Brilliant Traces CREATIVE

Creative Member Image
Kiff Scholl
Kiff Scholl’s recent productions include West Bollywood, The Last Schwartz, The Red Dress, Wicked Pagan Gays, Future Sex, Inc., Please Don’t Ask About Becket, Dinner at Home Between Deaths, and Moon Over Buffalo (BroadwayWorld nominee). Other critically acclaimed productions include La Bête  and world premieres Car Plays, A Mulholland Christmas Carol; Middle Savage; Act a Lady; and Don Giovanni Tonight, Don Carlo Tomorrow at Sacred Fools, about which the LA Times observed “Director Kiff Scholl has few peers at keeping us intrigued.” His shows have garnered seven Backstage Garland awards, five LA Weekly awards, a GLAAD nomination and an Ovation award. Scholl was listed as “one of LA’s emerging and accomplished stage directors” by the LA Weekly. Other favorites include The Poseidon Adventure-The Musical!, and Kill Me, Deadly, The Fan Maroo and Shake at Theatre of NOTE. Kiff Scholl is a proud member of SDC and a rescue dog dad. /Twitter: @afkiff
Stage Manager
Courtney Rhodes
Courtney is a freelance stage manager who recently moved to Los Angeles. She has also worked on productions of Women of Manhattan, Good For Otto and BLISS: Or Emily Post is Dead. She is excited to be working on this project with this awesome cast. Also, special thanks to her friends for supporting and encouraging her.
Sound Designer
David Medina
"Born and raised in Southern California, DJ Medina, has been making noise since he was old enough to “throw things off the table just to hear them hit the floor.” As a percussionist, he has learned how important every little sound can be. DJ was a 2016 BroadwayWorld - Best Sound Designer nominee for his work on Good People at the Hudson Guild Theatre. Other productions include Waiting for Godot, Vanya, Sonia, Masha, & Spike, Love/Sick, and most recently Top Girls."
Lighting Designer
Andrew Schmedake
Andrew Schmedake is a Los Angeles-based lighting designer for theater, dance and live events. Recent credits include designs for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Dogfight (After Hours Theatre Company), Native Son (Antaeus Theatre Company), The Art Couple (Sacred Fools), Sister Act (Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center), The Man Who Came to Dinner, The 39 Steps, 33 Variations (2017 Ovation Award for Lighting Design, Intimate Theater) (Actors Co-op), Blackbird (BAE Theatre) and the UCSB Dance Company. Andrew holds an MFA from the School of Drama at Carnegie Mellon University and teaches as a guest lecturer in lighting design at UC Santa Barbara.
Set Designer
John Mahr
John originally hails from Northwest Ohio, where he designed and built sets for productions including Wizard of Oz, Carousel, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. In 2003, he moved to Chicago, switching gears and focusing on his love of improv and sketch comedy, performing at many venues, including Second City, and iO. In 2010, John relocated to Los Angeles to pursue both his loves; working as an actor in tv, music videos, and principle roles in commercials for major brands including Union 76, Ubisoft, and Farmer Boys. He also earned a one year certificate in Business and Management of Entertainment Studies at UCLA in 2016, and has kept busy designing and building sets, both for an LA shop and independently; most recently as lead carpenter for The 1111 Experience's production of Elevator. John would like to thank the production team of Brilliant Traces, and wishes all the best to the cast and crew!
Costume Designer
Kathryn Juday
Kathryn has worked in fashion and costuming for the last 30 years in Los Angeles. She is thrilled to join the team and hopes you enjoy the show!
Fight Choreographer
Jen Albert

Playwright: Cindy Lou Johnson

Cindy Lou Johnson (Playwright) Cindy Lou Johnson’s epic play THE NEW AMERICANS launched A.C.T.’s (San Francisco) New Voices series. It was developed at Tisch, where Johnson was a guest artist, and workshopped at New York Stage and Film. Johnson is best known for her play BRILLIANT TRACES, which was produced by the Circle Repertory Company at the Cherry Lane Theatre and has had many productions throughout the United States and Canada, and was produced in Paris at Théâtre de la Gaîté. A filmed version was produced for Canadian television, and a translation into American Sign Language premiered in Los Angeles. Johnson’s other plays include THE YEARS, BLESSE, and THE PERSON I ONCE WAS. She has had productions at The Manhattan Theatre Club, The Circle Repertory Company, The Alliance Theatre, The Actors Theatre of Louisville, and The Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, among other places. THE YEARS was also produced for Canadian television. Johnson is a graduate of Cornell University and the Sorbonne and a recipient of the National Endowment Playwriting Fellowship. She also writes for film and television.

A Play Grows Out of Family Art and Tradition

The poem was written by Avah Pevlor Johnson, who happens to be Cindy Lou Johnson's mother.

