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Playwright Marcus Gardley and Cutting Ball Theater, along with co-producer Playwrights Foundation, collaborated on the development and premiere of …and Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi, a three-act play with music. Set during the final days of the Civil War, the play used the myth of Demeter-Persephone as a framework and incorporated biblical stories, Greek mythology, sacred stories of the Orisha, African American folklore, historical facts from the Civil War, and the author’s family history. The Cutting Ball Theater and Playwrights Foundation worked with Gardley to workshop and refine the play. Its development was firmly planted in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, where The Cutting Ball Theater is in residence at Exit Theater and where the artists conducted substantial outreach to residents.

Marcus Gardley is an award-winning poet-playwright whose produced plays include dance of the holy ghost at Yale Repertory Theater; (L)imitations of Life and like sun fallin’ in the mouth at the National Black Theatre Festival, and Love is a Dream House in Lorin with Shotgun Players. The Cutting Ball Theater was founded in 1999 with a mission to create productions of new experimental plays, seminal avant-garde works, and re-visioned classics with an emphasis on language and images.

This new play was a critical and box-office success. Marin Independent Journal critic Sam Hurwitt wrote, “When you go to see Marcus Gardley’s …and Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi—which you should—it feels like what you’re witnessing is not just a fascinating new play, but an important one.” Gardley wrote that the play, “superseded my expectations immensely in terms of form, size and mode of presentation” and working with The Cutting Ball was one of the great collaborations of his career.