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The Blood Quilt

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The Blood Quilt

Inaugural resident playwright Katori Hall (The Mountaintop) is once again “fearlessly redefining theater” (Washington Post) with this funny and fierce world premiere. Welcome to the Jernigan Gals’ Quilting Corner. Gathering at their childhood island home off the coast of Georgia, four disconnected sisters meet to create a family quilt to honor their recently deceased mother. When their reunion turns into a reading of their mother’s will, everyone must grapple with a troubling inheritance. Stitched with history and ritual, laughter and tears, will their “blood quilt” bind the family together or tear them apart forever?

Katori Hall


“Most of the time, when I’m writing, I’m writing for myself. I’m thinking, ‘What will my character say at this time? What will come out of her mouth?’ I create individuals so real to me, I sometimes start talking to them. Then I let them loose on the page.”– Katori Hall

The Blood Quilt is generously sponsored by NEA ART WORKS and is the recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award.

Additional Support is provided by the David Bruce Smith Foundation.


Afi BijouAFI BIJOU (Zambia) was last seen at Arena Stage in Gilbert McCauley's version of Holiday Heart, where she received a Helen Hayes Award Nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress. Since then she has performed regionally at Yale Rep (Good Goods, Crumbs from the Table of Joy), MTC (Breath Boom) and the Ahmanson Theatre (Fela! tour). Other Off-Broadway appearances include New World Stages (Bullet for Adolf) and Playwrights Horizons (Taking Control). In the spring of 2014 she was blessed to return to Broadway at the Palace Theatre in Holler If Ya Hear Me. Her Broadway credits also include the Tony Award-winning Fela! and Once on This Island (original cast member). This fall she will appear on the new HBO miniseries Crime starring John Turturro and Michael K. Williams.

Caroline ClayCAROLINE CLAY (Gio)’s D.C. appearances include Clementine in the Lower Nine and Gidion’s Knot (2015 Helen Hayes Nominee for Best Actress in a Play) with Forum/Next Stop Theatre, the national tour of Doubt (Helen Hayes Award for Best Featured Actress) and productions at Woolly Mammoth and Shakespeare Theatre. Her Broadway credits include Doubt and The Royal Family. She has been seen Off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop, Signature and Playwrights Horizons. Regionally she has performed with Yale Rep, McCarter, Long Wharf and Goodman. Her TV credits include Law & Order, Law & Order SVU, House of Cards (seasons 2 & 3) and The Knick. Her film credits include Everybody’s Fine, Sherrybaby and Morning Glory. Caroline is a native Washingtonian and a graduate of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and UMD (MFA, Specialization in Voice & Dialect ’13). She is proudly on the faculty at both.

Meeya DavisMEEYA DAVIS (Amber) is from Detroit, MI and is thrilled to make her Arena Stage debut. Her credits include Twelfth Night (Shakespeare's Globe Theater), House for Sale (Rutgers Theater Company) and Cyrano (Mile Square Theater). Ms. Davis holds a BFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.

Nikiya MathisNIKIYA MATHIS (Cassan)’s heart is filled with gratitude and excitement as she makes her Arena Stage debut! Her Off-Broadway credits include In the Red and Brown Water, Marcus or the Secret of Sweet and Fidelis (The Public Theater); Milk Like Sugar (Playwright's Horizons) and Seed (Classical Theater of Harlem). Her regional credits include By the Way Meet Vera Stark (Alliance Theater); The Mountaintop (Milwaukee Repertory Theater); Intimate Apparel (Two Rivers Theater); EclipsedThe Brother Sister Plays and A Christmas Carol (McCarter Theatre); Milk Like Sugar (La Jolla Playhouse) and  Romeo and Juliet  (Villa La Pietra, Florence Italy). Her television credits include Elementary (CBS), Person of Interest (CBS), Madam Secretary (CBS), and Crime (HBO). Her film credits include Compliance (dir. Craig Zobel) and Knucklehead (dir. Ben Bowman). Nikiya is a proud graduate of Temple University and NYU's Graduate Acting Program.

