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Ten-year old Fleta Hazel's enslaved family makes the difficult choice to run for their freedom. Not knowing what’s ahead, young Fleta Hazel must find the courage for the long and dangerous trip, fueled by hope for a new life at their final stop, Jersey City.

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Speranza Theatre Company presents 



Playwright............................ JACQUELINE KENNEDY
Director................................... TIA DIONNE HODGE
Stage Manager..............................JACKIE LEIBOWITZ
Costumes/Props Designer............MARCI ELYN SCHEIN
Sound Engineer.....................NICHOLAS VON HAGEL

Click on Name Above for Team Member Bio



AMANDA JEAN.......................Fleta Hazel

LISA ULMER..................................Mama Willie

DONNIEE BARNES.........Miss Ma'am/Aunt Pearl

CHRIS GRANT.......................Uncle Ray/Thomas

DEONTÉ GRIFFIN-QUICK.....................Levi/John

TERRENCE BERRY.....................Levi/John

Click on photo below for Company Member Bio

Meet the Company
About the Playwright

About the Playwright

JACQUELINE KENNEDY (Playwright) is an award-winning filmmaker, director, producer, writer, actor, and author. The founder of The Kennedy Project, she is the creative force behind many projects in New York and North Carolina. Kennedy wrote, produced and directed the one woman show REFLECTIVE MINDS, which was produced in New York City. The writer, director and producer of the short film '1 Out of 8' she has won the Best Director Award at the Georgia Documentary Film Festival, Finalist at the Charlotte Black Film Festival and has received several official selections at other Film Festivals. Kennedy has appeared in several commercials including Burger King, Sprite, Honda, Lens Crafters, Panasonic, and Best Western. Her film credits include, Joyful Noise, Tower Heist, Girl 6; Television: Blue Bloods, The Good Wife, Law and Order; Theatre: LEADER OF THE PACK (Ronnette), MS. EVERS BOYS (Ms. Evers) and as well as, children's theatre and international theatre tours. Kennedy is also Co-owner of Break a Leg Talent Management, LLC where she assists cultivating talent - actors, musicians, singers, poets. She is also an accomplished children's book author, penning the wonderful stories of "Shoop-Doo-Bee-Doop," "Cake I Bake," and "Foxy and Henny." A SAG-AFTRA member, she earned her BA in Communications from UNC-G and Musical Theatre Certification from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy NY.

About the Director

Actor, director, and award-winning writer TIA DIONNE HODGE most recently appeared as Supporting Lead--Linda--in Quinn Shephard's Not Okay"(Hulu, 2022) and as guest-star, Nedra Lewis, Esq., on FBI: Most Wanted. She has appeared in Forever, 666 Park Avenue, Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order SVU, and Conviction, as well as in Nicole Holofcener's The Land of Steady Habits as Tamara, and as the female lead--Wendy Coleman--in Executive Producer Shaquille O'Neal's redemption drama, Steps, with Robby Morgan, Walter Fauntleroy, and Robert G. McKay. In addition to acting, Tia Dionne's plays have received productions and readings at New Perspectives Theatre Company (NYC) and Luna Stage (Montclair, NJ). Her monologues and essays can be found in More Monologues for Women, by Women; vol II, Black and Comedy: 9 Plays, and in her collection of monologues for young actors, PLAY. SPEAK, (OddInt Media, publisher). Tia Dionne is a former National Poetry Slam Team champion, and she shares writer, director, and producer credits for the short film "Big Bully" which won Best Children Short Film at the Mediterranean Film Festival Cannes (2019). Tia Dionne earned her M.A. and B.A. in English Literature from Case Western Reserve University. She and her husband, Thomas, are the proud parents of their daughter, Logan.

