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Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company - Defy convention


by Danai Gurira
directed by Liesl Tommy

featuring Company members Jessica Frances Dukes and Dawn Ursula with Uzo Aduba, Ayesha Ngaujah, and Liz Femi Wilson


August 31 – September 27, 2009

Appropriate for ages 16 and up.
Running Time: 2hrs, 10min (1 intermission)

Click on the 'Additional Information' button for information on the Liberia documentary screening/panel & special discussions.

OverviewWho's whoSchedule and PricesAdditional Info


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About the Show

“The wonder of Danai Gurira's new play is that Eclipsed is neither depressingly bleak nor oppressively sober. It's A SURPRISINGLY VIVACIOUS PORTRAIT of helplessness, of the entirely human impulse to adapt…conveyed with a lovely authority, at times even a whimsicality.  [In this] authentic-feeling production, her tight-knit kinship with these characters comes across as if she shared the stage with them.” – The Washington Post

“A REMARKABLE CAST. A GUT-WRENCHING SAGA TOLD WITH POIGNANCY AND WIT, precisely the kind of niche today's cutting-edge theater strives to fill.  Opens [Woolly’s] 30th anniversary season with the intended jolt to the senses thanks to blunt yet sensitive staging by Liesl Tommy.” – Variety

“Woolly Mammoth's production…is about AS GOOD AS IT GETS. THE ACTING IS ASTONISHING” – Washington Times

“Stirring and sobering, and funnier than you’d expect, Eclipsed [is] a deeply felt portrait of women in extremis, finding and testing their own strength.” – City Paper

THIS KNOCKOUT PRODUCTION IS NOT TO BE MISSED. The design team’s heartfelt collaboration is clear from all angles.”
DC Theatre Scene


“I remain fascinated by this production after a few days.  I URGE YOU TO GO…BRING FRIENDS, TALK ABOUT IT, THINK ABOUT IT.” –


The captive wives of a Liberian rebel officer form a hardscrabble sisterhood, their lives set on a nightmarish detour by civil war.  With the arrival of a new girl who can read – and the return of an old one who can kill – their possibilities are quickly transformed.  Drawing on reserves of wit and compassion, these defiant survivors ask: when the fog of battle lifts, could a different destiny emerge?


Howard Shalwitz"Danai Gurira demonstrated her remarkable talent as both an actor and playwright with In the Continuum, her award-winning hit (created with Nikkole Salter) that came to Woolly Mammoth in 2006. With Eclipsed, Danai steps onto a bigger canvas, painting a vivid portrait of five young Liberian women whose lives are enmeshed in civil war. Woolly is proud to launch this sharp-edged, surprisingly humorous, and emotionally powerful new play -- which makes a universal statement about the impact of war and the resilience of individuals who forge a vision of the future in the face of the cruelest circumstances. Eclipsed will launch Woolly’s 30th season of plays about big topics and pressing conversations about the world we live in."

Howard Shalwitz, Artistic Director

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This World Premiere production of Eclipsed has been honored with a 2009 Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award. For more information, please visit the website of Theatre Communications Group.

(from left to right)Liesl Tommy-director, Howard Shalwitz-artistic director, Danai Gurira-writer

(from left to right)Daniel Ettinger-Set Design, Colin K. Bills-Lighting Design,
Kathleen Geldard-Costume Design

(from left to right)Dawn Ursula-Rita, Liz Femi Wilson-Bessie, Ayesha Ngaujah-Girl,
Danai Gurira-Writer, Uzo Aduba-Helena, Jessica Frances Dukes-Maima

