The Niceties

Artwork by Andréa Agosto

“Bristling & Provocative” – New York Times

THE NICETIES by Eleanor Burgess

Directed by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg

with Deja Fields and Mouchette van Helsdingen

Set in an elite East Coast university, The Niceties features an ambitious young Black student and her esteemed white professor who meet to discuss a paper the college junior is writing about the American Revolution. They’re both liberal. They’re both women. They’re both brilliant. But very quickly they’re in dangerous territory – and facing stunning implications that can’t be undone.

The Niceties Program

The Playwright

Portrait of Eleanor Burgess

Eleanor Burgess studied History at Yale College and completed an M.F.A in Dramatic Writing at Tisch School of the Arts. Her work was produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club, McCarter Theatre Center, Huntington Theatre Company, the Alliance Theatre, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, the Contemporary American Theater Festival, Portland Stage Company, and Centenary Stage. Also she developed new works with The New Group, New York Theatre Workshop, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Salt Lake Acting Company, the Lark Play Development Center, and the Kennedy Center/NNPN M.F.A. Playwrights Workshop.

The events in The Niceties, her most popular work, are based on her own experiences as an undergraduate student at Yale in 2015, surrounding the campus conversation around cultural appropriation. The Niceties opened Off-Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club in 2018 to stellar reviews, and has since been produced at multiple theater companies across the country, including the Huntington Theatre Company and the Geffen Playhouse. 

Of her work, Burgess says: “I write to understand things, I write about things that confuse me, I write about things that trouble me, topics where I really thought I knew what I believed and then someone said something that shook me down to my core and all of sudden I realize that maybe I don’t know what I believe.”

The Director

Portrait of Delicia Turner Sonnenberg

Delicia Turner Sonnenberg is one of the founders and the founding Artistic Director of MOXIE Theatre, which she helmed for 12 acclaimed seasons, receiving The Des McAnuff New Visions Award for “Risk Taking Leadership and Body of Work” and “2015 Director of the Year” from the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle. She has also directed plays for Actors Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival, San Diego REP, The Old Globe Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Cygnet Theatre, New Village Arts, Diversionary Theatre and Playwrights Project. Some honors include: Theatre Communications Group’s New Generations Program, San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Awards, Women’s International Living Legacy Award, Van Lier Fund Fellowship (Second Stage Theatre) and the New York Drama League’s Directors Project.

The Cast

Portrait photo of Deja Fields

Deja Fields (Zoe) majored in Musical Theatre and graduated with her Bachelor of Arts 2019 from UCLA’s Theatre Film and Television program. This San Diego native is passionate about her work and has had the privilege of working at various theatre companies throughout San Diego including the San Diego Repertory Theatre, MOXIE Theatre, and lastly The Old Globe. She specializes in Mezzo-Belting Vocal techniques, Acting, Dance, and seeks to use her voice as a tool to share and create new and innovative stories many are afraid to tell.

Portrait photo of Mouchette van Helsdingen

Mouchette van Helsdingen (Janine). During these challenging times, Mouchette is beyond grateful to the MOXIE Theatre for the opportunity to be part of this amazing play. She is a member of the Ruskin Theatre in Santa Monica, where she recently appeared in a new comedy, Bad Habits, starring the late Orson Bean. Other productions include The Mousetrap and The Importance of Being Earnest at the Crown City Theatre, and The Gun and Rainbow Bridge at the Ruskin Theatre. Born in Amsterdam, she studied drama at the Kleinkunst Akademie, and continued her education at The Drama Studio in London.

| Sep 17* – Oct 4

Only ONE Ticket needed per household – even if multiple people are watching!

Regular price: $35

Discounts: We are offering a limited number of $15 tickets available 1 hour before each performance for anyone who is facing financial hardship. To purchase a discounted ticket use code RUSH15 at check-out. Code only valid 1 hour before the show, first come first served.

Can’t afford $15 right now? We hear that. 10 free tickets are set aside for every performance and are available upon request for those who need them most. If that’s you, contact 24 hours in advance of the performance you would like to see to request yours.

For any question or to purhase tickets over the phone, please contact (858) 598 7620 or email

Thu, Fri, Sat @ 7 pm
Sundays @ 2 pm

The show will be recorded on MOXIE’s stage and streamed on Zoom.

Performances will include pre- and post-show live content, as well as a clip from the documentary about making theatre during the time of COVID19.

*Postponed from original Opening Date of Sep 12.

All Female and non-binary  Design and Production Team:

Assistant Director Vanessa Duron

Stage Manager Beonica Bullard

Scenic Designer Julie Lorenz

Costume Designer Faith James

Lighting Designer Cynthia Bloodgood

Sound Designer Mason Pilevsky

Properties Designer Angelica Ynfante


This show is made possible by the generous support of:

In collaboration with:

San Diego Commission on the Status of Women and Girls

Women’s Museum of California

Women’s Studies Department, SDSU,