Local Artist Profiles

Nine profiles of local artists



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Compassion Play

“So shines a good deed in a naughty world.” Shakespeare’s timeless line from The Merchant of Venice seems to invoke what one Shakespearean group in Detroit has been doing recently. The organization, founded by Detroiter Samantha White, educates, entertains, and comforts audiences by performing vignettes from some of the Bard’s famous plays.

White, a Wayne State University alumna, created Shakespeare in Detroit in early 2012 as a way to introduce the famous plays to Detroiters who couldn’t afford to see performances outside the city (at press time, a mid-August performance of Othello was scheduled to be held in Grand Circus Park). Three months later, she formed a spinoff, Shakespeare Against Cancer, to pay homage to her late aunt.

The troupe, made up of local volunteer actors, acts out 15-minute vignettes of classic Shakespeare plays to children receiving chemotherapy or other medical treatments. White, who directs the performances, spends three to six months cutting and editing the language to make it more accessible to kids. After the show, the group hands out Shakespeare-themed gifts, including coloring books, wands, and finger puppets.

White’s reward comes not only from dedicating the cause to her aunt, but from seeing the children’s eyes light up at performances.

Sometimes she receives a personal thank you, including one from a 2-year-old boy who walked up to her and hugged her leg.

“He said ‘thank you,’ and he just walked away,” White says. “And that, to me, was confirmation that I’m going to continue doing this.”

For more information, visit facebook.com and search for Shakespeare in Detroit and Shakespeare Against Cancer


samantha white and troupe

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