Who's Who


DANAI GURIRA (Playwright) co-created and performed in the award-winning two-woman play In the Continuum, which premiered off-Broadway and toured the U.S. and Southern Africa.  For her work on that production, Danai won a 2006 Obie Award, the 2006 Outer Critics John Gassner Award, and the 2004 Global Tolerance' Award (Friends of the United Nations), in addition to being honored by the Theatre Hall of Fame.  In 2007, she received a Helen Hayes Award for Best Lead Actress in In the Continuum at Woolly Mammoth.  Danai was most recently seen in the acclaimed film The Visitor (with Oscar-nominated actor Richard Jenkins) and on Broadway in Lincoln Center Theater's production of Joe Turner's Come and Gone.  She is the recipient of '08 TCG New Generations travel grant for Eclipsed and has taught playwriting and acting in Liberia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.  She is developing a play about the current situation in Zimbabwe with the Royal Court in London and completing another Zimbabwean piece entitled The Convert.  She received her MFA in acting from NYU.  Danai was born in the U.S. to Zimbabwean parents and raised in Zimbabwe.

LIESL TOMMY (Director) Regional directing: A History of Light by Eisa Davis (World Premiere), Yankee Tavern by Steven Dietz, Stick Fly by Lydia Diamond (Contemporary American Theatre Festival); Eclipsed by Danai Gurira (McCarter Theatre workshop); A Christmas Carol (Trinity Rep); The Good Negro by Tracey Scott Wilson (World Premiere, Dallas Theater Center); In the Continuum by Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter (Playmakers Rep), Angela’s Mixtape by Eisa Davis (World Premiere, Synchronicity Performance Group), Flight by Charlayne Woodard (City Theatre), Hydriotaphia by Tony Kushner and Camino Real (Trinity Rep./Brown Consortium), David Schulner’s Isaac and Ishmael (Chautauqua Theatre Institute), The Good Negro (Sundance Theatre Institute).  New York directing: Angela’s Mixtape by Eisa Davis (World Premiere, New Georges), The Good Negro by Tracey Scott Wilson (World Premiere, Public Theater), Small Tragedy by Craig Lucas and Medea Project (NYU/Strasberg Institute), Split Ends (La MAMA); Bus and Family Ties (Cristian Panaite Play Company) for the Romania. Kiss Me! Festival, Misterioso 119 by Koffi Kwahule (Berkshire Theatre Festival and Act French Festival/Lark Theatre); Adventures of Barrio Grrrl by Quiara Hudes (SPF); and A Stone’s Throw by Lynn Nottage (World Premiere, Women’s Project); Uncle Vanya and Our Lady of 121stStreet (Juilliard).  She was awarded the NEA/TCG Directors Grant, the New York Theatre Workshop Casting/Directing Fellowship, and is a member of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, Lincoln Center Director’s Lab, and is a New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspect.  Liesl has taught directing at Trinity Rep/Brown University’s MFA Directing Program and acting at NYU-Tisch School of the Arts.  She is a native of Cape Town, South Africa.



Ayesha Ngaujah

UZO ADUBA (Helena) was recently seen on Broadway in Coram Boy, in Sheila’s Day at Crossroads Theatre Company, and the MUNY production of Godspell this summer.  She recently played the title role of Dessa Rose for New Rep and received an IRNE nomination for her work.  Uzo is also a Helen Hayes Award nominee for Translations of Xhosa at Olney Theatre Center (also seen at Boston Playwright’s Theatre).  Her other credits include The Seven (New York Theatre Workshop, La Jolla Playhouse), Crowns (Denver Center), Abyssinia(Goodspeed), Romeo & Juliet (Pulse Ensemble), 365 Plays/365 Days (The Public), Godspell (Papermill Playhouse), and the films Notes and Over There.  She has been a featured vocalist at The White House and at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.  Uzo would like to thank God, her family, and friends for their support.


