Northlight Theatre, under the direction of Artistic Director BJ Jones and Executive Director Timothy J. Evans, presents an Interplay reading of Mercy, written by Felicia Oduh and directed by Harry Lennix. The virtual reading of Mercy will be presented via livestream on Sunday, December 13 (time TBA)

Catch a glimpse of this new drama while still in the development process. The reading premiere of Mercy will be followed by a live Q&A with the playwright and director. A recording will be available for 96 hours following the premiere. This event is FREE with a suggested donation, but registration is required to receive a viewing link. To sign-up, or for additional details, please visit

This benefit reading is a part of Northlight’s Interplay New Play Development program, providing customized support for new work in the critical stages of early play development.

BJ Jones comments, “We are delighted to collaborate with Harry Lennix once again, this time on Felicia Oduh’s touching play Mercy. Northlight is dedicated to developing new work and new voices and Northwestern graduate Felicia Oduh is a gifted young playwright and actress who has something to say. In the same vein as Selina Fillinger, who wrote the Jeff nominated play Faceless and who also came from Northwestern, we are excited to discover and offer opportunity to fresh voices. And Harry Lennix is a gifted actor and director whose generosity and mentorship is inspiring and selfless. We are grateful for his continued relationship with Northlight and his contribution to our work.”

When Eric was leaving for college, he thought he and his friends had the world at their fingertips—until he was convicted of a crime he did not commit. Now, after 18 years away, Eric is finally home. And his mother is throwing him a party, whether he’s ready to celebrate or not. In Felicia Oduh’s new drama, one man struggles to reclaim the life he lost, while his family attempts to heal an age-old fracture.

Mercy features Shanesia Davis (Virginia), Dizzie Harris (Regina), Shams Eugene Monteiro (Eric), Dwain A. Perry (Julian), Kelsey Scott (Ariel). Stage directions will be read by Liana Runcie.

The artistic and production team includes Felicia Oduh (Playwright), Harry J. Lennix (Director), Sophia Danielle-Grenier (Zoom Coordinator), and Leean Kim Torske (Dramaturg).

The Interplay New Play Development Program is supported in part by The Sullivan Family Foundation.


Felicia Oduh (Playwright) is a Nigerian-American, Chicago-based playwright and actor whose work focuses on Black womanhood, identity formation, and underrepresented narratives across the diaspora. Her works include Mercy and Expecting, which received workshopped readings with Vertigo Productions, and Micro, which received a staged reading with Black Lives, Black Words. As an actor, Felicia has performed in several Northwestern University mainstage productions, and she currently holds a leading role in the new comedic web series How to Love. Felicia is a recent graduate of Northwestern where she studied playwriting, acting for the screen, and majored in theatre.

Harry J. Lennix (Director) is a renowned film, television and stage actor from Chicago’s Southside. He attended Quigley Seminary high school and began his professional acting career while a scholarship student at Northwestern University. He maintained his professional career while teaching fulltime in the Chicago Public Schools.

His prolific career includes films: Man of Steel, Ray (for which he earned a SAG Award nomination), The Matrix sequels, Barbershop 2, Love and Basketball, The Human Stain and State of Play; and television: NBC’s The Blacklist, ABC’s Commander in Chief, the FOX hit series 24, as well as ER, Diagnosis Murder and Dollhouse. Harry has appeared in stage productions across the country, including Northlight Theatre’s Permanent Collection in 2005. In 2001 he was part of the first American company to be invited to the Royal Shakespeare Company, and he made his Broadway debut in 2007 as the central figure in August Wilson’s Radio Golf, which was nominated for a Tony Award.

In addition to his accomplishments as an actor, Harry works to promote social change as evidenced by his founding of Exponent Media Group (EMG), a film production company dedicated to high quality films about the African American experience. Projects include H4, a reimagination of Shakespeare’s Henry IV translated into 21st century urban Los Angeles; Troubled Waters, chronicling the journey of a stand-up comedian inspired by Richard Pryor; and the gospel concert movie Revival. He has generously lent his time and voice to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals PSA campaign and met with many Congressional leaders to advocate for Drug Courts, for which he was the recipient of a 2011 NADCP Ambassador Award. He is a frequent speaker at colleges and universities on the importance of activism and advocacy as an African American actor. A long-standing member of Northlight Theatre’s Advisory Council, Harry also holds board or advisory positions with The Goodman Theatre, Northwestern University, Congo Square Theater, and The Robey Theater (LA).


Since its inception in 2006, Northlight’s Interplay Program has invested in provocative new works by American and international playwrights, providing customized support in the critical stages of early play development.

Through Interplay, Northlight seeks to serve the specific needs of the play and can provide playwright commissions, workshops with actors, and private or public readings. The public reading series is an instrumental part of the Interplay program, providing audiences the opportunity to participate in a part of the evolutionary process from initial idea to full theatrical production, including first-hand insight from the playwright. Also through the reading series, the playwright has the opportunity to hear audience response that is integral to shaping the play for full production.

As of 2020, Interplay has provided support for 40 new plays, 33 of which have gone on to full productions – some at Northlight and others around the country, including the Goodman Theatre, the Humana Festival, TheatreWorks, and off-Broadway. Four plays have continued on to acclaim at Ireland’s famed Galway International Arts Festival.

That staggering success rate has established Interplay as a valuable incubator for new work in the American theatre, and has helped cement Northlight’s national reputation as an important contributor to the American theatrical canon.

Northlight Theatre aspires to promote change of perspective and encourage compassion by exploring the depth of our humanity across a bold spectrum of theatrical experiences, reflecting our community to the world and the world to our community.

Founded in 1974, the organization has mounted over 220 productions, including more than 40 world premieres. Northlight has earned 208 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations and 36 Awards, as well as ten Edgerton Foundation for New Play Awards. As one of the area’s premier theatre companies, Northlight is a regional magnet for critical and professional acclaim, as well as talent of the highest quality.

Northlight is supported in part by generous contributions from Allstate Insurance; the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation; BMO Harris Bank; Bulley and Andrews; The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; ComEd, An Exelon Company; The Davee Foundation; Evanston Arts Council; Evanston Community Foundation; Lloyd A. Fry Foundation; Full Circle Foundation; John R. Halligan Fund; Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; Illinois Humanities; Katten Muchin Roseman LLP; Kirkland & Ellis Foundation; Margaret and Paul Lurie; The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Jackie Mack and More; Colonel Stanley R. McNeil Foundation; Modestus Bauer Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Niles Township; NorthShore University HealthSystems; Northwestern University; The Offield Family Foundation; The Pauls Foundation; PNC Bank; Polsinelli; Ralla Klepak Trust for the Performing Arts; Room & Board; Sanborn Family Foundation; Dr. Scholl Foundation; The Shubert Foundation, Inc.; Skokie Community Foundation; The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust; The Sullivan Family Foundation; and Tom Stringer Design Partners.

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