The Winter’s Tale production in Clark Park is over, but more outdoor Shakespeare productions are coming to West Philly this summer. “Theatre in the X“, an artists’ collective that staged No Child… at Malcolm X Park in 2013, is presenting three free performances of Othello with an all-Black cast in the park starting Saturday, Aug. 8. The collective’s core is local theater artists Carlo Campbell, who plays Othello, Walter DeShields (Cassio) and LaNeshe Miller-White (Emilia). The play is directed by well-known director Ozzie Jones.
The play in this production is set in the criminal underworld. Campbell “is like the ‘muscle’ of the Duke of Venice’s crew,” according to Jones, while love interest Desdemona (played by Nastassja Baset) is envisioned as an underboss’ daughter. “In the language, it’s not so much race,” said Campbell, comparing the dynamic of this particular production to Will Smith visiting his wealthy uncle in California on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. “It’s this person who has this audacity to think that, from their station in life, they can be privy to rewards.”
Theatre in the X was created to provide free and accessible theater to the community, as well as provide local African American artists with acting and directing opportunities. The 2015 presentation is part of the City of Philadelphia’s Performances in Public Spaces program managed by the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy and is supported by the Leeway Foundation’s Art and Change grants. Public donations are essential, too, so if you want to chip in, please visit this page.
Performances are on three upcoming Saturdays – Aug. 8 at 5 p.m. and on Aug. 15 & 22 at 6 p.m.