Archikulture Digest
Becoming Othello: A Black Girl’s Journey

Becoming Othello: A Black Girl’s Journey

Created by performed by Debra Ann Byrd

Debra Byrd grew up in the ‘hood and fought her way out. Her story remains a classic: a man impregnates her and leaves. A mom struggles and raises the family as best she can, and the cycle repeats. Sometimes there’s a small job, a welfare check, but never a man that sticks around. At best, there is a cycle of poverty and abandonment, at worst, starvation. All the good intention and public dollars don’t solve the problem: guys look for new turf to plow, women harvest the results and live in poverty until an early death.

Tonight, Ms. Byrd leads us down that path, but she ends up in a better place. She falls into the cauldron of theater and becomes consumed with powerful gripping drama that expresses itself through Shakespear’es Othello. Can a 500-year-old dead white male change her situation? Damn square he can.

Debra Ann Byrd
Hubert Williams
Debra Ann Byrd

In this high-energy, one-woman story, we hear it all: rape, poverty, abandonment, and well-intentioned government programs. These are mere band-aids, and no actual analysis reveals where all this pain and misery flows from. But Debra Ann finds a grasping point. She scrapes up an all-female Shakespeare troop, puts up her story in Central Park, N.Y.C., and blows the roof off the show. But more importantly, Shakespeare opens her world to a salvation — and it isn’t through prayer and obedience, rather she is saved by steel and blood and an attitude that screams “We’re not gonna take it!”

It worked for Quiet Riot, and it works for Debra Ann. You might give it a try yourself. ◼

Orlando Shakes


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