Jessica Francis DukesJESSICA FRANCES DUKES (Maima) was recently seen in Fever/Dream and Antebellum at Woolly Mammoth and Unleashed: The Secret Lives of White House Pets at The Kennedy Center.  Her regional credits include Starving (Woolly Mammoth), The Piano Lesson (Geva Theater/Indiana Rep), Spunk (Tribute Productions/African Continuum Theatre Company; Helen Hayes Award nomination), Jitney (Ford’s Theater/African Continuum Theater), Insurrection: Holding History (Theater Alliance), and other productions at Studio Theatre, Horizon Theater (GA), The Kennedy Center, Theater Alliance, and Washington Stage Guild.  She has a B.S from Frostburg State University and an MFA from Catholic University.  Jessica currently teaches Fundamentals of Acting at Montgomery College and is a Woolly Company Member.


Ayesha NgaujahAYESHA NGAUJAH (Girl) was most recently part of the New George's production of Angela's Mixtape (Ohio Theater, NYC).  Last year she played in the Atlanta premiere of the production with Synchronicity Performance Group.  Her other recent theatre credits include Times 365:24:7 (Bone Orchard Theatre), Van Gogh Café (Synchronicity Performance Group), Stick Fly (True Colors), Go, Dog. Go! (Alliance Theatre), Endgame (PushPush Theater), Steal Away and The Wiz (St. Louis Black Repertory Company).  Internationally she has performed in Diggydotcom 2.0, Made in Da Shade (Amsterdam, Netherlands), and Spring Awakening (Albatheaterhuis, Netherlands). Ayesha is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University, and Laban, London. 


Dawn UrsulaDAWN URSULA, (Rita) a Woolly Company Member, was last seen here in The Unmentionables, as well as The Velvet Sky and Starving.  Other credits include Doubt, Gem of the Ocean, and Yellowman (2005 Greater Baltimore Theatre Award for Outstanding Actress) at Everyman Theatre where she is also a company member, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore and Much Ado...  (Shakespeare Theatre ACA), Taming of the Shrew (Baltimore Shakespeare Festival), Butterfingers Angel… and Anna Lucasta (Rep Stage), Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (ACTCo), Flyin’ West (True Colors), and Shear Madness, Mermaids, Monsters…, and Unleashed…( Kennedy Center).  TV credits include HBO’s The Wire and the PBS documentary Prince Among Slaves.  Other awards include Baltimore City Paper's 2008 “Best Actress” Award and 2005 Best Production (Yellowman).  Dawn received her BA from UVA and her MFA from The Shakespeare Theatre’s Academy for Classical Acting (GWU).  Upcoming productions include Everyman's Two Rooms and Woolly’s Clybourne Park .  Much much love to this incredible team, F & J.


Liz Femi WilsonLIZ FEMI WILSON (Bessie) was most recently seen in Nilaja Sun's No Child… at the Weston Playhouse.  She performed in the World Premiere of Chuck Mee and Stephen Greenblatt’s Cardenio, The Island of Anyplace (American Repertory Theatre), Trigger and Phoenician Women (A.R.T. Institute), and Hamlet and Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom (Todd Theater).  She has an MFA from the ART/MXAT Institute of Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University.  

The production team includes Daniel Ettinger (Set Designer), Colin K. Bills (Lighting Designer), Kathleen Geldard (Costume Designer), Veronika Vorel (Sound Designer), Jennifer Sheetz (Properties), Tonya Beckman Ross (Dialect Coach).



Wednesday through Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 2pm and 7pm
(no 2pm performance Sept. 6), plus one Tuesday 8pm show on Sept. 15.

Pay-What-You-Can performances: Mon, August 31 & Tues, September 1 at 8pm.
Tickets sold at 6:30pm each evening, two per person, cash/check only.  Lines begin forming between 5-5:30pm. Performances typically sell out.

For a complete schedule of post-show discussions, please click the 'Additional Information' tab.


Previews, 1st week: Wednesday and Thursday 8pm - $37 & $27;
Saturday 8pm - $56 & $46.

Regular price: Tuesday-Thursday 8pm and Sunday 7pm - $50 & $40; Friday 8pm and Sunday 2pm - $57 & $47; Saturday 8pm - $62 & $52.


Click here for exact dates and prices...



