Theatre Exile and Theatre in the X co-produce Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over under the tutelage of Director Ozzie Jones
The only thing more auspicious than the meeting of, and equity between two beloved community-defining local theater companies – South Philadelphia’s Theatre Exile and West Philadelphia’s Theatre in the X – for playwright Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over (running June 17 – 27 at Catharine Street’s new-ish Hawthorne Park at 12th Street) is its stewardship under the direction of Ozzie Jones.
In a conversation with Jones, Theatre Exile’s Deborah Block and Theatre in the X’s LaNeshe Miller-White and me, it was revealed how natural a pairing the two Philadelphia theater companies would have “under the banner of agency and equity,” as well as how easy it was figuring out that the legendary Ozzie Jones was for the Pass Over project.
Not only because the director of the Shipley School Middle School Performing Arts program, the one-time Artistic Director of Walt Whitman Arts Center in Camden, NJ, the Hal Prince Best Director of a Musical Barrymore Awardee for directing Black Nativity, and the first African American to direct a play in Ireland in the history of the Republic for a production of Othello was one of the most talented visionary directors around. Jones’ history comes with having worked with legends in literature (Ntozake Shange and Sister Sonja Sanchez, both of whom he called goddesses) Freedom Theater’s Walter Dallas and The Roots and Schoolly D.
With all that, the Black existentialist tale of Moses and Kitch – of two men doing their thing on a street corner, recounting escape plans and dreams before meeting a stranger who picks apart and takes down their goals of a promised land – is a piece of cake. At first unsure of how to address Nwandu’s own enigmatic take on Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and the Biblical epic of Exodus story, Ozzie Jones slipped into what he called ‘George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic mode” in order to free his mind and let his – and surely an audience’s – ass to follow.
Pass Over is co-produced by Theatre Exile and Theatre in the X, stars Jared Chichester, Davon Johnson, and David Pica.