LaNeshe Miller-White sets the stage for an exciting week in local theatre

LaNeshe Miller-White
LaNeshe Miller-White
Wide Eyed Studios

Philadelphia’s LaNeshe Miller-White wears two hats, both of which she’ll don prominently in November.

Hired to lead Theatre Philadelphia as executive director just as the pandemic struck, Miller-White is making up for lost time away from actors and stages this week. Theatre Philadelphia will host its artists and audiences’ event, ‘A Celebration 2022‘ on Nov. 7 at North Philly’s Fallser Club. And her West Philly-based Theatre in the X company—which Miller-White co-founded and is also the co-artistic director — commences its 2022/2023 season on Nov 10. with ‘Pac and Biggie are Dead‘. Directed by Carlo Campbell and assisted directed by Walter DeShields, ‘Pac and Biggie’ is co-produced with Drexel University and will play out on the stage of Mandell Theater at 3220 Chestnut Street.

 

Theatre in the X

“The engines are running,” says Miller-White. “And now, there are many more moves towards inclusivity than there has been in the past. Especially say, a new program, such as Philly Theater Week, where we can highlight huge swaths of theater that this city’s many diverse theater companies present – from one person shows in a basement to productions unfurling at the Kimmel.”

Having programs that allow all-shapes and sizes of theatrical production, discourse and conversation for “every different type of audience member” is what Theatre Philadelphia is all about.

“We’re getting further into that reality,” says Miller-White.

The theatre community will have an opportunity to gather, talk and drink about such matters on Monday, Nov. 7 during ‘A Celebration’. Hosted by drag local Eric Jaffe with performances by Jenna Newtonback, the entirety of the event is geared around “breathing the same air” as one another beyond the two years+ of virtual programming and meet-ups.

Theatre in the X’ s co-founder with Miller-White, Carlo Campbell, says that Theatre Philadelphia helps gives local artists and audiences a “goal” to reach and a place in which to cohabitate.

“We get to consort with our friends and associates, and hear stories about what they’re doing and where they’re coming from,” says Campbell.

Theater in the X was formed in 2013 in an effort to serve the community surrounding West Philadelphia’s Malcolm X Park between 51st and 52nd streets and Pine and Larchwood streets.

“Carlo said that we should do a show in the park for the people, our neighbors,” says Miller-White of Theater in the X’s origin story. “So we did…. and what was intended to be a one-off kept happening because people in the neighborhood continued to ask what we were doing next and when. And then again after that.”

Campbell says that, “going forward with Theater in the X, we can be more intrepid and brave.”

Where it is going, intrepidly and bravely, in November comes courtesy of playwright Biko Eisen-Martin’sPac and Biggie are Dead’, a dramatic, musical work that was one of Theater in the X’s earliest in its staged reading series.

“Many of our productions have come from reading but ‘Pac and Biggie’ was among out first,” says Campbell of a work that looks at the lives of hip hop legends Tupac Shakur and Christopher “The Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace.

When Drexel University asked to collaborate with Theater in the X, Campbell and Miller-White put forth ‘Pac and Biggie are Dead’ as the perfect vehicle for what Campbell calls their company’s “aesthetic ideas, goals and desires toward original vision – the dreams of the people that come from the area that we come from, the place that we serve.”

Of Theater in the X, and what it’s done since its start is simple: “People liked it and it became a thing that we could keep doing,” she says. “So we’re kept doing it and we’re still going, making accessible community theater for young and old.”

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