat proscenium and 40-seat flexible studio); an inviting lobby with box office, bar, and concessions; gendered and all-gendered restrooms; dressing rooms and greenroom; administrative offices; production spaces for scenery, props, and costumes; a small on-site parking lot with ample street parking.

The cast of The Reclamation of Madison Hemings includes Jon Hudson Odom (Madison Hemings) and Manny Buckley (Israel Jefferson).

The creative team includes Jonathan Berg-Einhorn (scenic/props), Jared Gooding & Rachel West (co-lighting), Lily Walls (costumes), Rick Sims (sound), Warren Levon (associate sound), and Richard Lundy (stage management).