Tonye-patanoTONYE PATANO (Clementine) is thrilled to make her Arena Stage debut. Tonye appeared on Broadway in Neil Simon’s 45 Seconds from Broadway. Recent Off-Broadway and regional credits include Father Comes Home from the Wars (The Public & ART) and The Last Goodbye (Old Globe). Tonye starred in the national tour of Legends (The National Theatre) and the award-winning play Ruined as Mama Nadi (recognized by multiple critics Associations for Best Lead Actress). Her film work includes roles in Diving Normal, Ponies, The Hurricane, The Savages, Little Manhattan, The Taking of Pelham 123, Company Men, Every Secret Thing, Time Out of Mind and the upcoming Jack of the Red Hearts. Her TV credits include recurring and guest star roles on One Life to Live, Sex and the City, Eli Stone, Monk, Law & Order: SVU, The Americans and most notably as series regular Heylia James on Showtime’s critically acclaimed Weeds.


KATORI HALL (Playwright) is a writer-performer hailing from Memphis, Tennessee. Hall’s plays include The Mountaintop (2010 Olivier Award for Best New Play), which ran on Broadway in 2011 starring Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson, Hurt Village (2011 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize), Children of Killers, Hoodoo Love, Saturday Night/Sunday Morning, WHADDABLOODCLOT!!!, Our Lady of Kibeho, Pussy Valley and The Blood Quilt. She is an inaugural resident playwright through Arena Stage’s American Voices New Play Institute. Her additional awards include the Lark Play Development Center Playwrights of New York (PoNY) Fellowship, Fellowship of Southern Writers Bryan Family Award in Drama, Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award and Columbia University John Jay Award for Distinguished Professional Achievement. She was a participant of the Sundance Screenwriters’ Lab, where her play Hurt Village was developed into a film, and also Sundance’s inaugural Episodic Story Lab, where she developed her television show The Dial. Katori is currently developing Stephen L. Carter’s number one national best-seller The Emperor of Ocean Park into a television series for John Wells Productions. The Mountaintop and Katori Hall: Plays One are published by Methuen Drama. Katori is an alumna of the Lark Playwrights’ Workshop, where she developed The Mountaintop and Our Lady of Kibeho, and a graduate of Columbia University, the American Repertory Theater Institute at Harvard University and the Juilliard School. She is a proud member of the Ron Brown Scholar Program, the Coca-Cola Scholar Program, the Dramatists Guild and the Fellowship of Southern Writers. She is currently a member of the Residency Five at Signature Theatre in New York City. Katori will make her directing debut this fall with a film adaptation of Hurt Village, which received its world premiere at Signature in 2012.

KAMILAH FORBES (Director)’s Broadway credits as associate director include Holler if Ya Hear Me, A Raisin in the Sun, Lucky Guy, Stick Fly, The Mountaintop and Def Poetry Jam (tour). Recent directing credits include Sunset Baby (Labyrinth), Circle Unbroken (651 Arts), Sweet Billy and the Zooloos (Summer Stage) and Tribute to Marvin Gaye (Kennedy Center). Other credits include Lincoln Center Theater, Public Theater, Lark Play Development Center, Arena Stage and Artistic Director of Hip-Hop Theater Festival. TV credits include producer for HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and executive producer of HBO’s Brave New Voices. Kamilah is a graduate of Howard University.

