Below is a look behind the cover of our February issue of Southwest: The Magazine by JK Nickell.
What does it mean to transform a city? The question came to mind often while working on Southwest: The Magazine’sFebruary cover story. Meaningful change is never instantaneous. Like watching kids grow up, it’s typically only when you look back that you realize how far you’ve come.
While Detroit was in the throes of bankruptcy, Sam White was busy launching a new company, an inherently risky affair. But this wasn’t your typical startup. She launched a Shakespeare company and made it her mission to galvanize her hometown. Nothing about it was conventional.
Our writer, Drew Philp, shadowed Sam as she went door-to-door to recruit an audience. She sold cherished personal items to purchase costumes. She attracted young, diverse crowds. And as part of her site-specific strategy, she staged plays in trash dumps, restaurants, and YMCAs. To reflect this innovative approach, photographer Chris Crisman captured the actors as they performed their favorite roles in some of Detroit’s most iconic locations.
But is it working? Can the Bard really save a city? I had my doubts. But in the course of talking to dozens of Detroiters, it became clear that, thanks to Sam’s tireless efforts, transformation is well under way.
Stories about people that defy the impossible are one of the things we like best around here. Check out Sam’s video to get a peek at what makes it all work. And if you happen to visit her hometown, make sure to check out Shakespeare in Detroit.
You’ll be glad you did.
Read the full story here.