The Sheen Center

Dust of Egypt: Sojourner Truth’s Story

Event Details

Additional Ticket Information

Special discounts are available for seniors, students, veterans, clergy, and employees of the Archdiocese of New York, with a $5 reduction on tickets when presenting valid ID. For more details or to purchase tickets, please reach out to our box office at or call (212) 219-3132.

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Who Was Sojourner Truth?

Best known for her “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, Sojourner Truth was the Oprah of her day. But before she became a celebrated orator and activist, a young Sojourner was the first Black woman ever to sue a white man in court. Against all odds, she won. 

Dust of Egypt follows her moving quest to find her boy and bring him home. A memory play, it begins in the 1860s and shifts back and forth in time as it follows Sojourner’s journey from anger and grief to forgiveness and hope. The play explores tangled race relations, fighting injustice, faith, resiliency, and releasing the past.

Why Now?

There’s never been a better time for Dust of Egypt!

This intense drama:

•  Explores racial injustice and its human toll

•  Celebrates the power of courage and forgiveness

•  Shares Sojourner’s vision for a better future

Creative Team

Playwright Karin Abarbanel pursued her training at the T. Schreiber Studio and
Theater’s new playwrights program is led by Mick Casale, an award-winning playwright and instructor. Karin created Dust of Egypt in a workshop setting at Present Tense Productions. The T. Schreiber Studio and Gene Frankel Theatre mounted staged readings before its full production at the NY Theater Festival. Karin currently has several new dramatic projects in development, including a screenplay, Mr. Wilde Goes West, about a young Oscar Wilde's tour of America, and Walt and Private Hathaway, a play based on Walt Whitman's Civil War experience tending wounded soldiers.

Producer Emani Brielle Simpson is also an actor, director, and stage manager. She is the founder of the production company, The Real Artists (TRA), whose mission is to create an inspirational environment where artists can hone their crafts, thrive, and network to build a career out of their passions. Emani is passionate about bringing artists together and collaborating on new works. She is an associate producer for and a proud member of Breaking & Entering Theater Collective. Emani is one of the producers of SERIALS, a late night play competition series, and currently, stage managing Pecong at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. She is also the house manager at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center in New Jersey. Emani is joyous to be co-producing Dust of Egypt with the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture.

Director Rhonda PASSION Hansome is an AUDELCO Outstanding Pioneer Honoree who’s directed Melba Moore’s Sweet Songs of the Soul at the Bermuda Festival, New Federal Theater (AUDELCO Award Best Solo Performer) and the National Black Theater Festival. She has directed over forty productions including Saviour. (Dwyer Cultural Center) Another Man’s Poison (Peter Jay Sharp Theater) T’was The Night Before Kwanzaa (Black Spectrum and Billie Holiday Theaters) and Real Black Men Don’t Sit Crosslegged On The Floor (New Federal Theater (AUDELCO Award Best Ensemble.) Passion directed Connie Winston’s American Captives: Lena Baker & Sandra Bland at Dixon Place and the United Solo Festival on Theater Row. She directed Stevie & The Infinite Scroll in the
inaugural class of Writing & Design for the Musical Theater Masters Program at Berklee NYC; Dust of Egypt in the NY Theater Festival Winterfest (Best Actress Award, Best Director/Best Play Nominee.) She directs for the New Federal Theater Playwright Workshop and the Frank Silvera Writers Workshop. She recently directed the short film by Roetta-Lee Smith, Let’s Keep It Professional, a Kwanzaa Film Festival Finalist where Rhonda was awarded Best Ensemble Cast and writer Ms. Smith, Best Comedic Actress. Rhonda Passion Hansome has directed performances in the Houston and Newark airports, the National Arts Club, and the Museum of the City of NY. She delights in her extensive experience with solo works by comedians and actors. Festival directing includes 48 Hours in Harlem, NY International Fringe Festival, Voices From The Edge, NYU Festival
of New Works, Chekov NOW, Potpourri!, Estrogenius and Going To The River. Her
memberships have included Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, Women’s Project Directors Forum, SDC, and Tribeca Performing Arts Center Writers-In-Performance Lab. She enjoyed 5 years as Artistic Director of the NJPAC Young Writers Workshop. Follow her on FaceBook: @Rhonda Hansome Comedy, Twitter: @RhondaHansome, IG: @rhondafull, Tik Tok: @lobehold100

