Members of the community had an opportunity to enjoy the second of two plays performed by a newly formed theater group, Theater in the X, on Saturday at Malcolm X Memorial Park in West Philadelphia.
The play, “A Black Mass,” written by Amiri Baraka, was directed by Christina May. The audience was moved to visible responses ranging from audible gasps to moments of laughter throughout the play.
Baset, who played the role of the beast in the play, described the outdoor performance as “freedom.”
“The notion is that you can have a creative idea and become so obsessed with it that you create something that you didn’t have in mind or haven’t planned,” Baset said.
Baset, who has been acting with Theater in The X since its inception and has been acting for 15 years, said as soon as she heard about the theater company she contacted its organizers.
“Theater in the X is the best manifestation of what theater is about; theater is for the people, it’s for the public,” she said.
Carlo Campbell, who played the part of Jacoub, is one of the three curators for the theater company and said it has been a joy to work with his colleagues.
“It’s just been a joy and a roller coaster ride of dope awesomeness,” Campbell said. “I was so scared but that’s why I knew I had to do it. I was very, very fearful because it was inflammatory in some ways and challenging but he [Baraka] is a legend for that reason and to run away from that is to run away from your own brilliance.”
Campbell described himself as exhausted after completing his performance, which, he said, is the way it’s supposed to be.
“They say you are supposed to leave it all up there,” he said. This pouring out of oneself exhausts the actor who has given everything to his performance.
Campbell has been acting for 10 years and said that his colleagues at Theater in The X are extremely talented.
“It was a wonderful fellowship of all different people,” said Laneshe Miller-White.
She described the play as an inversion of the minstrelsy, which distorted the image of Black people in this country in times past.
“It challenges the idea that Black is evil and white is good and it kind of got into the inner monster that lives in all of and how we either do or don’t let that manifest,” she said.