BECOMING OTHELLO A Black Girl’s JourneyWritten & Performed by Debra Ann Byrd
JULY 10 & 12
A Black Girl’s Journey
Written & Performed by Debra Ann Byrd
Directed by Tina Packer
A living memoir, BECOMING OTHELLO: A Black Girl’s Journey is a 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 one-woman theatrical drama 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.
Originally produced at Shakespeare & Company
About Debra Ann Byrd
WRITER / PERFORMER
Debra Ann is the Founding Artistic Director of the Harlem Shakespeare Festival and an award winning classically trained actress, scholar and producer who was recently named Writer-in-Residence at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Artist-in-Residence Fellow at the Folger Institute, A’Lelia Bundles Community Scholar Arts Fellow at Columbia University 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. Her classical roles for the stage include Queen Elizabeth in Richard III, The Choragos in Antigone, Mrs. Malaprop in The Rivals, Volumnia in Coriolanus, Winter in Love’s Labors Lost, Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cleopatra in Antony & Cleopatra, Othello in The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice, Marc Antony in the all-female production of Julius Caesar and Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest; the latter, for which she received Best Lead Actress and Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role nominations from AUDELCO and the NY Innovative Theatre Awards. Debra Ann received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Acting from Marymount Manhattan College and completed advanced studies at Shakespeare & Company, The Public Theater’s Shakespeare Lab and The Broadway League’s Commercial Theatre Institute.
About Tina Packer
Born in England, Tina was trained at RADA, performed in regional theatre, was an Associate Artist at the RSC, played in television series for the BBC and ITV, arrived in the U.S. in 1974. She had a Ford Foundation Travel and Study to research the visceral roots of Shakespeare’s plays, travelled to India, Israel, Italy and the U.S. She co-founded S&CO in 1978 and has worked for the Company ever since! She has directed all of Shakespeare’s plays (some of them several times), acted in eight of them (never when directing) and taught the whole canon at over thirty colleges, including Harvard, M.I.T. and NYU. At Columbia University, she taught in the M.B.A. program for four years, resulting in the publication of Power Plays: Shakespeare’s Lessons in Leadership and Management with Deming Professor John Whitney for Simon and Schuster. For Scholastic, she wrote Tales from Shakespeare, a children’s book and recipient of the Parent’s Gold Medal Award. Most recently Tina’s book Women of Will was published by Knopf and she has been performing Women of Will with Nigel Gore, in New York, Mexico, England, The Hague, China, and across the US. For S&CO acting credits include: Shirley Valentine, Molly Ivins, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Mother of the Maid; Volumnia, Gertrude, Cleopatra, and Edith Wharton several times. She’s the recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees, including the Commonwealth Award.
“Would I recommend this show? Absolutely! It is gripping, realistic, theatrical, and dynamic.”