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Delaware Shakespeare Community Tour • “The Merchant of Venice”

7pm, Oct. 26, 2018

Christina Cultural Arts Center

Wilfredo “Freddy” Amill was a sophomore at Arcadia University when a friend first introduced him to David Stradley, the producing artistic director of Delaware Shakespeare. A couple years later, when Freddy was a senior, David called and asked if he’d be interested in auditioning for Delaware Shakespeare’s 2018 Community Tour. (“And I was, like, that would be amazing,” Freddy says.) Now, just months out of school, Freddy is the youngest of nine professional actors touring Delaware with a production of “The Merchant of Venice,” Shakespeare’s story about the corrosive impact of anti-Semitism, a message that became all the more timely after the tragic killing of 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last weekend. We caught up with Freddy at the beginning of this week to ask about the tour, but talk turned quickly to how the cast is dealing with the news. (The Community Tour continues through Nov. 18 with more locations near Market, including two ticketed studio performances at OperaDelaware Studios on Nov. 17 and 18.)

“I'm from North Philly, born and raised. I started acting at the end of my senior year of high school. It was around the time that the school district was making budget cuts, but I was fortunate enough to have a teacher come to the school and say, hey, I teach English and drama and social science and all these other things. So in the middle of all those budget cuts, he got a job.”

“I was living with my aunt and my uncle at the time and they told me I didn't have to go to college, but I did have to have a plan. So I was like, okay, I love working with kids. I love performing. I'm going to switch into this drama class and see if it fits. And I ended up getting into Arcadia University.”

“For me, the Community Tour is one of the best things I can imagine people doing in theater – creating a beautiful piece of work and moving it from place to place to meet people where they are. I know how that makes them comfortable and helps them open up. The night we performed at Christina Cultural Arts Center, we had some beautiful responses to some of the questions after the show. Someone brought up the point of the how Portia went from not having any power or control over life to having all the power in a room, and they talked about what that does to a person, and in what ways that we need to find balance. I think that was really beautiful.”

“Personally I got really emotional when we heard the news about Pittsburgh. Eleven people people lost their lives. They are no longer among us. Thinking about the impact that might have on their families – I know what that feels like because like I've gone through that before, losing family members. These people were in a place that they felt safe and they weren't at the time because someone decided that it was upon them to put out this message of hate.”

“So it hurt. It makes me feel like I'm on a beach and I need to move the beach from one side to the other and I'm using a spoon to move the sand. And we just had this conversation on Saturday with people inside Howard R. Young Correctional Institution who were responding about how we need to be more open-minded, we need to be more understanding, and you feel like you're making some progress and then … to hear something like this, it was just really hard.”

“The play is the play and what we're doing is going to be the same, but I think this gives us a little more drive with like more motivation. It’s a big wake-up call that hey, this is now, this is happening now, remember this is happening now. So there are stakes. The message that we're trying to relay, you know, is critiquing society and critiquing those anti-Semitic thoughts and hopefully planting seeds so that we all can become better people. It's so needed at a time like this, to just spread some peace, love and positivity and try to educate others to see how the mistreatment of people can lead to more mistreatment of other people, and trying to step away from that so that we can all, you know, be better.”

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