DEDE AYITE (Costume Designer) is thrilled to be back at Arena Stage. Dede recently designed Five Guys Named Moe at Arena Stage in a co-production with Cleveland Playhouse. Upcoming productions include Toast by Lemon Anderson at The Public Theatre. Her select design credits include Marie Antoinette (Steppenwolf Theatre), Stagger Lee (Dallas Theatre Center); brownsville song (b-side for tray) (Lincoln Center LCT3); The Urban Retreat and Manahatta (The Public), Raisin in the Sun (CalShakes Theater), The Music Man in Concert (Two Rivers, NJPAC), Kurt Metzger (Comedy Central), Adoration of the Old Woman (Intar), Woyzeck (UM,Amherst), Look Upon Our Lowliness (TMTC), Fox Shortcoms (FOX Network), COPPER Project (Improv Everywhere/BBC America), Last Laugh (soloNOVA Festival), Hollow Roots (The Public), Mary Stuart (NYU), Holding it Down (Harlem Stage), Vassa (Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute), Illmatic (Urban Stages), The Piano Lesson (Yale Repertory Theatre), Smile Orange (Trinidad) and American Schemes (Summer Stage, NYC). She received her MFA from the Yale School of Drama.

MICHAEL GILLIAM (Lighting Designer)’s Broadway credits include Bonnie and Clyde, Brooklyn, Big River and Stand-Up Tragedy. West End credits include Gershwin Alone, and Off-Broadway credits include The Best is Yet to Come, Striking 12, Blue, End of the World Party, Zooman and the Sign and Menopause the Musical. National tour credits include Looped, Peter Pan, Brooklyn, Guys and Dolls and Big River. His work has been seen in many of the countries regional theaters including Arena Stage, The Alley Theatre, The Globe Theatres, Mark Taper Forum, The La Jolla Playhouse, Seattle Repertory, The Goodman Theatre, The Guthrie Theater, The Pasadena Playhouse, The Geffen Playhouse, The Kennedy Center, Ford’s Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, The Prince Music Theatre, Denver Center and Arizona Theatre Company. His awards include Los Angeles Ovation Awards, Dramalogue Awards, Garland Awards, San Diego Critics’ Circle Awards and the 1999 Career Achievement Award from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.

MICHAEL CARNAHAN (Scenic Designer)’s credits include A Christmas Story The Musical (first national tour); Off-Broadway’s The Happiest Song Plays Last (Second Stage); The Piano Lesson (Signature Theatre); The First Breeze of Summer (Signature Theatre); Life Could Be A Dream; The Marvelous Wonderettes; Three Mo’ Tenors; Pygmalion; Howie the Rookie; and Brando. Regionalcredits include American Conservatory Theater, McCarter Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Pasadena Playhouse, Two River Theatre, Cleveland Play House, Laguna Playhouse, Utah Shakespearean Festival, Northlight Theatre, Signature Theatre (Arlington, VA), Bucks County Playhouse, Ogunquit Playhouse, Arsht Center, Musical Theatre West, San Jose Repertory and Center Rep. Broadway credits (associate scenic designer) include Allegiance, The River, Peter and The Starcatcher, ANN: The Ann Richards Play, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Importance of Being Earnest, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, All About Me, White Christmas and Curtains.

TOSHI REAGON (Composer/Vocal Consultant) lives in Brooklyn, but was raised in Washington D.C. She loves a good collaboration and considers it the source of her beautiful long career in music. Toshi has several musical and theatrical projects to her credit. She is currently touring The Blues Project with Dorrance Dance, led by the world renowned tap dancer Michelle Dorrance. Toshi is developing an opera based on the Octavia E. Butler novel Parable of the Sower. Toshi is the curator for The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Women's Jazz Festival. In 2011, she founded "WORD*ROCK*& SWORD: A FESTIVAL EXPLORATION OF WOMEN'S LIVES-All Are Welcome." Toshi has several recordings to her name, including her latest release "There and Back Again."

GEOFF JOSSELSON (New York Casting) returns to Arena Stage after having cast acclaimed productions of The Velocity of Autumn, Camp David, Shoplifters, Fiddler on the Roof and King Hedley II. New York productions include The Velocity of Autumn on Broadway,Yank!, Enter Laughing, Southern Comfort, Altar Boyz, Septimus and Clarissa, Perfect Harmony, John and Jen and Pretty Filthy. He has cast productions for the York Theatre Company, Bay Street Theatre, Barrington Stage, Denver Center, North Shore Music Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Kansas City Starlight Theatre and Sharon Playhouse. In addition to his independent casting office, Geoff teaches master classes around the country and is on faculty at CAP21.