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About the Director

Production Team

HEATHER WAHL (Producer) is the founding artistic director of Speranza Theatre Company - awarded the 2022 Arts Organization of the Year by the Jersey City Arts Council and a proud member of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance. Heather has produced 17 full length plays, numerous original educational plays, countless staged readings, directed and/or choreographed 50+ productions, and acted in 100+ shows from off-Broadway to regional work in 36 of the contiguous United States. Speranza Producer Highlights: WALK BY THE WAY OF THE MOON; VOTES FOR WOMEN; WOMEN RISING STORIES OF HOPE; UNVEILING LIBERTY; JANEY MILLER’S WORLD TOUR; A PIECE OF MY HEART; THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES; and THE DAUGHTERS OF EVE. Acting Highlights include: A PIECE OF MY HEART (Speranza Theatre); LOOSE KNIT (Centenary Stage); A BODY OF WATER (Garage Theatre); THE DAUGHTERS OF EVE (Speranza/Cherry Lane); SCENES FROM AN EXECUTION (59E59); A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (dir. Austin Pendleton); and Anne Boleyn in REX (world premiere revival). She holds an MFA in Acting from The New School for Drama and a BFA in Dance with a minor in Women’s Studies. Proud member of Actors Equity Association and SAG/AFTRA.


JENNIE CONTUZZI (Producer) is the Associate Artistic Director of Speranza Theatre Company and a member of New Perspectives Theatre Company Women’s Playwriting Lab. Recent shows for Speranza include Unveiling Liberty (co-written by Charlotte Rahn-Lee), History Alive: The Revolution Comes to Jersey City, and Women Rising: Stories of Hope.

JACKIE LEIBOWITZ (Stage Manager) is a multi-hyphenate theatre artist based out of New Jersey. She is a freelance actor, stage manager, dramaturg, and Musical Theatre Historian among many other jobs. She holds a BA in Theatre and MA in Musical Theatre Studies from Temple University and currently runs her own Broadway-themed Etsy shop, Broadway Dork Designs. Some favorite roles include Hope Lennon (FINDING HOPE – World Premiere, Philly Young Playwrights), Rona Lisa Peretti/Olive’s Mom (25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE), and Queen Aggravain (ONCE UPON A MATTRESS). When she’s not working on shows professionally, she loves to split her time in North Jersey community theatre or working at her alma mater, Cedar Grove High School, on their musicals each year. You can find out more about her at or check out her shop @BroadwayDorkDesigns.


MARCI ELYN SCHEIN (Costumes, Props) is thrilled to be back at Speranza Theatre Company working with this amazing team of women. Marci is a performer in all disciplines of musical theatre, jazz and classical vocal music as well as a producer, director, musical director, choreographer and vocal coach/instructor. Marci is the owner/Artistic Director of Little Fig Stage, Inc. a performing arts company based in Chappaqua. NY and NYC. As a proud member of AEA, Marci has worked with The Garage Theatre Group, The Players Theatre, Speranza Theatre Co. and many more as an Actor and Stage Manager, as well as Director, Costumer, and Props Artisan off Broadway and regionally.


NICHOLAS VON HAGEL (Sound Engineer) is invigorated to be out and about again, working again with Speranza Theater Company. Nicholas currently freelances as an audio designer for numerous community theater and professional groups, as well as an audio mentor for middle/highschools, and theater camps throughout Essex and Morris county areas. Nick has designed many seasons with 4th Wall Theater, Montclair Operetta Club, Gas Lamp Players, Aspire Performing Arts, and NiCori Studios and Productions, to name a few. Nicholas also has his hand in lighting design with Mosaic Dance Theater, InterACT, NJTAP, along with a variety of production work with local high school arts programs. Nicholas is the Technical Director and Auditorium Coordinator at the School Districts of the Chathams, handling sets, lights, sounds, stage management and managing the student crew for all Chatham High School events.

About Speranza and More



​Discover, support, and enjoy the Jersey City art and business community. 

During JC Fridays, we invite you to tour galleries, businesses, event venues and art-related spaces to see a variety of artwork and enjoy the spirit and culture of the city as you mingle with other residents and visitors. All events are free and open to the public.


Whether you're a seasoned art patron or exploring the arts for the first time, JC Fridays is for you. 



Speranza Theatre Company is a non-profit women's theatre company and member of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance. Founded to provide an opportunity for artists, particularly females, to share their voices through entertaining and challenging theatre, Speranza presents professional theatrical performances, free readings of new works, and educational programming.




Jersey City Office of Cultural Affairs



Art House JC Fridays

Speranza Theatre Company Board of Directors

Crystal Davis/


Diana Basmajian/



This program is made possible by a grant from the New Jersey State Council  on the Arts, a division of the Department of State, and administered by the Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, Thomas A. DeGise, Hudson County Executive & the Hudson County Board of County Commissioners, as well the support of The Jersey City Office of Cultural Affairs, and Museum of Jersey City History.

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