Church & State

How religion, guns, and social media influence our political system.

Three days before his bid for re-election in North Carolina, a Republican U.S. senator makes an off-the-cuff comment to a blogger that calls into question the senator’s belief in God. As his devoutly Christian wife and liberal Jewish campaign manager try to contain the damage, this look at how religion, guns, and social media influence our political system is simultaneously funny, honest, heartbreaking, and uplifting.

Originally developed with Artistic Director Ralph Meranto from JCC CenterStage, Church & State had readings in D.C., NJ, and NC, as well as a reading in NYC to benefit Sandy Hook Promise. The play was then selected to be produced as a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere by The Skylight Theatre in L.A. (June 24-August 14, 2016), JCC CenterStage in Rochester, NY (Oct. 20-Nov 6, 2016), and New Jersey Rep in Long Branch, NJ prior to an Off-Broadway run in NYC in 2017.

Recently published, Church & State is slated for 10 productions across the country.

ROB NAGLE (Senator Charles Whitmore)  is a proud member of the Antaeus Theatre Company and the Troubadour Theater Company. Recent credits include the world premieres of Jason Odell Williams’ Church & State (Skylight Theatre Company), Meghan Brown’s The Kill-Or-Dies (Electric Footlights and Moving Arts), Melissa Ross’ Of Good Stock and Samuel D. Hunter’s Rest (both at South Coast Repertory), as well as James Still’s Appoggiatura at Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Other recent credits include Samuel D. Hunter’s Pocatello at Rogue Machine, Itamar Moses’ Completeness at Vs. Theatre Company, and James Joyce’s The Dead at Open Fist Theatre Company. Other theaters include Portland Center Stage, Mark Taper Forum, Old Globe Theatre, Centerstage, San Jose Repertory and Shakespeare Theatre Company. Film includes Bad Samaritan, Mother’s Day, Boost, Fishing Naked, New Year’s Eve, Life As We Know It, The Soloist, Fun With Dick and Jane, Cellular, and American Wedding. Television includes recurring roles on “Eli Stone,” “Lincoln Heights” and “Dawson’s Creek,” as well as guest appearances on “The Librarians,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “CSI,” “Criminal Minds,” “Castle,” “Major Crimes,” “NCIS,” “Mad Men,” “Cold Case,” “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” “Without A Trace,” “Everwood,” “The Guardian,” and “Buffy The Vampire Slayer.” Training: Northwestern University. Wife: Heather Allyn. Pug: Roosevelt. Geek:

NADIA BOWERS (Sara Whitmore) was most recently seen in The Way West by Mona Mansour at Labyrinth Theatre. Other credits include BROADWAY: The Farnsworth Invention, Doubt, Metamorphoses. NEW YORK: Collapse (Women’s Project), The Netflix Plays (Second Stage), Wildflower, The Delling Shore (Sundance Theater Lab), Julius Caeser (Public Theater), The Way West (Lark Theatre), Dog and Wolf (Watson Arts @ 59 E. 59), Tempest Tossed (Continuum Company), Romania. Kiss Me!?/Fuck You, Europa! (The Play Company), Eyes of the Heart (NAATCO), Doubt (Manhattan Theater Club), Not Waving (SPF), In Your Shoes (NY Fringe). REGIONAL: Chapter Two  (Bucks County Playhouse), Sideways (LaJolla Playhouse), Circle Mirror Transformation (Huntington Theatre), Tartuffe (Westport County Playhouse). FILM & TELEVISION: “The Strain” (FX), “Orange is the New Black” (Netflix), “NCIS,” “Law & Order,” “Law & Order Criminal Intent,” “Law & Order SVU,”  “The Young and The Restless,” “As The World Turns,” “All My Children,” “Non-Stop, Little Ones,” “Year of the Sublets (web series),” and “Every Dogs Day.”  

