I didn’t know how interesting garbage pickup could be until I saw The Garbologists, written by Lindsay Joelle and directed by Cody Estle. Opening the Northlight Theatre 2022–2023 season, it runs until October 2, 2022 at Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd in Skokie under the direction of Artistic Director BJ Jones and Executive Director Timothy J. Evans and features Tiffany Renee Johnson and Luigi Sottile.
Artistic Director BJ Jones notes, “Playwright Lindsay Joelle is from Highland Park, and we are delighted to present her work here at Northlight. I first read her play Trayf and was captured by her intense character work. Her gift for humor, as well as deeply human connection, leapt off the page. And it struck me that she had done significant research into the lives of sanitation workers of New York, who were newly realized essential workers during the pandemic. Without these essential workers, especially during the pandemic, New York would have had an even deeper crisis, and that the ecosystem of our cities is so delicate, that even the mildest of black swan events could set off a chain of disaster. These are things most of us I’ll wager don’t often think about as we tie our Glad bags and run to the alley.”
Walking in to the theater garbage trucks and garbage bags were in place against a New York skyline. Before long two workers filled the cab of the truck. Tiffany Renee Johnson is Marlowe, a newbie, her first day on the job wanting to put into action what she has learned and practiced. Luigi Sottile isDanny who has been on the job several years. He is busy telling Marlowe how things are done. The two workers riding in the cab of the garbage trick this day are seemingly very different.
Marlowe is a Black Harvard educated woman while Danny is a Blue- Collar White man. While initially verbally sparring, after many days together in which they have shared experiences and the chance to talk about their real lives, they learn that they are more alike than different The acting is superb, nuanced, well timed, and relatable. This is definitely an adult play.
Leaving with a new perspective, I believe, for me, the Northlight mission succeeded. “Northlight Theatre aspires to promote change of perspective and encourage compassion by exploring the depth of our humanity across a bold spectrum of theatrical experiences, reflecting our community to the world and the world to our community.”
The creative team includes Collette Pollard (Set and Projection Design), Gregory Graham (Costume Design), Greg Hofman (Lighting Design), and Josh Schmidt (Sound Design). The production stage manager is Rita Vreeland.
Founded in 1974, the organization has mounted over 220 productions, including more than 40 world premieres. Northlight has earned 208 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations and 36 Awards, as well as ten Edgerton Foundation for New Play Awards. As one of the area’s premier theatre companies, Northlight is a regional magnet for critical and professional acclaim, as well as talent of the highest quality.
Northlight is supported in part by generous contributions from Allstate Insurance; the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation; BMO Harris Bank; Bulley and Andrews; Byline Bank; The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; CoBank; ComEd, An Exelon Company; Eckenhoff Saunders; Evanston Arts Council; Evanston Community Foundation; Lloyd A. Fry Foundation; Full Circle Foundation; The Gross Foundation; Gruman Butkus Associates; John R. Halligan Fund; Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; Illinois Humanities; Katten Muchin Roseman LLP; Kirkland & Ellis Foundation; The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Modestus Bauer Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Niles Township; NorthShore University HealthSystems; Northwestern University; The Offield Family Foundation; The Pauls Foundation; PNC Bank; Polsinelli; Ralla Klepak Trust for the Performing Arts; Room & Board; Sanborn Family Foundation; The Saints Foundation; Dr. Scholl Foundation; The Shubert Foundation, Inc.; The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust; The Sullivan Family Foundation; and Tom Stringer Design Partners.
Production photos: Michael Brosilow