The Guthrie Theater presents a Full Circle Theater production of

Under This Roof

by Barbara Kingsley
directed by James A. Williams


About the show

A world-premiere drama set in the late 1940s during America’s post-WWII recovery, this four-character, two-act play takes place in the segregated black neighborhood of Central Cleveland, which Mamie and Raymond Warren call home. When Mamie desperately needs household help after her husband has a serious accident, she takes a friend’s advice and hires a down-on-her-luck woman named Bessie, whose arrival brings surprises and new challenges. In this setting, Under This Roof explores themes of mature love, family, disability and race on an ever-shifting axis with often-unexpected comic, painful and heartfelt results.

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Dowling Studio

Run Time

2 hours, with one intermission  

Content advisory

This production contains mature language and simulated smoking.


ASL, Audio Described and Open Captioned performances are available on select dates.

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Ticket Prices

All tickets in the Dowling Studio are $9. Seating is General Admission.

Age recommendation

We recommend children be 12+, but admit children as young as 8.

Playwright, Barbara Kingsley

Barbara Kingsley is a veteran stage and screen actress, well-known as an Ivey Award-winning performer who created hundreds of characters for more than 40 years on Twin Cities stages. As a playwright, her works include I Am Proof of Me – A Final Visit with Emily Dickinson and Living in the Blue Zone. In 2011, Kingsley received one of three Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grantto conduct research for Under This Roof in Cleveland and obtain oral histories from people who lived in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood in the late 1940s. Under This Roof was selected as a 2015 semifinalist at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference.

Director, James A. Williams

James A. Williams is a nationally recognized theater artist, Guthrie veteran and founding member of Penumbra Theatre. He was one of three actors to perform in August Wilson’s final play, Radio Golf from its world premiere at Yale Rep to its Broadway premiere in a role Wilson created for him. His acting credits include the Kennedy Center, Centerstage, Goodman, Mark Taper Forum, McCarter Theatre and Seattle Rep. He has directed at Park Square, Pillsbury House, History Theatre and Penumbra. From 19901994, he was a member of the Guthrie’s acting company, working with Doug Hughes, Bill T. Jones, Robert Woodruff and Bartlett Sher, among others. Recently, he performed in the Guthrie’s productions of Romeo and Juliet and King Lear, directed by Joseph Haj.

Assistant Director, Roxane Battle

Roxane Battle is a celebrated Twin Cities journalist, award-winning author and speaker best known for her work as news anchor and reporter at KARE TV-NBC Minneapolis. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a theater minor and performed in several plays at Penumbra in the 1980s. She recently returned to her theater roots, developing a passion for stage direction after writing and directing five community-based musical productions, which led to her reconnecting with James A. Williams, with whom she’d worked at Penumbra. Through this reconnection, the idea emerged to expand her professional directorial skills under Williams’ mentorship.​

Related events

The best conversations happen before and after the show. Join us on select dates for engaging discussions with the artists and staff who bring the show to life.

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Mamie Warren             Yolande Bruce*                                  
Raymond Warren         Brian A. Grandison 
Bessie Washington         Laura Esping*
Mason Mueller             Nathan R. Stenberg                             


Director  James A. Williams
Assistant Director           Roxane Battle
Dramaturg   Stephanie Lein Walseth                    
Disability Consultant       MacGregor Arney                        
Lighting Designer           Thomas Barrett                             
Costume Designer          Amber Brown                           
Scenery and Property Designer     Michael Burden                             
Sound Designer             Katharine Horowitz                     
Stage Manager             Kenji Shoemaker              

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States, appearing under a Special Appearance Contract.

Established in 2014, Full Circle Theater is dedicated to producing heartfelt, groundbreaking theater that artfully addresses issues of human nature and social justice. Their production of Under This Roof was part of the 2017–2018 Dowling Studio Season.

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A groundbreaking initiative

Through the Level Nine Series, we’ve devoted our ninth floor to access for all and the creation of theater that wrestles with urgent questions and inspires dialogue. 

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