CHRISTA SCOTT-REED (Alex Klein) was most recently seen starring opposite Richard  Dreyfuss in Mark St. Germain’s Relativity at TheatreWorks. BROADWAY: The Pitmen Painters. NATIONAL TOUR: C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce. OFF-BROADWAY: The Great Divorce (Fellowship for Performing Arts); The Talls (world premiere, Second Stage); The Freedom of the City (Irish Repertory Theatre); Celebration and The Room, The Bald Soprano and the Lesson, (Atlantic Theater Company); Beasley’s Christmas Party, Museum, Pullman Car Hiawatha (Keen Company); Deathbed (world premiere, McGinn-Cazale); Marion Bridge (Urban Stages); The Voysey Inheritance (Mint Theater Company). REGIONAL THEATRE: On Golden Pond (with Keir Dullea, Bucks County  Playhouse); Argonautika and Honour (with Kathleen Chalfant, Berkeley Rep);  Restoration Comedy and The Food Chain (The Old Globe); The Little Dog Laughed (Intiman Theatre); As You Like It, Crimes of the Heart, and the world premiere of Charles L. Mee’s Limonade Tous les Jours (Actors Theatre of  Louisville). Other Regional: Paper Mill Playhouse, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Pioneer Theatre, Barrington Stage, Syracuse Stage, Denver Center, Cleveland Playhouse, and more. FILM & TV: “30 Rock,” “The Impossibilities,” “Eden,” “Gossip Girl,” “666 Park Avenue,” “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Love Life,” “New Amsterdam,” “As the World Turns.”

JONATHAN LOUIS DENT (Tom/Marshall) is a New York based actor and writer. Jonathan appeared in Sons of the Prophet at the Roundabout Theatre. Regional: Romeo and Juliet (Hartford Stage Company), Sons of the Prophet (The Huntington Theater Company), The Good Negro (Company One), The Etymology of Bird (The Providence Black Repertory Company). Jonathan wrote and performed in The Broken Record, which won an award for Best Overall Play at the 2015 International New York Fringe Festival. Credits at NYU include Free Man of Color and Describe the Night (Rajiv Joseph world premiere). TV: “Elementary.” Training: NYU Grad Acting.

MARKUS POTTER (director) is a NYC-based director and the producing artistic director of NewYorkRep, which is dedicated to developing and producing new plays and musicals. Recent directing: Stalking the Bogeyman off-Broadway at New World Stages (Outer Critics Circle Award nomination, NY Times Critics Pick), Lost Boy Found In Whole Foods by Tammy Ryan at The Portland Stage Company, Why You Beasting by David Don Miller (Best of FringeNYC – transferred to the Players Theatre off-Broadway), North Carolina Stage Company, Pasadena Playhouse, Luna Stage. As an actor: Guthrie Theatre, Long Wharf, American Conservatory Theatre, Berkeley Rep, San Francisco Shakespeare, Cherry Lane Theatre, Tour of Death of a Salesman with Christopher Lloyd, Studio Theatre DC, Denver Center. MFA: Columbia University, Proud SDC member,,

JASON ODELL WILLIAMS (playwright) is an Emmy® Award-nominated writer and producer (“Brain Games“) as well as an award-winning playwright, novelist and screenwriter. His latest play, Church & State will be produced as a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere this year at The Skylight Theatre in L.A., JCC CenterStage in Rochester, NY and NJ Rep in Long Branch, NJ. His play Handle With Care (published by Dramatists Play Service) ran for over 100 performances Off-Broadway and has been produced 18 times in the last five years in the U.S. and Canada. The play was a New York Times Critics’ Pick where they raved, “Mr. Williams has achieved something special: He has written a hilarious and heartwarming romantic comedy…which exudes gobs of comic energy and insight.” His other plays have been produced or developed at NC Stage, the cell, the DR2, Primary Stages, The Blank Theatre, The Lark, and EST. Jason’s first novel, Personal Statement, was optioned for a three-picture deal and he is currently adapting it for the screen with his wife and collaborator Charlotte Cohn. Their TV script, Birdland, was a Top 10 Finalist in The Tracking Board’s 2015 Pilot Competition. More at

CHARLOTTE COHN (producer) was born in Denmark and raised in Israel where she served in the Israeli Army as a Commanding Officer. She is a founding producer of the New York Music Theatre Festival (NYMF) and Mainstreet Musicals. Other producing credits include: Baltimore in Black and White (the Cell Theater), Rated P for Parenthood, The New York Times Critics’ Pick Handle With Care (both at the Westside Theater Off-Broadway), and the upcoming Church & State. Charlotte has collaborated with her husband Jason Odell Williams on a variety of writing projects including their screenplay Personal Statement (optioned by former Miramax executive Steve Hutensky) and their TV pilot Birdland, which was a Top Ten Finalist in the Tracking Board’s 2015 Launch Pad Pilot Competition. Charlotte’s screenplay By the Book was also a finalist in the NYWIFT 2015 competition, sponsored by Meryl Streep.

