Harlem Duet

By Djanet Sears

A Rhapsodic Blues Tragedy

March 19 – April 18, 2021
Streaming on-demand

Directed by Kandace Crystal

In what could be a prelude to Shakespeare’s Othello, Djanet Sears’s Harlem Duet recounts the story of Othello and his first wife, Billie (before Desdemona). Their history is told through the lives of three couples during eras of special significance in the Black American Experience.

Set in contemporary Harlem at the corner of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X Boulevards, the tale tows the line of racial identity, sexual politics, and mental illness in the black community. Sears’ script diffuses the action through three timelines: the 1860s, 1928 and the present.

It’s a weighty play, and one that leaves us with no easy answers.

Harlem Duet received Canada’s highest literary honor for dramatic writing, the Governor General’s Literary Award, in 1998. That year it also received the Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Award.

This show is to be recorded on stage and streamed to patrons on demand.

The program is available here

“…undeniable emotional power.” New York Times

“…an ambitiously complex and satisfying work about interracial marriage, ghettos and the whitening of black history and culture.” Variety

Cast Bios:

HEATHER BARTON TJALMA (Amah) feels lucky to help tell this beautiful heart-wrenching story. During these turbulent times she knows how blessed she is to have the opportunity to create with such sweet, talented people. Additional appearances at CPH include The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Guys and Dolls, The Old Man and the Old Moon and several cabarets. Coming soon you can see her in a streaming of Lit, an original Blindspot Collective theatre production. She would like to send a special thank you to everyone watching – and encourages you to keep supporting theatre!

MALACHI BEASLEY (Othello) began his acting career here in Spring Valley, California. After graduating from Cal State Long Beach in 2019, he was accepted into Yale where he is currently pursuing his Masters degree. While at CLSUB, Cal Rep credits included Haemon (Antigone X) and Cash (The Funfair). Other credits include Hollywood Fringe Festival (The Human[oid] Experience). Before COVID-19, he was working on Yale Rep’s A Raisin in the Sun with director Carl Cofield. Now, back in his hometown, he is excited to be working on Coronado Playhouse’s production of Harlem Duet. He will be graduating from The Yale School of Drama in 2023.

DANIELLE BUNCH (Billie) is an actor and director from Houston, Texas, new to San Diego. Her favorite credits include No Exit and Becky Shaw with Firecracker Productions, Die Walküre with Houston Grand Opera and Feathers and Teeth for Mildred’s Umbrella Theatre Company. In San Diego she has performed with New Match Collective and is represented by Shamon Freitas Talent Agency. Danielle has a BFA in Theatre Performance from the University of Houston and is a graduate student studying Arts Administration and Museum Leadership through Drexel University. She is an arts educator and has recently launched a nonprofit primarily aimed at helping students of color pursue artistic disciplines in college and beyond called Fine Arts Forward.

CARLA BANU DEJESUS (Magi) marks her first performance with CPH with Harlem Duet. Acting credits include: What Would You Do Adventures (The Red Wolves Ensemble), Day of Absence(Common Ground Theater), The desTroyers (Southwestern College), Pruning Ivy (Common Ground Theater), Piece of My Heart (American History Theater), Fefu & Friends and W.O.W. Festival 2019 (O.P.A). Directorial credits include: Undertow/A Black Woman Speaks (New Match Collective/Tanika Baptiste Productions) and For Colored Girls… (La Jolla Community Theater & TBP). Carla has also been Creative Producer for Hear Her Roar 2020 (Oracle Performing Arts & TBP) and choreographer in Big Kitchen (San Diego Fringe 2017).

AHMED KENYATTA DENTS (Canada) is a 20-year San Diego Performing Arts and Media veteran serving in roles as radio host, live event host, voiceover artist, IT Manager, Sr. Patron Services Manager and Systems Administrator. He is currently the Development and Artistic Associate at San Diego Repertory Theatre, co-host of the bi-weekly salon “We Are Listening”, host of the “Ahmed’s Voice” podcast and most recently played the role of “Mister” in Common Ground Theatre’s This Is A Low (2021).

ANDREA ACUNA (Mona) is happy to be back on the Coronado Playhouse stage after last appearing as Mariane in the 2015 production of Tartuffe. Other recent credits include Claudia Faith Draper in Nuts (PowPAC/Aubrey Award Winner), Jean in Dead Man’s Cell Phone (Patio Playhouse) and Antony in Antony & Cleopatra (New Match Collective). Andrea would like to thank Kandace Crystal for the incredible opportunity to perform again during these unprecedented times as well as the cast and crew for their work and talent.

Creative Team:

KANDACE CRYSTAL (Director) (she/her) is an Actor, Director, Producer, & Florida State alum from Miami, FL. Her directorial credits include: The Mountaintop (AHT/TRTC/TYPA), Donna Orbits the Moon (Scripps Ranch Theatre) and Clybourne Park (Trinity Theatre Company). As Artistic Director of American History Theatre and Associate Artistic Director of Trinity Theatre Company, Kandace hopes to continue using her art to tell the stories of oppressed and marginalized communities. Feel free to keep up with her journey on social media, @KandaceCrystal on all platforms.