Stage Manager Melissa Ingle has stage managed for Breaking & Entering Theatre Collective "PEA Festival" (The Chain) and I Don't Want to See That's
"Mannequin Play" (The Tank). She runs the monthly artist meet-up Basement Bumz, @BasementBumz. She also directs, and this summer her piece "Shakespeare Translate: The Complete Work" will play at the Down to Clown Festival later this year and travel to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Costume Designer Mary Blackburn created the original costumes for the premiere of The Dust of Egypt. Ms Blackburn was the founder and Artistic
Director of NYC’s American Dance Ensemble, as well as Urban Artworks, a critically acclaimed presenting series at the NYC Pace Downtown Theater. She has been teaching artist for the Lincoln Center Institute,Dance Space Studios, the Peridance International Dance Center and the American College Dance Festival among others. Ms Blackburn recently retired from the School of Visual and Performing Arts in Montclair where she was the dance faculty and the Artistic Director of the Dance Company of MHS. In this capacity she choreographed over 75 works and choreographed/costumed numerous musicals and plays including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Cats, Ragtime, Once Upon a Mattress, Grease, Parade, Suessical the Musical, Ms. Saigon, Little Shop of Horrors, Urinetown, Hairspray, In the Heights, RENT, Pippin, A Chorus Line, Chicago, Oliver, Footloose and As You Like It. Plays include The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The House of Blue Leaves, Ordinary People, The Dinner Party, She Kills Monsters, Pride and Prejudice and The Bad Seed among others.

Marketing Director Gordon Balkcom contributes over 20 years of professional communications and technical media experience to the ideas for media implementation, promoting programs of various hues, and establishing and providing coordination between stakeholders on community-based projects. Before joining Barfield Public Relations in 2000, Mr. Balkcom’s achievements included services as Public Relations, Director, Central Brooklyn Partnership, and Public Relations Consultant, Unlimited Creative Enterprises. Mr. Balkcom has a Public Relations Studies Certificate from New York University School of Continuing Education, and a BA degree in Communication Arts, from Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY. In addition, he has received honors from the National Black Public Relations Society (NBPRS) and the Greater New York Chapter of the BPRS.


Desi Waters (SOJOURNER TRUTH) is honored to return to Women on Fire. Her acting credits include Mary Poppins, Fame, Romeo and Juliet, Uncle Vanya, Dust of Egypt: Sojourner Truth’s Story, and as a soloist for Former President Clinton’s: 50th Birthday at Radio City Music Hall. TV credits include The Blacklist, Harlem, CityKids: The TV Series, New Amsterdam, Broad City, Blue Bloods, Nickelodeon’s: The Big Help, and Power. She’s the Artistic Director for The CityKids Repertory Company, a teen theater company that harnesses the power of ARTivism and devised theater to empower young voices—anxious Mama. Proud Member of SAG-AFTRA.

Jade Cayne (BELLE) is an American actress, model, voice-over performer, and born and raised New Yorker. As a child Jade fell in love with seeing characters give life to the stories she watched on and off screen. She graduated from Binghamton University, where she studied acting and performed in her first stage production of The Twilight Zone. Jade holds a BA in Business Administration with a minor in Theatre and after working in Marketing & Public Relations for 3 years she decided to pursue acting professionally. She has since gone on to feature in commercials, short films, and TV series such as 'The Blacklist', 'Full Circle', 'Homicide City', and 'Evil Lives Here'. When she is not performing, Jade enjoys international travel and writing original poetry.

