James Ijames

Playwright + Performer



“Many emotions vie for dominance among the young men living in limbo in “Kill Move Paradise,” the bleak and beautiful new drama by James Ijames...

Kill Move Paradise is a singularly affecting contribution to a niche genre of theater that often comes across as labored and contrived. I mean plays set in an afterlife where the deceased see their time on earth through the prism of eternity.

Jean-Paul Sartre’s “No Exit” is probably the best known (and best) of these. But even it has a gimmicky, “gotcha” quality associated with “Twilight Zone” episodes, concluding with the epigrammatic exclamation point that “hell is just other people.”

Mr. Ijames’s play has no sense of an ending, or of resolution. It takes place in a nightmare of history, in which events are repeated, fugue-like, into eternity. (In this sense, the early work of Suzan-Lori Parks comes to mind.)" - Ben Brantley for the New York Times

"If there is such a thing as “Black Lives Matter Theatre”—I suspect such a category will become coherent soon, if it isn’t already—then James Ijames’ Kill Move Paradise is certain to be a key work.

As the program notes, the piece is “atmospheric and expressionistic”; those desiring a straightforward narrative about police shootings won’t get that here. But in this, Kill Move Paradise is a direct descendant of theatre during the Civil Rights era: the poetry, repetition, and non-naturalism in Ijames’ script is reminiscent of the experimental techniques pioneered by Amiri Baraka, Adrienne Kennedy, and other playwrights of the Black Arts Movement, artists who eschewed naturalistic traditions for alternative kinds of storytelling. Indeed, this is yet one more way that Kill Move Paradise practices the message it preaches—that we must “remember what happened in order to move on.”- Dan Deniro for Theatre Is Easy



"Ijames has created a piece in which every expectation (internal and external) and stereotype gets turned inside out. Also, it’s hilarious, and not just in a jokes-that-land way (though it’s also that) but in a smart, Diana-Ross-appears-as-some-version-of-Tony-Kushner’s-Avenging-Angel way."

"Without saying any of it outright, Ijames’s script calls to mind Sarah Baartman; tourists taking selfies in front of Kara Walker’s massive sculpture, A Subtlety; Beyoncé; and other representations of black women in art, media, and life." - Wendy Rosenfield for Broad Street Review

"WHITE is pure gold.

James Ijames’ audacious and hilarious new play takes on racism, sexism, and a handful of other isms. It’s a comedy, but its message is serious. It’s bold, outlandish, insightful, and as exciting a play as you’re likely to see this year."- Tim Dunleavy for DC Metro Theater Arts

"Much of James Ijames’ new play, receiving its world premiere at Theatre Horizon in Norristown, unspools as a sharp examination of white privilege, especially as it pertains to creation, representation, and exhibition in the art world. But thanks to skillful writing and one of the most perfectly executed red herrings I’ve ever seen, WHITE morphs into possibly the strongest theatrical statement on the commodification of black bodies since Suzan-Lori Parks’ Venus."- Camron Kelsall for Phindie

"White bursts with humor, which director Malika Oyetimein and this cast exploit for huge laughs, the best of which come at the expense of the institutionalization of art and its current fascination with trends like intersectionality and buzzwords like problematizeinterrogate, and hegemony.

The ending adds a surreal twist, driving home Ijames’ exploration of black women’s exploitation by feminism, by contemporary culture, and by white women."- Jim Ritter Philadelphia Inquirer

Moon Man Walk

Photo by Plate3 Photography

Photo by Plate3 Photography

"In short, there's a lot of talk about "new work" in theater and opera in this town, but Moon Man Walk provides the kind of artistic quality that the Philadelphia arts community needs to not only achieve with new works but invest in." - Bryan Butler for Philadelphia Magazine

"Moon Man is also specifically about space in the form of a family story — a well-meaning fiction, really — that Monarch’s mother told him to explain his absent father. He was, she explains, part of the first moon mission — and was accidentally left behind when the rest of the astronauts returned to earth. The story is both sweet and sad, which is the characteristic tone of Ijames’ writing. The stranded moon man is the play’s best and most original idea, and it brings out Ijames’ loveliest work." - David Anthony Fox for Philadelphia City Paper

THe Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of MIz Martha Washington

"Ijames lets his imagination loose with Miz Martha." The result is a skewered history that, like satire through the ages, has the ring of truth, far more thought-provoking than the questionable truths on the Internet." by Howard Shapiro for Newsworks

"In The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington, Philadelphia actor-playwright James Ijames has crafted a superbly written, emotionally compelling, and morally challenging play...

...We are never made comfortable in the world of this play, which looks dead-on at America's original sin. It challenges by chasing down the guilt of all involved, even the most hallowed and revered of founders. This exceptional new work will have legs to run on for as long as America exists." Jim Rutter for The Philadelphia Inquirer

"The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington is theatrical discovery of the best kind—a terrific script not to be missed..."- John Stoltenberg for DC Metro Theater Arts