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  • Monday, February 5, 2024 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm

Kelly Writers House, 3805 Locust Walk

Join us for a scene reading and discussion of Lorene Cary’s play Ladysitting, currently in its world premiere at the Arden Theater. Playwright Lorene Cary will be joined by Melanye Finister, the actor playing Lorene in the Arden production, and Terrence Nolen, Arden’s Producing Artistic Director. After a scene reading/performance by Finister, the group will talk about the development of Ladysitting, including the challenges and pleasures of turning memoir into theater.

LADYSITTING — now at the Arden — explores the life and last year of Lorene’s Nana, a fiercely strong and independent woman, who now needs the care of others. The play captures the ruptures, love, and forgiveness that can occur in family as Lorene journeys through stories of five generations of their African American ancestors and bears witness to her grandmother’s 101 vibrant years of life.

LORENE CARY writes: Plays: Ladysitting, following a 2018 opera version, the Arden Theatre adaptation premieres January 2024; My General Tubman at Arden Theatre, 2020, published by TRW. Librettos: Jubilee!, about the Fisk Jubilee Singers, then and now, with composer Damien Geter for Portland Opera, 2026. Memoirs: Black Ice, best-seller, studied nationwide, about attending St. Paul’s School in the 1970s, and Ladysitting: My Year with Nana at the End of Her Century, which explores caretaking her grandmother. Novels: The Price of a Child, inaugural One Book One Philadelphia feature; Pride, a girlfriend novel with serious bass notes; and If Sons, then Heirs, about family love and inheritance despite lynching and heir property laws. Cary teaches Creative Writing at UPenn and directs #VoteThatJawn to bring youth to the polls. Read more at

MELANYE FINISTER (Mel) Arden: Ladysitting, Backing Track, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummers Night's Dream (F. Otto Haas Stage inaugural production). Regional: Is God Is, There, Dionysus Was Such a Nice Man, When the Rain Stops Falling, Don Juan Comes Home From Iraq (Wilma Theater); Shakespeare In Love, The Diary of Anne Frank, Skeleton Crew, The Matchmaker, Project Dawn, All My Sons, Fences (People’s Light); Abandon (Theatre Exile); The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial Of Miz Martha Washington, Run Mourner Run (Flashpoint Theatre Company); Third (Philadelphia Theatre Company). Education: BFA, Carnegie Mellon University. Melanye is a Company member at People's Light and Wilma Hothouse. She was also a 2018 Ten Chimneys Lunt Fontanne Fellow.

TERRENCE J. NOLEN (Producing Artistic Director) is Co-founder and Producing Artistic Director of Arden Theatre Company. Favorite Arden productions include all-Philadelphia casts of August: Osage County, Death of a Salesman, The Grapes of Wrath, and A Streetcar Named Desire; and such musicals as Next to Normal, Sweeney Todd, Pacific Overtures, Violet, and Caroline, or Change. Terry directed the inaugural production of Arden Children’s Theatre, Charlotte’s Web. He has directed seven world-premiere plays by Michael Hollinger, three by Dennis Raymond Smeal, three by Michael Ogborn, two by Rogelio Martinez, and Bruce Graham’s Something Intangible. Terry has been nominated for 27 Barrymore Awards for his directing work at the Arden and received awards for The Baker’s Wife; Sweeney Todd; Opus; Winesburg, Ohio; Assassins; Something Intangible; and Fun Home. He directed Michael Hollinger’s Opus at Primary Stages in New York and was nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Director. His short film The Personal Touch was nominated for an Emmy Award.

This event is presented in collaboration with the Arden Theater Company and co-sponsored by the Center for Africana Studies, the Creative Writing Program, the English Department, and the Theatre Arts Program.


Register here to attend in person.