ANTHONY ZELIG (Producer/CPH Production Manager) appeared at the Playhouse as Miss Trunchbull in last year’s sole production, Matilda. Prior to that, he produced six 2019 CPH productions and did both lighting and sound design for several, earning an Aubrey Award for co-designing lights for Mamma Mia! Anthony is also an Ambassador and Administrator for San Diego’s new Theatre Alliance. He is excited to be a part of this incredible company of cast, crew and creatives. A very special thank you to Kandace Crystal for bringing this important show to CPH so that we can bring it to you.

BEONICA BULLARD (Stage Manager & Costume Designer) feels blessed to be working with Coronado Playhouse for the first time. Past shows include Quality of Life (Intrepid Shakespeare Company), Black Pearl Sings (San Diego Rep), The Niceties (Moxie) and Uplifting Black Voice (Common Ground). She has a Bachelor of Arts in Theater with an emphasis in Stage Management from SDSU. Previously she had a fellowship at San Diego Repertory Theater and is currently the Resident Stage Manager at JCompany Youth Theater. She was awarded a Certificate of Recognition in Artistic Achievement from the California Legislature Assembly.

DENNIS FLOYD (Set Designer) is excited to share his first executed design for Coronado Playhouse – CPH fans almost got to see his set for Richard III last summer, but Covid. He is happy to be creating again and working with Kandace and the fantastic Harlem Duet team and cast. Dennis’s most recent designs include God of Carnage (Lamplighters) and Treasure Island (Pickwick Players). He’s also grateful for the support of his long-suffering wife – Thanks Pam! Thanks also to Evelyn & Lucas for their help with the design and modeling of this set. “Thus have I, Wall, my part discharged so; and being done, thus Wall away doth go.”

KEVIN “BLAX” BURROUGHS (Lighting Designer) is grateful to be back on a light board designing his 2nd play in his career after exclusively designing musicals. He was last seen at Coronado Playhouse making his onstage debut as Flick in Violet in Concert (2017). Other lighting design credits elsewhere include shows such as The Addams Family, Legally Blonde, All Shook Up, Matilda, Wizard of Oz, James and the Giant Peach, Next To Normal, The Little Mermaid and his favorite, Carrie. He is a performer, director, choreographer & Co-Founder/Theatre Associate of Teatro San Diego. Instagram: @kevinblaxburroughs @teatrosandiego

KATHY PARKS (Props Designer) is happy to be back working with Coronado Playhouse after her 2019 “retirement’ as resident stage manager. She has worked on numerous productions with CPH, Trinity Theatre Company, OB Playhouse and Pickwick Players. She is excited to be working with this fabulous team and hopes this experience helps keep theatre thriving until such time that we can all be together again in person.

MARC AKIYAMA (Resident Sound Designer, Film Production) is a composer for film and theatre, and the co-founder of Akiyama Music, a film scoring and production studio. Marc is the Resident Sound Designer for Trinity Theatre Company and Coronado Playhouse. He scores a wide array of films from animation to original musicals, including Brush with Disney Animator, Garrett Lewis, while spanning multiple genres from jazz to orchestral. Marc co-hosts The Song to Screen Podcast, which explores storytelling techniques of film and theatre music. He and his brother produce creative content for their studio including original films and tutorial videos. Visit AkiyamaMusic.com for more.

KIMBERLY KING (Dramaturg) has an M.A. in Theatre Arts and is very pleased to once again be working with Coronado Playhouse on such a worthy work. A native San Diegan, Ms. King is a public school teacher of 25 years, mother of 3 local artists, arts advocate and Co-founder of Teenage Youth Performing Arts Theatre Company. “Dramaturgy, as a deep dive into the world of a play, is the ultimate theatre nerd-out and it gives me so much life – I love it.” typateam@typatheatrecompany.org

LANDON AKIYAMA (Film Production) is a born and raised California-based photographer and videographer. He’s photographed everything from portraits, couples and weddings to corporate events and concerts. When he isn’t behind the camera, Landon is a lyricist, composer and guitarist. He co-founded Akiyama Music, a film scoring studio whose recent work on Brush has been nominated for several film festival awards around the country. Landon also works as the Development Coordinator at La Jolla Music Society.

Press images:

Photos by Ken Jacques

Cast headshots:

Ticket Pricing:

Tickets: $25 per household, at-home streaming on demand

*Streaming is only available March 19 – April 18

No discounts are available for this production.

For questions, call the Box Office (619) 435-4856 or email  boxoffice@coronadoplayhouse.com

Be Part of the Conversation: Talkback with CPH

Coronado Playhouse and the Harlem Duet production team & cast will discuss the challenges of bringing this show to the stage and filming it for streaming on Wednesday, April 14 at 7pm.

This will be the second of two talkbacks held for this production.

Sign-up by clicking the link below.


Community Theatre is made by, with and for the community in which it is performed. Coronado Playhouse is committed to pursuing community theatre in the truest sense of the words by giving back to the people of San Diego County and Coronado and using our public platform to help those in need.

For Harlem Duet, Coronado Playhouse is partnering with Rachel’s Women’s Center.

Rachel’s Women’s Center provides a safe, supportive, sober environment and opportunities for women with few or no resources to gather, begin, and continue self-help efforts.

Please visit their website to see how to volunteer or donate to this important cause supporting homeless and struggling women, providing them with opportunities to effect changes in their lives.

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Contact Us:

1835 Strand Way, Coronado CA 92118-3005

Email: boxoffice@coronadoplayhouse.com

Phone: (619) 435-4856

Fax: ‭(619) 435-2866‬

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