Eric Ruffin (PETER) is thrilled to be working with the Dust of Egypt team again after originating the role of Peter in the 2022 Winterfest production. Eric made his New York Off-Broadway Stage Debut in Cyrus Aaron’s Coping Mechanism at The Wild Project in 2023. Other Theatre credits include Shedding Load (59E59). He starred as Milo in The Transfiguration written/directed by Michael O'Shea which was an Un Certain Regard Official Selection 2016 Cannes Film Festival, won 2017 The Jury Award - Dublin Film Festival & was nominated for the John Cassavetes Award 2018 Independent Spirit Awards. Eric started acting at the age of 7 and made his TV debut recurring as Dylan Bishop in The Good Wife. Other TV credits: Hot Angry Mom (Pilot), Wu-Tang: An American Saga, 30 Rock, Person of Interest, A Gifted Man. IG: @itsericruffin

Garrett Lee Hendricks (ROBERT/ THOMAS) is proud to be a part of this performance telling the story of Sojourner Truth, and thanks the cast and crew for their hard work! He's been seen in Call Me King with Naturi Noughton and Lance Gross, will be seen in the upcoming thriller Black Heat with Jason Mitchell, and will be seen this year on Power Book II. As always, a shout out to friends and family, especially his beloved wife Nikoa and his baby girl Zuri, the source of all his joy!

Jeanna Schweppe (ELIZA GEDNEY-FOWLER/ MRS. GEDNEY) is originally from St. Louis, Mo. Her professional career started in the Broadway show "42nd Street" as Peggy Saywer. In the Broadway revival of "Grease," she played Sandy, Rizzo, and Cha Cha. She was also part of Trevor Nunn's production of "Starlight Express" National Tour in which she performed the roles of Dinah and Ashley. Regional: "Animal Crackers" (Arena Stage/Goodspeed Opera House ), "George M" ( St. Louis MUNY, with Joel Grey), and the John Houseman's theatre production "Comfortable Shoes". Film and Television: "In and Out" with Tom Selleck, "The Guru" with Marisa Tomei, "A Chorus Line", and Megan on "Another World", "The Break In" (Best Short nomination Beaufort International Film Festival) and "The Woods" (official selections at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, New York Shorts International and Queen Palm Festival). Recently, Jeanna was seen in " Through Open Doors" at the New York Shorts International Film Festival. Jeanna is grateful for all the love and support of her family and friends and feels very honored to be a part of such a powerful and poignant play as "Dust of Egypt".

Austin Iredale (AUCTIONEER/ SOLOMON GEDNEY) is a NY-based actor, writer, and producer. He has originated roles on the stage in Los Angeles and NYC, at the
Hollywood Fringe, the Stella Adler Lab Theater, and the New York Play Festival, as well as acted in numerous television series, including: “The Blacklist”, “Criminal Minds” and “Let The Right One In”. He is co-founder of ALWAYS WILD CONTENT with his wife and creative partner, Maia Pecci, and has produced both original theater and film in the New York area. Their company also supports "Women In Film: Paraguay”, a non-profit mentorship program that teaches young women in Asuncion how to tell stories through film. To learn more about Austin’s work ( | insta: austin.iredale) or Always Wild Content ( | insta: always.wild.content), follow the links, boy.

Daniel J. Martin (ROMEYN) eagerly returns to the stage, reprising his role of Romeyn in the mesmerizing production of "Dust of Egypt". With a rapidly growing resume, Daniel has left his mark on popular television series, including recurring roles on 'Power Book III: Raising Kanan', guest appearances on 'The Blacklist', 'Law & Order: Organized Crime', 'Blue Bloods', and more. Don't miss Daniel's next compelling performance as he recurs in Amazon's highly anticipated series, 'Fallout'. Born and bred in the heart of New York City, Daniel embodies the essence of the city's vibrant spirit. A quintessential New Yorker, Daniel's boundless energy and passion infuse every aspect of his life. When not captivating audiences, he indulges his love for cinema, and roots for the NY Jets, and pursues knowledge with relentless curiosity.