Click here to read the Washington Post Weekend feature on Eclipsed.

To hear the NPR interview with Danai Gurira, Click Here.

CRACK IT OPEN – Eclipsed Special Events

Eclipsed exposes how much an individual may sacrifice in order to survive wartime atrocities.  The ways these characters respond to trauma and empower themselves can be seen in conflict zones around the world.  In conjunction with the World Premiere of Dania Gurira’s Eclipsed and the UN’s International Day of Peace, Woolly Mammoth has partnered with several DC-based organizations working to expose harsh truths and empower women to promote global human rights with the following events.


Aug. 24 Pray the Devil Back to Hell Screening Panel
(from left to right) Patricia T. Morris, Piper Hendricks, Rebecca Besant,
Francisca Vigaud-Walsh, and Barry Hart

Liberia Documentary Screening & Panel Discussion


Pray the Devil Back to Hell poster



On Tues., Sept. 8 at 7pm, Woolly Mammoth will co-host a second screening of the acclaimed documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell with a panel discussion to follow.  Community Partner co-host organizations include the World Organization for Human Rights USA, InterAction, and Peace X Peace.

At Woolly Mammoth (D Street, NW, betw. 6th & 7th).  The screening and panel are FREE, but due to limited seating, reservations are encouraged at

PANEL: Piper Hendricks (Moderator), Int'l. Justice Project Dir, Human Rights USA (Moderator); Dr. Patricia Morris, Executive Director of Peace X Peace, a nonprofit Global Network connecting women through the internet to promote sustainable peace; Ben Flowers, former Chief Advisor to the Sub-Committee on the Religious and Ethnic Dimensions of the Conflict and Peacebuilding for the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and currently is Domestic Policy Advisor for RESULTS, a DC based grassroots non-profit.

Named Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival, Pray the Devil Back to Hell is the gripping account of a group of brave and visionary women who demanded peace for Liberia, a nation torn to shreds by a decades-old civil war.  The women's historic yet unsung achievement finds voice in a narrative that intersperses contemporary interviews, archival images, and scenes of present-day Liberia together to recount the experiences and memories of the women who were instrumental in bringing lasting peace to their country.

Post-Show Discussions (Free; tickets required to attend performance)

● MEET-THE-PLAYWRIGHT: Fri., September 4, following the 8pm performance.  Discussion with Danai Gurira, moderated by Miriam Weisfeld, Dir. of New Play Development.

● FROM LIBERIA TO BELARUS: THEATRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: Wed., September 9, following the 8pm performance.
With Dr. Maya Roth, from the Georgetown University Theater and Performance Studies Program, Hugo Medrano, the Producing Artistic Director of GALA Hispanic Theatre, and other guests from Georgetown University’s collaboration with the Belarus Free Theatre (presenting Discover Love and Generation Jeans at Georgetown’s Davis Performing Arts Center on September 15-16:

● MEET-THE-ARTISTS: Sun., September 13, following the 2pm performance.
Discussion with members of the cast, moderated by Miriam Weisfeld, Dir. of New Play Development.

● WOMEN IN CONFLICT ZONES: Thurs., September 17, following the 8pm performance.
With Dr. Patricia Morris, Executive Director of Peace X Peace, the nonprofit Global Network where women connect through the internet to promote sustainable peace, and other guests to be announced.


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Dawn Ursula and Jessica Frances Dukes


Danai Gurira in In the Continuum (2006).

Woolly Mammoth would like to thank the following patrons for their generous support of Eclipsed:

Kenneth W. Crow & Basil Halabi
Joseph Dunne & Elena Grigorieva
Edgerton Foundation
Elizabeth & Paul L. Friedman
Karl K. & Carrol Brenner Kindel
Karen Lefkowitz & Allen Neyman
Carl E. and Undine Nash
David & Peggy Shiffrin
Grant P. & Sharon R. Thompson


Show Art Concept & Design:
Carolyn Sewell Design