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One West Philadelphia park was transformed into a fairytale last weekend.
Local troupe Theatre in the X staged the world premiere of The Beast of Nubia on Aug. 4 at at Malcolm X Park. The play tells the story of a bygone land, where fantastical creatures interact with characters who are actually very relatable.
As the theater company described it:
In the deserts of ancient Nubia there is a magical kingdom guarded by a monstrous beast. When a merchant wrongs the beast his eldest daughter agrees to sacrifice herself in his place. What follows is a grand adventure filled with romance and excitement, as two very different people learn to cope with one another.
Written by Jonathan Bethea and directed by Steve Wright, the show features live drumming by percussionist Karen Smith, African-inspired music composed by Dwayne Allistair, and unique costumes influenced by the African Diaspora by Mo’Tiff Designs — all of which added up to an intensely spiritual spectacle that melds art, history and emotion.
It’s the kind of thing Theatre in the X was born to do.
Founded by Walter DeDhields, LaNeshe Miller-White and Carlo Campbell in 2013, Theatre in the X provides opportunities to actors, directors, and playwrights of color to create professional-level theater experiences accessible to the African-American community at large. Last year the group put on a much-acclaimed production of The Wiz.
This year they went with something original. The full cast for Beast of Nubia includes Niya Colbert, Carlo Campbell, Walter DeShields, Richard Bradford, Tasha Holmes, Janae Rockemore, Eric Carter, Ruth Oliver, Mark Christie, Charvez Grant, Kim Robinson and Joan Coates.
Two more performances will follow on Sunday Aug. 11 and 18, both at 5 p.m. Be sure to BYOC (bring your own chair) and come hungry for local food vendors, like West Philly favorite Atiya Ola’s Spirit First Foods.
Here’s 20 photos that capture some of the spiritual, colorful beauty of the night.