Created Equal: Shakespeare in Detroit founder on equity in the arts, new Stratford Festival production

Sam White will direct “Romeo and Juliet” at the renowned Shakespeare festival in Ontario. She joined the show with Stratford’s Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino to share what attendees can expect.

Vanessa Sears (top) and Jonathan Mason will play the leading roles in “Romeo & Juliet,” running through Oct. 26 at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada.

Vanessa Sears (top) and Jonathan Mason will play the leading roles in “Romeo & Juliet,” running through Oct. 26 at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada.

One of Detroit’s very own will return to the acclaimed Stratford Festival in Ontario this year to lead a production of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

Sam White, founder, Shakespeare in Detroit.
Sam White, founder, Shakespeare in Detroit.

This is the third season at Stratford for Sam White, founding artistic and executive director of Shakespeare in Detroit. The nonprofit stages professional productions of Shakespeare’s works at sites throughout the city, in both traditional and non-traditional spaces.

White made her directorial debut at the Stratford Festival last season with her production of Alice Childress’sWedding Band.”

She joined Stephen Henderson on Created Equal on Thursday, along with Antoni Cimolino, artistic director of the festival, to talk about the upcoming production and diversity and equity in the arts. White also shared her experiences bringing Shakespeare in Detroit to life in America’s Blackest big city.

White’s production of “Romeo and Juliet” runs through Oct. 26. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

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Sam White is a director, educator and the founder of Shakespeare in Detroit. She compared Shakespeare’s plays to humanity, and said all people can relate to them in some way.

“No matter where you are in the world, Detroit included, we are all just trying to do the best with our humanity,” said White. “Whether it’s King Lear and those of us who have been caregivers or dealt with a sick parent before, insurance, and legacy and all that. Or if it’s Othello and you’re dealing with or coping with racism and gaslighting. Romeo and Juliet, having the freedom to [be] able to love who you want — it doesn’t matter who you’re from, what city, what town, continent, state, we all can relate to those things because they are the core of our shared humanity.”

Antoni Cimolino is an actor, director and the artistic director of the Stratford Festival in Ontario who has been with Stratford for 36 seasons. He says incorporating more people of color into Shakespeare productions at Stratford — both on and off the stage as well as in the audience — is especially important because it adds to the richness and quality of the productions.

“We are reaching out to many different communities, in as many ways as possible and in as thoughtful a way as possible,” said Cimolino. “I see that as being driven by creating better art, because if everybody in the audience comes from a different neighborhood, they are only going to laugh at certain jokes. The audience needs to be as diverse as possible, and the talent pool needs to be as diverse as possible to ensure we are developing the very best.”

Listen to Created Equal with host Stephen Henderson weekdays from 9-10 a.m. ET on 101.9 WDET and streaming on-demand.

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