''What happened was that I wrote the play and was seeking a title,'' Ms. Johnson says. ''I've always loved this particular poem - it's my favorite poem of my mother's. And in seeking a title it came to me that I had written a play about people who were scarred but were trying to make something of value out of their pain. And that to me is what the poem is about. It's about seeking higher ground. That we go through life, and we're forced into a terrible struggle with life sometimes. But the point is not just to struggle, or to survive, but to do so with some kind of dignity and beauty.''

''The play is not really based on the poem at all,'' she continues. ''But when Terry Kinney, the play's director, was reading the poem, he said it was as if I wrote the play completely and entirely out of the poem.''

''Brilliant Traces,'' which stars Kevin Anderson and Joan Cusack, opened last week to critical praise and is being presented by the Circle Repertory Company. It is set ''in the state of Alaska, in the middle of nowhere,'' and it begins as a young woman dressed in a wedding gown seeks shelter from a snowstorm in an isolated cabin inhabited by a young man. A Writer Since Age 6

Ms. Johnson, who is 36 years old, has lived many places but never in Alaska. ''I had a very itinerant childhood,'' she says, sitting in the theater. ''My father was in the Air Force, and I spent my first five years in Japan. And then I spent time in the South, and then in the Northeast. I was born in Sacramento, but we left very quickly. I graduated from Cornell, but I went to the Sorbonne, so I spent a year in France. And even after I moved to New York, where I've lived for 10 years now, I spent a year in Europe writing. And then I went off, in '85 or so, and spent time in Australia and India.''

She has been a writer, she says, since she was 6 years old: ''I've always been a writer, but I didn't know I was one until much later. But I was a storyteller as a child. My family is from the South. My parents are from Kentucky, and we have a big tradition of storytelling. Even small events, what you did that day, were turned into a story. It's something that I didn't know was specific to my family until I started realizing that other people didn't quite always make things into a story.

''Somehow we would sit down and encapsulate it. I grew up in that kind of environment, and I think it fed me a great deal.''

And of course, she says, there was her mother, a published poet. ''I think of my mother as an artist at large,'' Ms. Johnson says. ''Everything she does has a sense of perspective - of not just doing something but of having a perspective on it of value and meaning, which to me is what art is.''

Writing for the theater, however, is something she has come to fairly recently, Ms. Johnson says. ''My first play was done at the Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference in 1984,'' she says. ''I had been writing fiction, but I did that play because I came upon a story that I just felt was a play. I don't know why. I wasn't an aficionado of the theater, and I hadn't studied theater, really. And suddenly I was accepted to the O'Neill, and there I was with Lee Blessing and John Patrick Shanley and August Wilson. It was a funny kind of summer, but it radically informed me. That's quite a lot of feedback to get on your first play.''

Ms. Johnson was selected twice for the O'Neill Conference. Her play ''Blesse'' was produced at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta. Her one-act play ''The Person I Once Was'' was commissioned by the Actors Theater of Louisville and then played in New York at the Working Theater. ''Brilliant Traces'' was developed at New York Stage and Film's summer program at Vassar.

''What I usually do,'' she says, ''is I have an idea, and I just leave it there for a while, and then - boom! - I sit down and give it structure. For example, with 'Brilliant Traces' I had the idea in my mind for months of this woman in a car in a wedding gown. And I had no idea of what her story was, no idea of what she was going to do. But I did know I wanted to put it in one theme - the theme of great loss and recovery.

''I just became very interested in how people rise, what is the phoenix - how do you come out of those traumas, be it from something as basic as divorce to something like losing a child, which it seems to me is a tragedy that you almost can't overcome. And I began to examine two characters who for their own particular reasons had suffered tragedies, or at least had suffered something that had put them in a state that made them not really want to connect with other people. It was too painful, and potentially too damaging.''

''Most people in their lives have suffered a great deal of pain.'' she says. ''In order to really be alive, there's a lot of pain that has to be endured. And most people struggle with that choice. Is it worth it? And it's a reasonable question.'' The Necessity to Connect

''And to my mind, what this play is about is that we have to connect with other people,'' she continues. ''We're here. We're not isolated. Through loving, we can grow and heal and change. And as strong as our urge might be to fight it because of the pain it might cause, it's absolutely imperative that we connect.''

With ''Brilliant Traces,'' she has begun to taste theatrical success. But to her, she says, her biggest success came earlier - ''when I began to turn a corner and really write what I felt.''

''I could feel that starting to happen a few years ago,'' she says. ''It came from spending a lot of time alone and examining how I felt about things - really looking at my life and where I came from and where I was going. It came out of contemplation and reflection and struggle.''

''That's why I feel that being successful involves putting something down that I feel, that is the way I see the world,'' she says. ''And you always take a chance when you do that. You sort of put yourself on the line. But when I feel like I've written something well, that's when I feel successful. Because finally, that's where I am. I'm in my room, alone all the time, writing. And either I feel good about it or I don't.''