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International Partners To Launch Virtual Performance Of The World Premiere Of BECOMING OTHELLO: A Black Girl's Journey

The performance will be streamed on Zoom, Monday, December 14th at 7:00pm.

International Partners To Launch Virtual Performance Of The World Premiere Of BECOMING OTHELLO: A Black Girl's Journey

The Harlem Shakespeare Festival in partnership with The National Arts Club is pleased to announce the World Premiere of BECOMING OTHELLO: A Black Girl's Journey, a solo, multimedia theatrical performance recorded live at The Center at West Park and streamed on Zoom, Monday, December 14th at 7:00pm. This filmed theatrical performance is created and performed by Debra Ann Byrd, the internationally recognized Artistic Director of Harlem Shakespeare Festival and directed by Tina Packer, the acclaimed Shakespearean and Founding Artistic Director of Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA. Smart, thoughtful and transformative, BECOMING OTHELLO: A Black Girl's Journey is a living memoir of Byrd's trials and triumphs with race and the opportunity to perform classical work. There will be a post-performance conversation about the show and the issues of love, loss, race, gender and equity. BECOMING OTHELLO commemorates the 8th Anniversary of the Harlem Shakespeare Festival, a subsidiary of Voza Rivers/New Heritage Theatre Group.

Described as a living memoir, BECOMING OTHELLO: A Black Girl's Journey is a multimedia theatrical production with lyrical language, soulful songs and the music that shaped the life of a resilient little girl growing up in Spanish Harlem. This choreo-poem chronicles the life of classical actress, Debra Ann Byrd. The solo show flows from Debra Ann's recounting of her ancestral lineage to her arrival at a crossroad in life, while taking us through her joy-filled and tumultuous youth; a fateful encounter with a company of Shakespearean actors and her remarkable, gender-flipped journey on the road to becoming Othello. We share in Debra Ann's struggle with self-esteem and how, against all odds, she manages to make it through foster care, teenage pregnancy and single parenting, to become the person she always dreamed she could be. It is a deeply personal, poignant and powerful story of perseverance, tragedy, triumph and ultimately, unconditional love.

BECOMING OTHELLO: A Black Girl's Journey was created in a writing workshop with Tanya Taylor Rubinstein and developed at the Harlem Shakespeare Festival (Harlem, NY), the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (Stratford-upon-Avon, UK), University of Warwick (Coventry, UK), Folger Shakespeare Library (Washington, DC), Columbia University (New York, NY), Southwest Shakespeare Company (Mesa, AZ) and Shakespeare & Company (Lenox, MA).

BECOMING OTHELLO's creative and media production teams include Dyane Harvey-Salaam Director of Movement, David D. Wright Sound Design, Melody Beal Light Design, Gail Cooper-Hecht Costume Design, Norman Anthony Small Associate Producer/ Director Production, Jacqueline Jeffries Associate Producer, LaZette McCants COVID-19 Safety Officer/Craft Services, Lia Chang Production Photographer, and Dathan B. Williams, Natalie Clarke, and Tom Martin Production Assistants. Filmmakers Craig T. Williams, Roderick Giles and their teams filmed BECOMING OTHELLO: A Black Girl's Journey at The Center at West Park in New York. Executive Producers of BECOMING OTHELLO are New Heritage Films and Machicote Glennbrooke Productions, with editing and post-production by Red Wall Productions.

DEBRA ANN BYRD is an award winning classically trained actress and producer who recently was named Writer-in-Residence at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the University of Warwick, Artist-in-Residence Fellow at the Folger Institute, an A'Lelia Bundles Community Scholar at Columbia University, a Virtual Artist in Residence at The Center at West Park, and Artist-in-Residence at Southwest Shakespeare Company (where she recently reprised the role of Othello, winning her the 2019 Broadway World Phoenix Award for Best Lead Actress). She is the Founding Artistic Director of the Harlem Shakespeare Festival and an emerging playwright, who is currently represented by her new solo show BECOMING OTHELLO: A Black Girl's Journey. As the Founder and Producing Artistic Director of Take Wing And Soar Productions and the Harlem Shakespeare Festival, she guided the company's growth from its birth as the passionate dream of one determined woman, into a viable support organization serving classical artists of color and theater arts groups throughout New York. Debra Ann trained at Marymount Manhattan College, The Public Theater's Shakespeare Lab, Shakespeare & Company, and The Broadway League's Commercial Theatre Institute. Previous Shakespeare roles include Queen Elizabeth (Richard III), Volumnia (Coriolanus), Winter (Love's Labors Lost), Hippolyta (A Midsummer Night's Dream), Cleopatra (Antony & Cleopatra), Othello (The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice), Marc Antony (Julius Caesar).

The world premiere will also feature the following events:

December 9 @ 7:00pm: Panel discussion 2 -- 6 Female Othellos. 5 Monologues. 5 Questions. Moderated by AZ Humanities Executive Director Brenda Thomson. Panelists from across the nation include Fran Bennett (1994); Marishka S. Phillips (2004); Debra Ann Byrd (2013); Jennifer Lanier (2018); Annitha Kontyo (2018); & Phedre N'Goua (2019), who will share their thoughts, feelings and varied experiences of playing Shakespeare's OTHELLO.


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