Tenderness: An Anti-Capitalist Cyberpunk Experience
Logo Artwork by Odin Amador

About the Show

At the dawn of a new swine flu pandemic, Lemon Lymes is a retired pop star and aspiring fascist looking to collaborate on a secret project with an adoring fan. Meanwhile, three Queerdos are planning for their uncertain futures as artificial intelligence renders their jobs obsolete. When a parasocial Lymes fan takes things too far and billionaire industries begin to collapse, the queerdos have to outsmart the state and keep their loved ones cared for. Tenderness is an anticapitalist cyberpunk experience you can enjoy from the comfort of your home computer or the theatre.

Written by Nelle Tankus (she/her) & Co-Directed by Grace Carmack (they/them) and E. Pike (they/them)


February 9 – 17, 2024 at 7:30 pm

PWYC Performances:
Preview on Thursday, February 8
Performance on Thursday, February 15

Masks are required for all patrons in lobby, lounge, and auditorium as well as performers (when not onstage).

Livestream Performances:
February 8 – 10, 16-17


MACHINE WHO IS (they/them) – Emily Fortuna (they/them)
Lemon Lymes (she/her) – Ronan Pirkle (they/he)
Shawn (he/him) – Drew Combs (he/him)
Silverfish (they/them) – Kasper Cergol (he/him)
Chel (she/her) – Somto Muo (she/her)
Marlot (he/him) – Fox Whitney (he/him)
Naomi (she/her) – Janet Holloway Thomas (they/them)

Three queerdos with popcorn in theatre seats in shock and awe
Naomi (Janet Holloway Thomas), Shawn (Drew Combs), and Chel (Somto Muo). Photo by Laura Johnston.

Design Team & Crew

Stage Manager – Sophia Tuell
Asst. Stage Manager/Costume Designer – Monty Rozema
Scenic Designer – Emily Sershon
Projection and Sound Designer/Video Editor – Max Irvine
Lighting/Projection Designer – Jeremy Moisson
Projection/Digital Artwork Designer – Kevin Bates
Sound Designer/Film Editor – Jackie Shepard (ABSRDST)
Director of Photography – Zenaida Rose Smith
Videographer – Robert Speewack Bojorquez
Intimacy Coach – Rebecca Tourino Collinsworth
Choreographer – Vlada Kremenović
Lighting Tech – Lina Gold

Marketing Team

Marketing & Social Media – Catherine Blake Smith
Poster Artwork – Odin Amador
Photographer – Laura Johnston

Special Thanks

Hillary Branyik, Alexei Cifrese, Megan Ingalls, Jean-Luc, Pamala Mijatov, Nancy Nipples & Place Market Creamery, NWTheatre.org, PNTA, Sam Ro, Randy Rogers, Ed Sershon, Cody Smith

LEMON LYMES – Escape the Night 🍋💚

Playwright & Directors’ Notes

We, the cast and creative team of Tenderness, fully support Palestine.

We support Palestinian life, land, and resistance to the genocidal settler colony of so-called Israel by any means necessary. We reject the liberal Zionist narrative of both sides having merit when there is a clear dynamic of a white nuclear ethnostate attempting to eradicate Indigenous Palestinians with the financial support of the United States. As of writing this, at least twenty seven thousand Palestinians in Gaza have been murdered by the Israeli state since October 7th 2023, and this does not count those lost in the nearly eighty years long occupation.

We demand an immediate and permanent ceasefire. We demand an end to the occupation. We assert the right for Palestinians to define justice, liberation, and return on their own terms. We support the movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions [BDS] and all actions being taken to disrupt the flow of money and goods that funds Israeli Apartheid.

For more information on BDS, visit bdsmovement.net.

Once you have perceived that life is very cruel, the only response is to live with as much humanity, humour and freedom as you can.

Sarah Kane

…one must find a major field of action for human inertia,
the worker must have something to keep him busy,
new fields of activity must be created,
in which we shall see at last the reign
of all the fake manufactured products,
of all the vile synthetic substitutes
in which beautiful real nature has no part…

Antonin Artaud

I think A.I. is great. I just feel like, creatively, I think A.I. can replace humans.


Cast & Crew Bios

Playwright – Nelle Tankus

Nelle Tankus (she/her) is a playwright & performer whose work explores queerness, the absurd, and metamorphosis. Her full-length work has been seen in Seattle at 12th Avenue Arts (The Untitled Play About Art School, dir. L. Nicol Cabe), The Umbrella Project (Slack Water, dir. QuiQui Dominguez), and Parley Productions (Yom Kippur, dir. Rebecca Tourino Collinsworth). Her shorter works have been seen most recently at 12 Minutes Max, Parley, and MirrorStage. She loves grindcore, black licorice, and diet Dr. Pepper. She is based in Seattle.

