Azuka Theatre returns live and in-person with Erlina Ortiz’s ‘Young Money’
The production is the playwright’s latest project featuring an all-Philly region cast, and will run from Nov. 3 to Nov. 21.
Like most theatres in Philadelphia, the Azuka Theatre went dark for the 2020 season as it endured the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, after more than a year and a half of being dark, the theater returns for its first in-person, live production in Young Money, the latest production from playwright Erlina Ortiz. The play will run from Nov. 3 to Nov. 21, with opening nights on Saturday, Nov. 7 and Sunday, Nov. 8 in the Louis Bluver Theatre at The Drake on 302 S. Hicks Street.
Audience members will have to provide proof of vaccination before entering the venue and will be required to wear a mask.
Tickets are reserved before attending and are pay-what-you-can upon leaving at the end of the show.
Young Money tells the story of a relationship between two women from two totally different worlds.
Tomasina is hip-hop’s newest rising star under the name Kila-T, and while coming from humble roots, is outspoken, intelligent and “ratchet as hell,” as the character description reads.
Gardenia is a mother in her 50s dedicated to both her work and children. When she’s laid off from her banking job that she held for 20 years, Gardenia finds herself cleaning Kila-T’s dressing rooms to make ends meet.
The two women’s paths are forced together during an attack at one of Kila-T’s concerts, and both discover they have more in common than previously thought as they touch on topics like morality, success and redemption.
Young Money’s cast and production team features talent all from the greater Philadelphia region and stars Southwest Philly’s own Angela Bey as Kila-T and Johanna Tolentina as Gardenia.
The play is directed by Briana Gause, a filmmaker, theater maker, painter and teaching artist based in Philly.
As for Ortiz, Young Money is the seventh production she’s either created herself or helped create since writing MinorityLand for Power Street Theatre Company in 2013 — the young theater company’s first production. She is its co-artistic director and resident playwright.
Before Young Money, Ortiz and Power Street virtually screened another of her latest productions, Silueta, in July 2021. Silueta’s story, like Young Money’s, follows a friendship built between two women of totally different backgrounds during the contentious 2016 presidential election. On the whole, the production is a look at the relationship between Philadelphia’s Latinx and Muslim communities.
She is also in the process of unveiling a passion project, ¿Que lo Que?, an audio adventure traversing the COVID-19 pandemic via WhatsApp.
Her connection to Azuka Theatre is as part of its New Pages writers group, which is dedicated to providing a space for local Philly playwrights to develop their work. In line with that mission, Azuka has pledged to produce one work from a member playwright for each season.
Ortiz’s Young Money joins the plays Carroll County Fix from Val Dunn and Reverie from James Ijames for Azuka’s return season.