Tai Verley —Submitted Photo

Even before she got to college, New York-born Tai Verley had her heart set on becoming a doctor or psychologist.

But while attending Vassar, a friend invited her to audition for a play she was directing. “The play was ‘The Buried Child’ by Sam Shepard, and I found I enjoyed the experience so much more than studying math and science.”

So wanting to give her newfound interest a chance to develop, Verley next moved on to grad school at The New School for Drama, eventually earning her M.F.A. in Acting.

“While there I decided to study the Lee Strasberg method of acting, thinking that if I could master that even a tiny bit more than the things I had learned at Vassar, then I might be able to begin to understand how theater could become a part of my life,” she explains.

Eventually, theater did become an integral and important part of her life. Moving to Philly when her husband’s job brought him back to his hometown, Verley began showing her acting skills in many local theaters, including the Arden Theatre Company, the Delaware Shakespeare Festival, the Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, and more.

She says that Philadelphia theater generally “feels inventive and explorative, and I have been challenged in ways that I have never been challenged before by the community and the pieces I’ve been given to do.”

And now that Shakespeare in Clark Park is back again in full swing, Verley is making her debut with the group in “Pericles: Prince of Tyre.” The outdoor presentation, which begins at 7 p.m. and continues through Aug. 1, is free and open to the public.

According to Verley, who plays Gower and “another role which is a secret,” the story starts with an innocent riddle. But when clever Pericles uncovers the horrifying truth, he flees the land of Antioch and sets in motion an adventure full of love, peril and perseverance that reverberates across three nations.

Of course, like most everyone else, the pandemic hit Verley hard, causing her to lose several acting jobs that were already scheduled. So she says she spent much of the pandemic directing pieces for academic institutions like Villanova and Arcadia University.

“I feel as though it opened up a window to something that I had wanted to do but couldn’t find the time to do, which is not to say that I didn’t miss acting and being on stage.”

But now that she’s back to acting, she says the best part is “being back with people, which we haven’t been able to do for such a long time. That’s absolutely amazing. The hugs and the companionship is now greatly appreciated.”

In addition to her onstage appearances, Verley is currently the Artistic Director for Revolution Shakespeare (RevShakes), a small theatre company in Philly hoping to deconstruct and adapt the Bard’s work.

“For the future, we hope to include more people who were not included originally when performing Shakespeare’s works,” Verley concludes. “To be honest, I’m excited to see a change in the Philadelphia theater community. I’d like to see us diversify, and really become engaged in bringing the LGBTQ community, as an example, into our plays, and not just use the norm that has been going on for the last hundreds of years. So that’s what I’m most excited to see in the future.”

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.