BRIERPATCH PRODUCTIONS (General Management) is the partnership of Laura Janik Cronin and Scott Newsome providing general management services for theatrical productions, tours and events. Current and previous productions include: Cagney the Musical; One Funny Mother; Dan and Phil: The Amazing Tour Is Not On Fire; Phoenix; Handle With Care; Grounded; Tennessee Williams’ The Two Character Play; Inner Voices III & IV; Sleeping Rough; Triassic Parq; 7th Monarch; Rest In Pieces; Wallenberg; Tales From The Tunnel; Glimpses of The Moon; The Actors’ Studio Drama School MFA Repertory Season (2011 – current). Under Development: The Stone Witch (World Premiere at Berkshire Theatre Group summer 2016).

WOJCIK | SEAY CASTING (Casting Director) is Scott Wojcik & Gayle Seay. Along with Holly Buczek they cast all mediums. Tours: Vocalosity, Flashdance, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Jekyll & Hyde (National & Korean), Joseph…Dreamcoat, Oklahoma! and A Chorus Line. Off- Broadway includes: Tennessee Williams’ The Two Character Play with Amanda Plummer and Brad Dourif, Handle With Care with Carol Lawrence, Triassic Parq, 666 and more. Regional: Multiple seasons/shows for Riverside Theatre-FL, Arvada Center – CO, The Engeman Theatre – NY, Theatre Raleigh-NC, Stages St Louis-MO, Theatre Aspen-CO and Tuacahn PAC-UT. Pilots: “Upstate” and “Stand – In.” Films: Best Man In The Dark, Tommy Battles The Silver Sea Dragon, My Prologue. Webseries: “The Fuzz.” Currently: “The Hunt” with John Walsh on CNN.

NEWYORKREP/THE TELLING COMPANY (Producer) is an award-winning company committed to telling innovative stories that inspire and compel social change. Recent productions include Stalking The Bogeyman at New World Stages (Outer Critics Circle Award Nomination for New American Play, NYtimes Critics pick).,

Press for Church & State (National Reading)

SPECTRUM 1 NEWS, 2/15/19
FEATURED ARTICLE/ VIDEO COVERAGE: “Parkland Shooting Victims’ Memories Honored Through UCLA Production”

TV NEWS SEGMENT: “Elon University Play Commemorates Victims, Survivors of Parkland School Shooting”

FEATURE: “The UCLA School of Theater, Film And Television’s Department of theater Presents Church & State”

NEWS FEATURE: “Elon freshman directs play about gun violence one year after Parkland shooting”

FOX8 TV, NC, 2/14/19
TV NEWS SEGMENT: “Elon student who survived Stoneman Douglas massacre pushing for change through art”

PIX11 NEWS AT 10PM, 2/14/19
TV NEWS SEGMENT: Jason Odell Williams, Gayle Waxenberg, and participating students in the Church & State reading series marking the 1-year anniversary of the Parkland shooting.

Click to view and download this segment as it aired at 10:47PM.

TV NEWS SEGMENT: “Elon University Play Commemorates Victims, Survivors of Parkland School Shooting”

PHOTOS OF READING: “PHOTOS: Reading of “Church & State” to commemorate Parkland”

CBS2 NEWS, WFMY TV, 02/14/19
TV NEWS SEGMENT: “Elon Student, Marjory Stoneman Douglas Alum Discusss One-Year Since Parkland Shooting”

WXII12, 02/13/19
TV NEWS SEGMENT:”Elon student who survived mass shooting in Florida remembering victims by directing play”

PLAYBILL, 2/11/19
NEWS FEATURE: “Free Reading of Jason Odell Williams’ Church & State Will Be Presented at UCLA – The February 14 reading is one of several to commemorate the anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.”

NEWS FEATURE: ” The UCLA School Of Theater, Film And Television’s Department Of Theater Presents CURCH & STATE”

TRIBLIVE, 2/11/19
CHURCH & STATE FEATURE: “Point Park will host free reading of ‘Church & State’ on Parkland shooting anniversary”

NEWS FEATURE: “UCLA TFT to commemorate the Parkland Shooting with staged reading of the play “Church & State”- Free performance on Feb. 14 will be followed panel discussion about gun violence”

Pickup from this source:
SNEWSI, 2/11/19

NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT: “Church & State Nationwide Readings Will Commemorate Parkland Shooting”

NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT: “NewYorkRep & The Brady Center Present CHURCH & STATE Throughout The US To Commemorate The Parkland Shooting”


Times Square Chronicles
“Definitely on my list for one of the best plays of the year”

Front Row Center
“Packs surprising philosophical punch”


Jason Odell Williams’ CHURCH & STATE Begins Tomorrow Off-Broadway

CHURCH & STATE To Have New York Premiere In March 2017

National New Play Network
NNPN Announces Church & State as its 60th Rolling World Premiere

Broadway World
Interview with Jason Odell Williams


Los Angeles Times
“Proudly propagandistic, ‘Church & State,’…offers a didactic political message in the theatrical tradition of ‘Waiting for Lefty”

Arts is L.A.
“A mesmeric production of a captivating, thought-provoking new play”
“…brightly intelligent and often hilariously on-target script, it is deserving of high praise!
“If Williams’ exceptional play does nothing else, let’s hope it makes its point and sparks further desperately needed debate.”
“Brilliant…impassioned… dazzling…spectacular… takes our breath away!”

