Artists’ Ensemble presents ‘Crumbs From The Table of Joy’

Erin Farste and Susan Anderson in Crumbs From The Table of Joy at Artists’ Ensemble Theater. (Photo by John Cobb)
Erin Farste and Susan Anderson in Crumbs From The Table of Joy at Artists’ Ensemble Theater. (Photo by John Cobb)

Staff Report

Artists’ Ensemble Theater (AET) will present Crumbs From The Table of Joy by Lynn Nottage in the Cheek Theatre at Rockford University June 13-29.

At 17, Ernestine’s world is in upheaval: her father has uprooted his two daughters from their rural Florida and moved to a cramped basement apartment in Brooklyn, a mystical, magical place to this 1950 teenager.

Her sister has gone boy crazy, her father has found religion, and glamorous, scandalous Aunt Lily has arrived uninvited in an intoxicating whirlwind of jazz and worldly wisdom.

Playwright Lynn Nottage says she wrote the play because “The 1950s was a moment in American history in which I felt so much change. It was the beginning of the civil rights movement. Music was going through this explosion. You had be-bop, rock ’n’ roll — so much that was going on. Such a volatile and rich period. Yet, everything I had seen was in black and white. And I wanted to make it colorful. So, I started writing Crumbs from the Table of Joy to try to understand that era.”

Erin Farste, a theater major at Rockford University, plays Ernestine Crump. Ensemble member David Causey, last seen in Gee’s Bend, plays her father Godfrey. Susan Anderson, who has performed with Goodman Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Cleveland Playhouse, and many more, plays Ernestine’s Aunt Lily. Rockford Guilford High School graduate and current Western Illinois University student Jayla Williams-Craig plays the boy-crazy Ermina, and Erin Philpott, last seen at AET in It’s A Wonderful Life (a live radio play) plays German immigrant Gerte Schulte, who forever alters the family’s life. The play is directed by AET Artistic Director Richard Raether.

This production is made possible by a grant from the Community Arts and Humanities Fund of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois and a grant from the Rockford Area Arts Council.

Crumbs From the Table of Joy is recommended for middle school age and older.

Performances are Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $10-$30.

For more information, visit or on Facebook. The Artists’ Ensemble Theater Box Office can be reached at (815) 394-5004.

Artists’ Ensemble in the professional theater in residence at Rockford University.

From the June 11-17, 2014, issue

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