KURT HALL (Stage Manager)’s favorite Arena credits include Baskerville, Our War, The Shoplifters, Smokey Joe’s Café, Mother Courage and Her Children starring Kathleen Turner; Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life; Good People; Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins starring Kathleen Turner; The Normal Heart; Red; Ruined; every tongue confess starring Phylicia Rashad; Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies; Looped starring Valerie Harper; Next to Normal starring Alice Ripley; Awake and Sing! and The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?. Other regional credits at the Kennedy Center, Roundabout Theatre Company, McCarter Theatre Center, Shakespeare Theatre Company and Signature Theatre. Thanks to his family for all their support.

KRISTEN MARY HARRIS (Assistant Stage Manager) is thrilled to be returning to Arena Stage. Favorite Arena credits include The Normal Heart, Red, Mother Courage, Fiddler on the Roof and Oklahoma! (Helen Hayes Award). Additional Washington, D.C. credits include Kid Victory (world premiere), The Three Penny Opera, Miss Saigon and Crossing (world premiere)at Signature Theatre and A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre. Kristen holds a BFA in Theatre Production from University of Arizona and is a proud Actors’ Equity Association member.


The Blood Quilt – What's the Buzz

It's time to stitch this family together and create something beautiful again. It's time for The Blood Quilt.

Behind the Curtain – The Blood Quilt

Peek into the fearless and fun rehearsal process for Katori Hall's world premiere.

Right from the Playwright – The Blood Quilt

Award-winning playwright Katori Hall (The Mountaintop) is ready to warm your heart, make you laugh and make you cry with her latest play.

Photo Gallery


Thursday, May 7, 2015
Join honorary chair, Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad, event chair, Arena Stage Board member, Shawna Watley and the Arena Stage artistic team for the world premiere of The Blood Quilt by Katori Hall. Before the show, guests will enjoy a VIP cocktail reception and 3-course seated dinner… Learn more

Post-Show Discussions

May 5 at noon
May 6 at noon
May 13 at noon
May 14 at 8:00 p.m.
May 26 at 7:30 p.m.

Behind the scenes

Welcome to Off Book – Arena Stage’s online forum featuring American artists at the top of their game, talking about what they do best. Actors, directors, writers, dramaturgs, designers – unscripted and unrehearsed.

“Most of my plays are inspired by historical events; a real story that I want to dramatize, but this comes from a deeply personal place. The secrets that are revealed in the play are not my secrets or my family’s, but it’s inspired by a lot of the drama that my family members have dealt with. People ask me who I am in the play and I say ‘I’m Amber–and I’m Gio and Clementine and Zambia. I’m all of them.’” Read More

The Blood Quilt features five extraordinary actresses–Afi Bijou, Caroline Clay, Meeya Davis, Nikiya Mathis and Tonye Patano. During previews the ladies talked about their own family traditions and what it has been like to be part of such a powerful play. Read More

When you have a play that deals with generations of women who tell their stories through their art created by fine hand craftsmanship you have to create a set that reflects that. I felt a real connection to the Jernigan woman because I spend my days using my hands building models that tell a visual story. I felt the set needed a real hand quality to it, that every piece had been touched, worn, and cared for like a quilt. Layering the pieces in came naturally on this play. Read More

One of our inaugural Resident Playwrights, Katori Hall has been with us since we launched the program in 2011. Giving a play–and playwright–time to investigate and explore their work is at the heart of the new play process at Arena Stage. In 2013 we had a workshop of some scripts Katori was working on, including The Blood Quilt. By the end of the workshop, she had a draft of act one and some scenes of act two, which have evolved over the last two years into the powerful play now on stage. Read More


Audio Described

May 9, 2015 – 2:00pm
May 31, 2015 – 2:00pm

Open Captioned

May 21, 2015 – 8:00pm
May 27, 2015 – 7:30pm

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