Huffington Post
“Church and State will be heading East soon as it makes its well deserved journey across country.”
“A powerful, often humorous, and highly contemporary piece”
“The play has several surprises, four fascinating characters, and so many lines that resonate.”

Edge Media Network
“Every now and again a brilliant play comes your way, strong enough to knock you off your complacent ledge, inspiring social and political change within you, and entertaining us like not much you’ve ever seen before. Such is the world premiere of ‘Church & State.”
“You must not skip this production of a timely drama reflecting the times we live in and see acted out daily.”

Stage Scene L.A.
“A powerful, thought-provoking, button-pushing ‘gun-control comedy’ (that’s right, comedy!) WOW!”

Stage Raw
“Williams’ timely political drama…truly is flawless and sweeps us to a stirring catharsis! Oh, how satisfying it is to watch!

L.A. Theatre Bites
“Funny, human, devastating, brave and powerful… [With] very clear characters and tight writing, Church & State speaks to the lunacy of modern politics. ”

L.A. Splash
“A timely and thought-provoking piece of entertainment…”
“Williams has taken some highly controversial issues and framed them in very personal and often amusing ways.”
“The humor and the pain coalesce, just as they often do in real life.”

Beachcomber Newspaper
“When a play is performed that touches our emotions while broaching the struggles of our era, it becomes a sort of prayer. So it is with the marvelous new play by Jason Odell Williams, ‘Church & State.’”
“…As timely as the nightly news, and just as troubling….”
“For those who are devoted to theater that is absorbing, relevant and controversial ‘Church & State’ is a show for you.”

“A pinpoint production… Stellar, engaging…Superb!”

Santa Monica Daily Press
“Keep your eye on playwright Jason Odell Williams. If he keeps writing plays as extraordinary and impassioned as his latest play, ‘Church and State,’ he may in time be hailed as this country’s newest Eugene O’Neill. Powerful… real… amazing, impeccable… flawless… exquisite.”


Huffington Post
Top Ten 2016 L.A. Theatre Productions

TimeOut Los Angeles
5 Must-See Theatre Productions

Hollywood Revealed
Interview with Jason Odell Williams

Off-Broadway Awards

Los Angeles Awards

Nominated for 3 Ovation Awards
– Best Production of a Play (Intimate Theatre)
– Playwriting for an Original Play
– Lead Actor in a Play (Rob Nagle)

The Newtown Lawsuit and the Moral Work of Gun Control

1/01/2015 By Adam Gopnik The news that the parents of the children massacred two years ago in Sandy Hook, near Newtown, Connecticut, by a young man with a Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle, were undertaking a lawsuit against the gun manufacturer was at once encouraging and terribly discouraging. The encouraging part is that those parents, suffering from…

The NRA Pissed Off the Wrong Nerd Genius

August 26, 2014 By CLIFF SCHECTER   Somewhere in a large glass tower in Northern Virginia, there’s a guy who runs guns with a French name having a bad day. With good reason. It was reported Monday that Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder and incredibly wealthy guy, and with his wife, Melinda, have given $1 million to Initiative 594 in…

The N.R.A. Versus Michael Bloomberg

August 21, 2014 By FRANCIS X. CLINES   As they say in the old shoot-‘em-up westerns, the National Rifle Association is calling out Michael Bloomberg. “Hey, Bloomberg! Keep your politics in New York,” commands the gun lobby’s expensive new ad campaign attacking the former mayor and chief antagonist of the N.R.A., who can hold his…

Children At Gunplay

July 5 By The New York Times Editorial Board An estimated one-third of American children live in homes with firearms, according to public health research, and 43 percent of these homes have at least one unlocked firearm lying about as an invitation to accidental mayhem. The inevitable results are appalling. Federal data says that between…

The Politics and Profits of Gun Violence — Follow the Money

April 30, 2014 By John Rosenthal From The Huffington Post “Everyone in business knows there’s good money and bad money. A fair interest rate and a patient investor is far better than a usury rate and a short term loan with a big balloon payment. Unfortunately in politics, where most elected officials “have a price”…