Photo by Jim Carmody

Performance Lab

Keith A. Wallace—The Bitter Game

Friday, January 27, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, January 28, 8:00 p.m.

About the Program

Step onto the basketball court with this one-man show praised by the New York Times as “high-impact ... a sharp reminder of the persuasive powers of live theater.” Originally developed for La Jolla Playhouse’s Without Walls Festival, The Bitter Game comes to the Skirball following its much-talked-about run at the Under the Radar Festival.

With its five acts structured as the four quarters and overtime of a basketball game, The Bitter Game explores the experience of being Black in America through the relationship between a young man and his mother. Based on the playwright-actor Keith A. Wallace’s youth in Philadelphia, this multi-character performance tackles issues ranging from police violence, to coping with trauma, to the value of Black lives.

Stick around after the show! Following the performance on January 27, artist and educator Khanisha Foster will lead the audience in a reflection. Following the performance on January 28, Andrew Horwitz (Skirball Director of Programs) will moderate a thought-leaders panel with Shamell Bell (one of the founders of Black Lives Matter in Los Angeles) and Jody D. Armour (Roy P. Crocker Professor of Law at USC). A Q&A will follow the panel.

Show details

About the Creative Team

Keith A. Wallace, creator, playwright, and performer
Keith A. Wallace is a playwright, actor, filmmaker, and self-proclaimed “actorvist” who has written, performed, and directed for both stage and film. A Philadelphia native, he has an equal passion for artistic expression and community engagement and advocacy. His acting credits include Junk, Blueprints to Freedom, Dance of the Holy Ghosts, Hoodoo Love, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Comedy of Errors, Hairspray, Passing Strange, and The Tempest. He also directed The Brothers Size (which won Outstanding Production and Outstanding Ensemble at the Theater Bay Area Awards) and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. After premiering at the Without Walls Festival in 2015, Wallace’s production of The Bitter Game became a semi-finalist in the 2016 Sundance Theater Lab, the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference, and the New Dramatist Van Lier Playwrights Fellowship. Wallace is also a recipient of the 2016 Princess Grace Theater Award. He earned his MFA at the University of California, San Diego, and his BA in drama at Morehouse College. He also received training at the British American Drama Academy in London and the Classical Acting Academy in Philadelphia.

Deborah Stein, co-creator and director
Deborah Stein is a playwright, director, teacher, and co-artistic director of Stein | Holum Projects (SHP), with whom she has written and co-directed The Wholehearted (Center Theatre Group, December 2016; ArtsEmerson; 2015 National Theatre Project award from the NEFA) and Chimera (Under the Radar 2012; HERE Artist Residency Project; Drama Desk Award nomination; UK premiere at the Gate in London). SHP has presented and developed work at Z Space, Berkeley Rep, New Dramatists, ArtsEmerson, Playwrights Horizons/Clubbed Thumb Superlab, LMCC, New Georges, Kelly Strayhorn, Philadelphia FringeArts, and Perry Mansfield, as well as at colleges and universities across the country. Stein has received the NYSCA, the Bush Artist Fellowship, two Jerome Fellowships, and a McKnight Advancement Grant from the Playwrights’ Center, and is a proud alumna of New Dramatists. She currently teaches Playwriting at UCSD, where she developed Keith Wallace’s The Bitter Game for the La Jolla Playhouse Without Walls Festival.

Malika Oyetimein, assistant director 

Kamra A. Jacobs, production stage manager 

Plato Seto, stage manager

Charlie Jicha, set designer

Mikaal Sulaiman, sound designer

Brandon H. Rosen, lighting designer

Melissa Ng, costume designer

Walter Myrick, costume art director