Director – Grace Carmack

Grace Carmack was born in a cornfield and fled the Midwest to pursue a BFA in Theater at Cornish College of the Arts. They began with Annex as an actor ten years ago and prior to the societal collapse of 2020 they directed a stage play turned radio play at Annex called One Horse Town by Minna Lee. Working on Tenderness has been a wonderful challenge for them and they stand in complete awe of the other artists who laid hands on this show. Special shout out to E Pike for almost 15 years of art and friendship and to Nelle for bringing everyone into the world of her writing.

Director – Emily Pike

 Emily Pike slithered out of a lake in Massachusetts in 2010 to earn a degree in Acting from Cornish College, and they have spent the last decade primarily devoted to the development of new work—most often with Annex and Parley Productions. They performed onstage in their first four productions with Annex (Scary Mary, Silhouette, Sarah Blackwater, and Battle Crow Radio). Tenderness marks their debut as a director with the company. It is impossible to overstate the joy they’ve experienced collaborating with some of their dearest, oldest friends to bring it to life. They are so grateful to Nelle for the inspiring challenge this script offered. And they are brimming with love for Grace for implausibly, miraculously, organically sharing an overlapping vision for this strange show with them. The next one’s gonna be even weirder.

Chel – Somto Muo

Somtochukwu is a Nigerian born, Florida grown actress and theatre educator. She is also a Pre-K teacher at a wonderful school in Fremont. Before joining the cast of Tenderness she portrayed Alice in Rainy Day Artistic Collective’s production of Dorothy, Alice, Wendy, Mary: Grown. And before that she portrayed Coretta Scott King in a Hugo House production of The Kings Go South. Somtochukwu started doing theatre competitively at eleven years old and since then she has portrayed: Arista (The Little Mermaid), Fiona (Shrek), Rebel Reba (Urinetown the Musical), Tituba (The Crucible), M’Lynn (Steel Magnolias), Turtle (A Year with Frog and Toad). You can catch her as Rose Schneiderman and Kate Alterman this April in RDAC’s production of The Triangle Factory Fire Project. Somtochukwu has a degree in Theatre and is currently pursuing a degree in early childhood education. She is excited to bring this production to life and hopes the audience enjoys it as much as she does.

Naomi – Janet Holloway Thomas

10: C:// run_biography
20:<!DOCTYPE bio>; {#disp:</b/ Name= “Janet Holloway-Thomas”>; <Pronoun= “they/them”>}
30: _fetch= {Acting_history_Seattle.db:2009-2024}
40: run ThankFamily&Friends&Partners.exe 
50: enjoy_show!

Shawn – Drew Combs

drew david combs is an actor, poet, and playwright based in Seattle. He has been a proud member of Parley writing group since 2017 and is delighted to present his colleague Nelle’s work. Favorite onstage credits include Joshua in the Intiman’s John Baxter is a Switch Hitter, Anton in Parley’s Anton, and Luke in Theater of Possibility’s Love Letters. Love to EP, always. Enjoy the show!

Lemon Lymes – Ronan Pirkle

Ronan is a Seattle based actor and alumnus of the University of Washington’s School of Drama. Previous credits include Lily/Facilitator in Deep Purple Wiggle at Theatre Battery and Lexi in Hookman with UW’s Undergraduate Theatre Society.

Silverfish – Kasper Cergol

Tenderness is Kasper Cergol’s second Seattle play after his debut role in All New Cells last year. Kasper is particularly excited to have the opportunity to play a character as large and unique as Silverfish! He studied audio production at Towson University with a focus in public radio. His future plans include more theatre, live figure modeling (come see him at Blue Cone Studios in May!), and taking afternoon floor naps with his cat. His creative endeavors can be followed on Instagram @kaspercergol.

Marlot – Fox Whitney

Fox Whitney is a performance maker, visual artist, musician, filmmaker, actor and dancer. He is also a writer and a teaching artist with a passion for queer and transgender art history, improvisation, yoga and meditation. Fox’s queer + transgender point of view is at the heart of the band Light Aloud started in 2023 and his interdisciplinary performance project Gender Tender founded in 2012. Light Aloud and GT engage a team of artists trained in Fox’s unique methods modeled on visual art practices, cults, riots and QT history. Fox’s work has been commissioned and produced by the Henry Art Gallery, On the Boards, Velocity Dance Center, the Seattle Art Fair, the Frye Art Museum and Seattle’s Gay City Arts.

MACHINE WHO IS – Emily Fortuna

Emily cannot imagine a better play with which to make their Annex Theatre debut than Tenderness. Some past ways they have been a Regular Human Actor around town include Wazzer in The Monstrous Regiment (Latitude Theater), Jenny Sunshine in Truth Like the Sun (Book-It Repertory Theatre), Thea Elvsted in Hedda Gabler (Harlequin Theatre), South in Codename: Kansas (Copious Love), and Nina Sheinberg in LAPD, Serious Murders Unit (Ghost Light). In addition to human impersonation, they confirm humanity and prove they are not a robot through improv comedy, successfully identifying which pictures in the CAPTCHA contain bridges or motorcycles, increasing view counts of cat videos, and having a completely normal fascination with plants.

