Announcing a Special Staged Reading of Internal Bleeding at 14th Street Playhouse


Director Denise Burse, veteran of stage and screen, (Tyler Perry’s House of Payne and Kenny Leon’s Fences) leads a multi-talented ensemble of actors in a special staged reading of Internal Bleeding, the new play by Christine Toy Johnson, on Saturday October 6, 11:30 a.m., at the 14th Street Playhouse, 173 14th Street, Atlanta, GA 30309 (corner of 14th Street and Juniper). The reading is part of the inaugural Atlanta Black Theatre Festival, running October 4-7, 2012, at the 14th Street Playhouse and Loews Atlanta Hotel. Tickets are $15 and are available online at; by visiting the Woodruff Center box office at 1280 Peachtree Street; or by calling the Woodruff Center box office at 404-733-5000. The playwright and lead actor will conduct a talk-back immediately following the reading.


Loosely based on a true story, Internal Bleeding tells the story of an Olympics-bound gymnast who becomes estranged from his family after an accident leaves him paralyzed. A discussion with Ms. Johnson and Mr. Mitchell on re-imagining the play for an actor with a disability will follow the reading. This show is suitable for ages 12 and up.


This one-time-only staged reading boasts a knockout cast. Leading the way is Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, film and TV star who was paralyzed in 2001 in a motorcycle accident and is in a wheelchair. Mitchell continued acting and is an NAACP Image Award recipient. He’s best known for his roles as Dexter Walker on The John Larroquette Show, Leo Michaels on Veronica’s Closet, and Eli Goggins on Ed. Mitchell is an advocate for survivors of spinal cord injuries and supports survivors through the “Daryl Mitchell Foundation”, to which a portion of the play’s proceeds will be donated.

Alongside Mitchell are Atlanta-based powerhouses of stage and screen: Leslie Bellair (recently seen in Avenue Q at Horizon Theatre); Donna Biscoe (recent stage and screen credits include Sheddin’ at Horizon Theatre and TV’s Drop Dead Diva); Eugene H. Russell IV (recently seen in Georgia Shakespeare’s 2012 summer festival, and renown musician), Naima Russell (Pearl Cleage’s The Nacerima Society… Alliance Theatre); and Tony Vaughn (Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns).

Eugene H. Russell IV and Naima Russell, real-life husband and wife, play love interests in Internal Bleeding.


Playwright Christine Toy Johnson has over twenty years’ experience as a professional actor, working in all venues of the industry including Broadway, Off-Broadway, national tours, regional theatre, film, television, commercials, and concert stage. She’s also an award-winning screenwriter, playwright, published journalist and producer. Johnson is a dynamic public speaker and activist for diversity and inclusion.

Director Denise Burse is a native Atlantan and a graduate of Spelman College now living in New York City. She’s an award winning actor with several directing credits as well. Her most recent appearance was in Eisa Davis’ Angela’s Mixtape and Wendy Wasserstein’s An American Daughter, Broadway/Lincoln Center. Burse has done extensive work with Atlanta’s Kenny Leon, having performed as Rose in the inaugural production of True Colors Theatre Company, as well as performing as Mame in the pre-Broadway production of August Wilson’s finale, Radio Golf. Burse’s directing credits include: 52nd Street Project, Harlem Tabernacle Players, Harwell Summer Playhouse and Margret Fain Junior Players, and The workshop performance of Fabulous Faith the Marva Hicks Story set to Gospel music produced by Arena Stage.


Tickets are available online at; by visiting the Woodruff Center box office at 1280 Peachtree Street; or by calling the Woodruff Center box office at 404-733-5000.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Daryl Mitchell Foundation, which promotes accessibility and seeks to enhance the life of spinal cord injury survivors.

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