Ernie Lijoi’s ‘The God Cluster’ premieres at Portland’s OUTwright Theatre Festival

Playwright Ernie Lijoi’s new play The God Cluster: a Queer pandemic revenge tragedy, premiering at the 10th Anniversary of the Fuse Theatre Ensemble’s OUTwright Theatre Festival in Portland, Oregon, asks the question What if the plague is the cure?

Inspired by two years of working in a COVID ICU, Ernie Lijoi’s new play, The God Cluster, follows three medical professionals in a vaccine development laboratory during a new pandemic in a near and likely future.

The main character, Dr. Lee, a neurologist, enraged by a history of queer trauma at the hands of religious people and emboldened by an impending climate apocalypse ignored by theistic governments, makes a choice in the name of the greater good that leads to personal and global tragedy… or perhaps salvation. Part fever dream, part prognosis, The God Cluster asks us to reconsider in whose hands we put our lives.

OUTwright Theatre Festival
Cast of The God Cluster; (From left) Rusty Tennant, Tonya Jone Miller & Alexandria Hunter. Photo credit: Greg Parkinson

CW: religious trauma, abuse, murder, medical consent.

The God Cluster is directed by Directed by Melory J. Mirashrafi and stars Fuse Theatre Ensemble’s Artistic Director Rusty Tennant as Howard, Alexandria Hunter as Dr. Nasir and Tonya Jone Miller as Dr. Lee. It will run from May 27 to June 26 (Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm and Sundays at 3pm) at The Back Door Theatre in Portland.

Visit www.fusetheatreensemble.com for more info and to reserve seats. There is no charge to reserve tickets.
Visit fusetheatreensemble.com/the-outwright-festival for more information about the festival, including a list of other shows.


Fuse is celebrating over 13 years of producing paradigm shifting theatre in Portland, OR, and around the world. The recipient of six 2019 Drammy Awards, Fuse has become a stalwart of socially motivated theatre in the Portland community. Fuse is the recipient of the 2020 Miller Foundation Grant, 2019 Collins Foundation Grant, 2019 Regional Arts and Culture Council Project Grant, 2019 MCCC grant, 2017 Regional Arts and Culture Council Arts Equity Grant, and 2007 Regional Arts and Culture Council Project Grant. They have traveled the world with their production of Suburban Tribe, won Drammy Awards for their productions of Cabaret, Tether: ADHD+BDSM, and Under the Influence and for their props design for Artist Rep’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore.

Fuse has been an ambassador of the Pacific Northwest theatre touring to New Orleans, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Bali, Adelaide, Australia, and Avignon, France. In less than a decade, Fuse has fostered the creation of 18 original works [Craft/Craeft/Kraft, Slap That Bitch, Suburban Tribe, MySp_ce, #smarter_than_phones, Karaoke Night! (the musical), A Virgin in Neverland, (…), Sonnetscape, Under the Influence, Tether: ADHD+BDSM, The Importance of being Frank, I am an Actress: a Passion Play, unde+ec+able, Book of J, The Fear of Speaking, The Queers, and The God Cluster: a Queer pandemic revenge tragedy] while also producing Portland’s annual celebration of the LGBTQIA+ contribution to theatre, The OUTwright Theatre Festival.


In 2011, Portland-based Fuse Theatre Ensemble produced the Gay Pride Reading Series. After immense popular demand, Fuse rebranded it in 2012 as the much more ambitious and inclusive OUTwright Theatre Festival. OUTwright’s 2018 production of Cabaret garnered 11 Portland Area Theatre Alliance Drammy Nominations and took home six awards including Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical and Outstanding Production of a Musical. In 2016, OUTwright’s production of Under the Influence, by Ernie Lijoi, won the Drammy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Actor.

Along with reconnecting us with classic LGBTQIA+ texts, OUTwright has paved the way for numerous scripts to receive fully staged productions at theatres across the world. This year’s Feature Production is The God Cluster, by Portland’s own Ernie Lijoi. 2019 Reading Series hit The Queers received a full production in 2022 becoming the first play written by a trans woman featuring a trans ensemble performed on Porland stages. 2014’s Animals Commit Suicide and 2017’s Oso Fabuloso, by festival favorite C. Julian Jiménez, have received full productions across the country. 2015’s workshop of How to be a Sissy, by Brian Haimbach, was selected to perform at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

OUTwright holds firm the belief that there is no greater canon of the LGBTQIA+ civil rights experience than the theatre. Our hope is to educate future generations on the struggles and successes of our predecessors by sharing these stories, both new and old, while also engaging our audiences in numerous outreach programs by providing workshops, panel discussions, and artistic opportunities.

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Kyle Jackson

Kyle Jackson (He/Him) is Senior Staff Writer at Gray Jones Media, and additionally works as a writer, editor and theatre artist/actor. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, he studied at Dillard University, received a BA in Theatre from Morgan State University, an MS in Arts Administration from Drexel University, and completed the British American Drama Academy’s Midsummer in Oxford Programme in 2017. Having lived in Baltimore, the Washington, DC area, Philadelphia and New York City, he now resides and works in London, United Kingdom.