Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang: André De Shields in Charles Smith’s The Gospel According to James at the Victory Gardens Biograph through June 12

André De Shields at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater in Chicago, where he is appearing in Charles Smith's The Gospel According to James through June 12, 2011. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater in Chicago, where he is appearing in Charles Smith's The Gospel According to James through June 12, 2011. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields has been having a love affair with Chicago, the city where theatre as a way to life began for him, initially as a member of the Pottawattamie Tribe in Michael Butler’s 1969 production of Hair, The American Tribal-Love Rock Musical, directed by Tom O’Horgan at The Shubert Theatre.

Reflecting on his start in Chicago, De Shields shared, “After fifteen months of ‘beads, flowers, freedom, happiness,’ I assumed the role of Clorox in The Me Nobody Knows (Chicago’s Civic Theatre). Hot on the heels of that experience, Stuart Gordon invited me to become a member of The Organic Theatre Company, where, in 1971, I created the cult villain, Xander the Unconquerable, Ruler of the Sixth Dimension in Warp: The World’s First Science Fiction Epic Adventure Play In Serial Form. The Organic achieved this feat fully seventeen years before Star Wars. In 1973, I debuted on Broadway in Warp (Ambassador Theatre).” While in Chicago, he garnered two Jeff Awards (Victory Gardens, Goodman) and a Black Theatre Alliance Award (Goodman). He is the recipient of an Emmy, a Living Legend Award, an OBIE Award and multiple Tony Award nominations. www.andredeshields.com.

Linda Kimbrough as Marie and André De Shields as James in Charles Smith’s The Gospel According To James at Victory Gardens Theater.  Photo by Liz Lauren

Linda Kimbrough as Marie and André De Shields as James in Charles Smith’s The Gospel According To James at Victory Gardens Theater. Photo by Liz Lauren

Through June 12, you can catch him at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park, where he is currently starring as the title character in the Chicago Premiere of Charles Smith’s The Gospel According to James, directed by Chuck Smith. The cast also features Linda Kimbrough (Marie), Kelsey Brennan (Mary), Wardell Julius Clark (Tommy Shipp), Zach Kenney (Claude), Diane Kondrat (Bea Ball), Christopher Jon Martin (Hoot Ball), Anthony Peeples (Apples), Tyler Jacob Rollinson (Abe Smith) and Nick Vidal (Claude).

The Victory Gardens production of The Gospel According to James, follows the well-received world premiere, which was commissioned by Indiana Repertory Theatre and presented by Bingham McHale from March 22-April 10, 2011.

Anthony Peeples as Apples, Zach Kenney as Claude and Kelsey Brennan as Mary in Charles Smith’s The Gospel According To James at Victory Gardens Theater.  Photo by Liz Lauren

Anthony Peeples as Apples, Zach Kenney as Claude and Kelsey Brennan as Mary in Charles Smith’s The Gospel According To James at Victory Gardens Theater. Photo by Liz Lauren


The double lynching immortalized by the iconic Lawrence Beitler photograph served as playwright Charles Smith’s inspiration for The Gospel According to James. The play is set in 1930 in Marion, Indiana, where five young people are eager to break out of their small town. They need a car. They have a gun. The play creates a fictional meeting between James Cameron (De Shields) who survived the lynching and Mary Ball, the only woman with them that night. Years later, contradictory memories are all that’s left of their grand plans. As The Gospel According to James dramatizes the events leading up to the crime, it also explores how unreliable personal memory underlies what we believe to be an immutable public history.

Diane Kondrat as Bea Ball and Christopher Jon Martin as Hoot Ball in Charles Smith’s The Gospel According To James at Victory Gardens Theater.  Photo by Liz Lauren

Diane Kondrat as Bea Ball and Christopher Jon Martin as Hoot Ball in Charles Smith’s The Gospel According To James at Victory Gardens Theater. Photo by Liz Lauren


The production team for The Gospel According to James includes scenic design by Linda Buchanan, costume design by Rachel Healey, lighting design by Kathy Perkins, compositions and sound design by Ray Nardelli.

Remaining Performance Schedule:
Thursdays: 7:30 pm
Fridays: 7:30 pm
Saturdays: 4:00 pm, 7:30 pm
Sundays: 3:00 pm

Victory Gardens Biograph Theater is located at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park. Tickets are $20-$50.The Box Office is located at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago. Call 773.871.3000, online at victorygardens.org or email tickets@victorygardens.org.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2011 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com.

The Gospel According to James Reviews and Articles:
examiner.com: Review-The Gospel According to James
examiner.com:The Gospel According to James Slideshow
stagewrite.com: The Gospel According to James
indytheatrehabit.com: Theatre Review: “The Gospel According to James” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre
nuvo.net: Review: IRT’s ‘Gospel According to James’
INDIANAPOLIS RECORDER: Whose ‘gospel’ you gonna believe?
Broadwayworld.com: Victory Gardens Presents The Gospel According to James 5/14-6/12
Indystar.com: ‘Gospel’ looks at lynchings from 2 characters’ views
indystar.com: IRT premieres play that shows contradictions in Marion lynching
From the Danner Lounge with Andre De Shields
playbill.com: André De Shields Stars in World Premiere of Fact-Based Gospel According to James at Indiana Rep
theatermania: Andre De Shields to Star in The Gospel According To James at Indiana Repertory Theatre
ibj.com: The Gospel According to James
broadwayworld.com: De Shields Headlines THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JAMES at Indiana Repertory
Timessquaregossip.com: The Gospel According to James to Debut
Playbill.com: André De Shields Will Star in World Premiere Gospel According to James at Indiana Rep
theatermania.com: Andre De Shields to Star in The Gospel According To James at Indiana Repertory Theatre
André De Shields Set for World Premiere of Charles Smith’s The Gospel According to James at Indiana Rep, 3/22-4/10

Other Articles on Andre De Shields:
André De Shields set for Chicago Premiere of Charles Smith’s The Gospel According to James at the Victory Gardens Biograph
Photos: De Shields, McClendon, Elisa, Glasco, Nemser, Phillips, Thompson at The Sovereign State of Boogedy Boogedy Reading
Spend Valentine’s Day with André De Shields in The Sovereign State of Boogedy Boogedy at the Abingdon Theatre
André De Shields and Charlayne Woodard are featured in Red Bull Theater’s Off Broadway Production of The Witch of Edmonton
André De Shields leads cast of Charles Smith’s Knock Me A Kiss at Abrons Arts Center
Andre Dé Shields is having a Devilishly Good Time in Damn Yankees at The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport
Photos of André De Shields in Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory: From Douglass to Deliverance
Achieving the American Dream, Professional Charmer Andre De Shields Sees Theater is a Way to Life
André De Shields Celebrates Black History Month Starring in The Working Theater’s Production of Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory at The Abingdon in February 2010
Classical Theatre of Harlem’s Archbishop Supreme Tartuffe, MTC’s Ruined are Top Winners at 2009 Audelcos
Multimedia: Archbishop Supreme Tartuffe Opening Night Party Photos
Multimedia: Archbishop Supreme Tartuffe
André De Shields and Reg E. Cathey Star in Cato at The Flea
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive.

Lia Chang Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography

Lia Chang Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography

Lia Chang is an actor, performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multimedia journalist.

As a photographer and videographer, Lia collaborates with artists, organizations and companies in establishing their documentary photo archive and social media presence. She has been documenting her colleagues and contemporaries in the arts, fashion and journalism since making her stage debut as Liat in the National Tour of South Pacific, with Robert Goulet and Barbara Eden. Lia currently plays Nurse Lia on “One Life to Live”. She has appeared in Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and “New York Undercover”.

Selections of Lia’s archive of Asian Pacific Americans in the arts, fashion, journalism, politics and space are in the newly created LIA CHANG THEATER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTFOLIO in the ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN PERFORMING ARTS COLLECTION housed in the Library of Congress Asian Division’s Asian American Pacific Islander Collection.

Lia’s portraits and performance photos have appeared in Vanity Fair, Gourmet, German Elle, Women’s Wear Daily, The Paris Review, TV Guide, Daily Variety, Interior Design, American Theatre, Broadwayworld.com, Life & Style, OUT, New York Magazine, InStyle, Timeout.com, Villagevoice.com, Playbill.com, Theatermania.com, thelmagazine.com, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, USA Today, The Boston Globe, New York Times and Washington Post. A former syndicated arts and entertainment columnist for KYODO News, Lia is the New York Bureau Chief for AsianConnections.com. She writes about culture, style and Asian American issues for a variety of publications and this Backstage Pass with Lia Chang blog.

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