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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: January 10, 2017

New theater company bursts on the scene portraying Shakespeare’s misfits

Written by: Bob Keyes
Members of the cast of "The Others" rehearse a scene. Photo courtesy of Theater Ensemble of Color

Members of the cast of “The Others” rehearse a scene.
Photo courtesy of Theater Ensemble of Color

A new theater company in Portland makes its debut this week with a play about the forsaken characters from Shakespeare — the slaves, witches and infidels. The Theater Ensemble of Color presents a three-show run of “The Others” at SPACE Gallery in Portland beginning Friday night.

Carmen-Maria Mandley directs the play, which she also adapted and wrote.

“It’s all of the ostracized characters in Shakespeare, be they a bastard or a shrew or a Jew,” she said.

Producer Rene Johnson had approached Mandley about directing “Othello,” which features the first black protagonist in Western literature, but Mandley suggested casting a wider net to include more characters. “Othello would have limited the experience for some and given more experience to others, so I said, ‘Why don’t we do all of the others?’ ”

It runs about an hour, and features scenes and snippets from 11 plays. Among the 32 characters who appear on stage are Joan of Arc from “Henry VI, Part I” and the shrew, Katherina, from “The Taming of the Shrew.”

The ensemble of 10 will perform with original, live music. It is a multicultural, multi-ethnic group, between the ages of 5 and 67, and includes Bridgette Kelly, David Thete, Delaney Tucker, Dontavis Hines, Jason Cunningham, Khalil LeSaldo, Mario Roberge Reyes, Nicole Mokeme, Rodney Mashia and Russell Kaback.

The mission of the Theater Ensemble of Color – or “Tee-ock” – is to build community through education, performance and social activism that focuses on arts, culture and inclusion, said Johnson. Mandley, who has performed Shakespeare for more than two decades, is making sure that vision played out in this performance.

“For me, as a director and as an artist, to highlight the voices of those who are under-heard or under-seen and shunned is of the utmost import right now,” Mandley said. “This show couldn’t have come at a better time.”

ENSEMBLE THEATER OF COLOR’S ‘THE OTHERS’

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland
TICKETS & INFO: $15 advance, $20 at the door; 207-828-5600 or space538.org

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