By Chisa Hutchinson

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Tino is a 12-year old boy in one of Newark’s public schools. Picked on by fellow students for his studiousness and love of reading the Bible and harassed by his aunt who became his guardian after the violent death of his mother, he befriends Bernadette, the school lunch lady who doesn’t like kids. When Bernadette’s life is threatened, Tino teams up with Deja, a young girl in his school, to lend a hand. This unlikely trio shows us how empathy and love can make a difference in the face of impossible odds.

Writers Theatre of New Jersey is proud to open its 2017-2018 season with the National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere of Surely Goodness and Mercy by Newark, New Jersey playwright, Chisa Hutchinson.  We commissioned the play from Chisa last year as part of the New Jersey Stage Exchange program with the New Jersey Theatre Alliance and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.  This NNPN Rolling World Premiere will see the play produced in Newark, NJ at Writers Theatre of New Jersey; in Salt Lake City, UT at the Salt Lake Acting Company, and in Chicago, IL at Redtwist Theatre.  (For more information, please visit

Chisa captures the world she saw around her as she was growing up – racism, abuse, poverty, but also hope, love, and angels in everyday dress who protect those around them.  As Ms. Hutchinson says, “Think about it. How else would folks who live under tough circumstances survive if we weren’t there for each other? Just because our generosity doesn’t get our name on a building doesn’t mean it doesn’t make a difference.”

People familiar with Newark will recognize landmarks and organizations mentioned in the play and the issues discussed in it, like the lack of access to healthcare, the struggles of stand-out students in underfunded urban schools, and the difficulties in taking care of someone with a debilitating illness can be understood and appreciated by anyone who watches the play.

Prompted by the subject matter, Writers Theatre of New Jersey Artistic Director, John Pietrowski, chose to produce the play in Newark instead of in Madison, where the theatre is based.  Rodney Gilbert, another Newark resident, will direct the play and most of the cast members also hail from Newark.  As Mr. Gilbert explains, his connection to Newark adds a personal dimension to his involvement with the play: “I’m excited to be able to bring to this piece my experience as a native of Newark. It is my hope to bring authenticity to the warmth that the city and the characters exude.”

This play was originally commissioned by the NJPAC Stage Exchange, a program of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center – John Schreiber, President & CEO, and Writers Theatre of New Jersey, in partnership with the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.

“As part of the NJPAC Stage Exchange, we were able to commission this beautiful play by Ms. Hutchinson,” said John Pietrowski, Artistic Director of Writers Theatre. “And with the help of the Newark Community, we are able to present it in Newark and integrate the play with other projects we run in town. We hope everyone will come and share in this amazing piece of writing.”



“Surely Goodness and Mercy” opens Friday, September 29 at 8:00 PM and will run through October 14.

Performance times are as follows:

Thursdays at 7:30 PM, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, and Sunday matinees at 4 PM.  Student matinees are offered on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10 AM.



General Admission – $25

Senior Citizens – $20

Students with valid student ID – $10

The two Thursday shows are “pay what you can” evenings.

Click here to purchase tickets or, for group tickets, please call our box office at 973-514-1787, x31.


(Note:  There will be a 2 PM matinee on Saturday, October 14.  There is no performance on Saturday, September 30.  The play is suitable for ages 15 and older.)


Performances will be held at Newark Symphony Hall, located at 1020 Broad St. in Newark, New Jersey.  And be sure to check out other events at Newark Symphony Hall!