Scenic Designer – Emily Sershon

Sershon graduated with a theatre degree from the University of Washington by accident. They have been working on shows at Annex in various roles since 2008, first joining the team as props designer for S2. Some of their favorite scenic design credits include Do It For Umma and Team of Heroes: No More Heroes with Annex Theatre. Their most recent credit pre-pandemic was The Angel in the House at Cafe Nordo.

Projection and Sound Designer/Video Editor – Max Irvine

Max Irvine is a Seattle based audio engineer and musician. This is his third production as sound designer at Annex, having previously worked on One Horse Town and Battle Crow Radio. Tenderness marks his debut as video editor, and he’s been so thrilled to take on the new artistic challenge. His background is primarily in live sound reinforcement and studio recording. He is also a vocalist and pianist, and you can catch him performing around the city with Rap Ghost (@rapghostmusic). When he’s not making weird noises or stumbling through Adobe Premiere, he sells books at BLMF @ Pike Place Market Sundays and Mondays, and helps run a music rehearsal space in SoDo. Until he was like, 10 years old, he would only eat chicken nuggets, which is crazy if you think about it. That’s a lot of chicken nuggets. He’s doing better now. Still loves those nugs though. RATS ROCK!!

Stage Manager – Sophia Tuell

Sophie Tuell is a freelance theatre artist from California and a recent graduate from Western Washington University. They are excited to be making their Seattle theatre debut with Annex Theater. Their previous stage management credits include Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Wit, Clean House, and How Sweet the Sound with Bellingham Theatreworks; Sugar: A Cabaret with American Theater Northwest; Henry V, An American Daughter, 27 Ways to Say Goodbye, and Snapshot with Western Washington University. Sophie would like to thank Grace and Emily for picking them up from a soggy box off the side of the road and inviting them to join the wonderful Tenderness team. Embrace destiny!

Assistant Stage Manager / Costume Designer – Monty Rozema

Monty Rozema is a queer multidisciplinary artist born and raised in Seattle, WA. They enjoy working with young people, reading, writing, and developing daring new performance art with their friends and community. Favorite behind-the-scenes/design credits include Good Water (NOW Theatre), Our Dear Dead Drug Lord (Washington Ensemble Theatre), Arlington (Washington Ensemble Theatre), Invincible Ones (WWU).

Director of Photography – Zenaida Rose Smith

Zenaida Rose Smith (she/her) is a freelance producer, director, and actor championing local and Global Majority artists. She is Production Manager at ArtsWest, a staff member at 18th & Union, and a Producer with MAP Theatre. Directing credits include Bloodletting (Pork Filled Productions); Matt and Ben (ArtsWest); adaptations of Koala Lou by Mem Fox, Maybe and Trying by Kobi Yamada (Book-It Arts Education Tours); Three Screams by Vincent Delaney and a white haunting by Brian Dang (MAP Theatre). Ever grateful to Robert, Emily, Grace, and Nelle.

Videographer – Robert Speewack Bojorquez

Robert Bojorquez is a Mexican-American Seattle filmmaker, podcast producer, and creative project manager. His credits include work for brands like Google, Microsoft, XBOX, ODESZA, and Wizards Of The Coast, as well as national award-winning independent short films and music videos. When not managing art projects at Electric Coffin and House of Sorcery, he makes short films with his 48-Hour Film Project team, Diet Mug Root Beer Films, and searches the world for the best happy hour nachos and the nicest smells. He runs Seattle’s 1st podcast network, Partyfish Media, and is on the Board of Directors for NFFTY (National Film Festival for Talented Youth, the world’s largest film festival for young filmmakers. In his spare time he enjoys waving at dogs, bringing fresh guac to the party, and listening to records.  

Intimacy Coach – Rebecca Tourino Collinsworth

Rebecca Tourino Collinsworth is a Seattle-based playwright and director. As a teaching artist, she’s worked with Claire Trevor School of the Arts, Alliance Theater, NYFA, Seattle University, and SMU; she also spent several years working with prisoners at the Washington Correctional Center for Women as part of the Engaged Theater Residency. Her plays have been produced in NYC, LA, and Seattle; she is the co-book writer (with Evynne Hollens) of Mija: A New Musical (2023 NAMT Festival of New Musicals); and the director of the feature-length Psyche and Cupid: A Puppet Film. Rebecca is the creator and Managing Artistic Director of Parley, through which she has developed, directed, and produced more than 80 world premieres by underrepresented writers in the last decade, and the co-editor of Parley Lit, a literary magazine. B.A. English, UC Berkeley; M.A. Acting, UC Irvine; Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts.