Etta and Ella on the Upper West Side

Adrienne Kennedy and Monty Cole


One of the American theater’s seminal writers, Adrienne Kennedy captures the Black experience in America in the 20th century with a trademark embrace of symbolism, lyricism, and mythic figures. In this world premiere production, Etta and Ella Harrison are talented academics on the Upper West Side—as well as sisters and rivals. After a lifetime of competition, they are on the verge of destroying each other. Next-generation director Monty Cole employs a cinematic approach to this intricate blend of monologue, dialogue, voiceover, and prose in a work that is part experimental play, part narrative thriller.

[Adrienne Kennedy is] one of the American theater’s greatest and least compromising experimentalists.

Alexis Soloski, The New York Times

Etta and Ella on the Upper West Side is a world premiere production.

Co-Presented with CalArts Center for New Performance.

Produced by CalArts Center for New Performance.

Made possible in part with generous funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

about the artists

Adrienne Kennedy

Adrienne Kennedy is an award-winning playwright, lecturer, and author. Her plays include Funnyhouse of a Negro (Obie Award), June and Jean in Concert (Obie Award), A Movie Star Has to Star in Black and White, A Rat’s Mass, The Owl Answers, Motherhood 2000, Electra and Orestes, She Talks to Beethoven, An Evening with Dead Essex, A Lesson in a Dead Language, and The Lennon Play. She is the recipient of an Obie Award for Sleep Deprivation Chamber, which she co-authored with her son Adam. Other awards include a Guggenheim Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature, the 1990 American Book Award, and induction into the Theater Hall of Fame. Her published works include In One Act, Alexander Plays, Deadly Triplets, He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box and Other Plays, and the memoir People Who Led to My Plays. She was also commissioned to write plays for Jerome Robbins, the Public Theater, Mark Taper Forum, Juilliard School, and the Royal Court in England. She has been a visiting lecturer at Yale University, New York University, Harvard University, and University of California at Berkeley, where she was Chancellor’s Distinguished Lecturer in 1980 and 1986. In 2018, Kennedy was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement in the American Theater.


Monty Cole

Monty Cole is an award-winning theater and film writer-director based in Chicago, Illinois. He has directed for The Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf, Center Theatre Group, The Playwrights Center, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Victory Gardens Theater, CalArts Center for New Performance, Cape Cod Theatre Project, Alley Theatre, American Blues Theater, and others. His reinterpretations of classics from Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape to Hamlet have received awards and critical praise in Chicago. His play American Teenager is a commission from the Goodman Theatre’s Playwrights Unit. He is currently an artist in residence at CalArts Center for New Performance, a fellow at Hermitage Artist Retreat, and a research scholar of the Bridge to Faculty at University of Illinois Chicago. In 2021, Cole directed three short films: Six Feet Apart by Isaac Gomez; Sons of Toledo, written by Cole and Matt Foss; and his own short, Whole. Recently, Cole directed an episode of The Cymbeline Project for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Coming up, Cole will direct Incendiary by Dave Harris at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, D.C. Monty has a BFA in Theatre Studies from Emerson College and an MFA Directing from CalArts.

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cast & creative team

Written by Adrienne Kennedy

Directed by Monty Cole