Wilmington’s New Light Theatre—launched in 2018 by Lena Mucchetti, Tom Mucchetti and Newton Buchanan—will present its first production in Delaware with William Shakespeare’s Othello, Jan. 29 through Feb. 2 at the Delaware Historical Society in downtown Wilmington.
So, why is this their first production staged in Delaware? “We’re a Delaware-based theater company, and we’ve very much wanted to perform here,” says Artistic Director Lena Mucchetti. “But performance space in Delaware has been hard to come by, particularly the size and scale we need to accommodate a musical.”
Buchanan, who also plays the lead role of Othello, agrees. “Finding space that not only fits our production and technical needs, but also is cost effective, is a challenge. We found it particularly difficult to find capable and affordable venues in Wilmington, leading us to have our shows and fundraisers outside of Delaware.”
But Othello, Mucchetti notes, is more flexible in terms of production elements, and the Delaware Historical Society’s (DHS) space affords them the intimacy they were seeking.
“That [the production’s flexibility] stoked our creativity and resourcefulness and we landed in DHS,” Buchanan says. “As a co-founder, I hope we can facilitate a larger movement for the performing arts in Wilmington or at least start the discussion about making it easier for any company to produce here while making it accessible to everyone.”
For the production, New Light is occupying DHS’ second floor Copeland Room, and Mucchetti says they’re excited to explore ways to turn a “found space” into a theatrical space.
“We’ve used DHS in the past to host theater education workshops, and we were struck by the interesting architecture in the room and cultural significance of the museum itself,” Mucchetti says.
She is also thrilled that (finally) performing in Wilmington brings the production closer to its beneficiary, the Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence (DCADV), which is based downtown.
New Light Theatre’s mission is to use each production to raise awareness and support for thematically connected charities that bring light to the darkness of the world. The theater’s inaugural production was Next to Normal, which ran for one weekend in August 2018 at the Limelight Performing Arts Center in West Chester, Pa. The sold-out run enabled the organization to provide funds for The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation as well as focus future work on that model of giving back.
“Our Othello—set in an intimate venue, with a small cast and stripped-down production elements—will more deeply explore themes of domestic abuse and toxic masculinity in the play that are still incredibly relevant in present day, while we raise support and awareness for DCADV and the resources they can provide for victims of domestic violence,” Mucchetti says.
“We’re so fortunate to partner with DCADV,” says Othello Director Allen Radway, himself a Philly-based director and actor. “Their work lends a gravity that will help guide ours, as we find our footing in a story that serves as a virtual roadmap of toxic masculinity.”
As one of Shakespeare’s most notable works, this tragedy of passion and poison finds one of his greatest romances crossing paths with one of his ultimate villains.
A victorious General Othello discovers that those who have lauded his military triumph might not approve of his marriage to a white senator’s daughter. Believing he can win over his adopted homeland through dutiful service and the love of his wife Desdemona, they depart for Cyprus. Unfortunately, this is the precise opportunity the malicious Iago needs to destroy them all.
“I’m really interested in exploring the area between absolutes in our production,” says Radway. “Shakespeare gives us so many contrasting lenses through which to view the story—light and dark, love and fear, otherness and ‘us’-ness, power and vulnerability, gender, race, moral distinctions, truth…the list goes on.
“It’s so easy to forget, in our polarized political landscape, that we do most of our living in between such absolutes.”
Othello features a cast of 11 actors from the Philadelphia and Delaware areas, including Fred Andersen, Megan Bellwoar, Newton Buchanan, Cameron DelGrosso, Elsa Kegelman, Sol Madariaga, Kevin McCann, Ryan Mikles, Lena Mucchetti, Edward Snyder and Yannick Trapman-O’Brien.
This will be Buchanan’s second time stepping into the role of Othello. “My first time around I was arguably too young to portray the general. Having lived a bit more life since then, I can already sense a difference in my interpretation,” he says.
“The Moor of Venice is a strong, complex character,” Buchanan says. “Not perfect by any means, yet important in the story of human nature, reputation, and bias/prejudice. Taking on this role is intimidating and exciting all at once—I’m honored to help tell this story.”
New Light Theatre also provides opportunities for students and emerging artists to work alongside professionals. As such, they’ve welcomed Ryan Mikles, a junior Theater major at Temple University, who is composing an original soundscape for the production.
Othello will be presented at the Delaware Historical Society, 504 N. Market St.
Tickets, ranging from $15-$20, are available at newlighttheatre.com.
This post appears courtesy of Out & About Magazine—view the original article here. Stayed tuned IN for the #inWilm review of the production!