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Live Arts is excited to present the Virginia premiere of Donja R. Love’s explosively powerful drama, FIREFLIES, as the next show in its 33rd Season. Directed by Ti Ames, FIREFLIES has 14 performances in the Founders Theater, March 29 through April 20, at Live Arts, 123 E. Water Street, in Charlottesville. FIREFLIES is presented by Pamela Friedman and Ronald Bailey and sponsored by the Office of Social Equity of the City of Charlottesville. Tickets are $27 for adults or $24 for students and senior citizens and are available through the Box Office at, by phone at 434-977-4177 x123, or online at

Live Arts will host two special events for FIREFLIES: Opening night reception following the performance on March 29, 2024; and a post-show audience talk-back on April 11 (7:30pm curtain). Audiences are welcome to enjoy beverages and concessions one hour prior to the performance.

“A jaw-dropping and explosively dramatic two-hander. Love crafts an intimate story that comes to feel cosmic in its enormity.” – 

Before the lights come up in FIREFLIES, you hear the insects humming. Then you start to see them flying in a bright red sky, and hear a repetitive boom … boom … boom. It’s the fall of 1963 and four Black children have just been killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. 

In his trilogy The Love*Plays, Afro-Queer playwright Donja R. Love explores Queer love at significant moments in Black history. Part One, Sugar in Our Wounds, is set during the Civil War, and Part Three, In the Middle, takes place against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement. Part Two of the trilogy, FIREFLIES, centers on the civil rights movement. Olivia is the speechwriter for her charismatic husband, the Reverend Charles Emmanuel Grace, a galvanizing leader in the movement. As he returns home, we witness their marriage at a crisis point, as secrets are laid bare. In this story of endurance and empowerment, the language is rich, rhythmic, and riveting. 

FIREFLIES unapologetically delves into a myriad of topics including Olivia’s secret Queer love, and Charles’ infidelity and alcohol abuse. Love’s work celebrates the neglected stories often erased by history. The Love*Plays “force us to reckon with the fact that love, without being monolithic, is our most essential need and deserved by all,” says the playwright.  

Live Arts production of FIREFLIES is directed by Ti Ames. The cast includes Arianna Jones as Olivia, and Simeon Brown as Charles. In certain select performances, Christiana Mitchell will play the role of Olivia, and Kieryn Burton will play the role of Charles. The production’s dynamic creative team includes: Khadijah Williams (production stage manager); Kieryn Burton (assistant stage manager); Bee Smith (scenic design); Ant Ma (scenic design mentor); Laurence Hugo (lighting design); John Holdren (sound design); Kasey Brown (costume design); AV Légere (properties design); Daniel Kunkel (fight choreography); and Laura Rikard (intimacy consultant).

Performance History

The world premiere of FIREFLIES was presented by Atlantic Theater Company. FIREFLIES was developed in part with the support of Rising Circle Theater Collective at the INKtank Play Development Lab for Emerging Artists of Color.  

About the Playwright

Donja R. Love, an Afro-Queer playwright, poet, and filmmaker, is the 2017 Princess Grace Fellow, a Eugene O’ Neill 2017 National Playwrights Conference finalist, The Lark’s 2016 Van Lier New Voices Playwriting Fellow, The Playwrights Realm’s 2016-2017 Writing Fellow, and the 2016 Arch and Bruce Brown Playwriting Award recipient. His work has been developed at Manhattan Theatre Club, Rising Circle Theatre, The Lark, and The Playwrights Realm. He’s the co-founder of The Each-Other Project, an organization that helps build community and provide visibility, through art and advocacy, for LGBTQ People of Color. Select stage-plays include: The Love* Plays, Soft, The Trade, The North Star, A Ugandan Family, and One in Two (Terrence McNally Award winner). Select film work: Modern Day Black Gay (web series), and Once A Star (short film).

About the Director

Ti Ames (they/them) is an educator, singer, and theater maker with ancestral roots in Charlottesville. A graduate of Oberlin College, Ti is the education director at Live Arts and has taught theater and African-American history at the Renaissance School.  When not working, they can be found directing, writing, and adapting plays at Live Arts and with the Charlottesville Players Guild or performing gigs with Vibe Riot. Ti is most passionate about their work with children and young adults, specifically teaching the importance of consent, healthy boundaries, and self/community care. Directing credits include: The Brothers Size, Olympus (Oberlin College); She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms (Renaissance School); Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Charlottesville Players Guild); RENT; CRUMBS FROM THE TABLE OF JOY; and YOU DON’T KNOW JACKSH*T ABOUT THE MOTHMAN (Live Arts).

About Live Arts 

Live Arts is a volunteer-powered, nonprofit community theater in Downtown Charlottesville. Founded in 1990, Live Arts is celebrating more than 33 years of forging theater and community. The 2023/23 Expectations Season is made possible by Elizabeth LeVaca, remembering Joe LeVaca; C-VILLE Weekly; WTJU 91.1FM; Ting; and PJ Networks Computer Services.  Live Arts is supported by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, which receives support from the Virginia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; the City of Charlottesville; Albemarle County and by philanthropic gifts by hundreds of theater lovers in the Charlottesville community.

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