The Osaze Project is a dramatic play based on perspectives surrounding the death of Osaze Osagie. Adapted for Zoom, the plot is a series of local interviews by an outside news reporter.
In 2019 Osagie, 29, was shot fatally by a State College police officer serving him a mental health warrant.
I like that the on-camera production afforded The Osaze Project a documentary style. It incorporates real-life footage and documented accounts surrounding Osagie and his death.
The Project might not appeal to a lay audience with no connection to, or affinity for, State College or Penn State. However, the ironies that have broader appeal were either not referenced or not emphasized.
Osagie's parents, for example, are both professors of the town's beloved university. His mother, a professor emeritus, was teaching on the other side of the country when she learned of his death. Osagie's father, whose call prompted the warrant, trained the department that later delayed notifying him of the shooting. And Osagie, apparently a devout Christian who walked in his faith, was shot twice in the back in his new apartment.
Whatever the limitations, acting wasn't one of them. Herb Newsome, depicting Osaze's father, performed both monologue and dialogue in the professor's Nigerian accent. His eyes furrowed in anguish and his lips quivered as he fought back tears with language that personified Osaze beyond his schizophrenia and autism. Wilson Hutton, depicting the police chief, was no less convincing. Even in the chief's silence or restraint, he wasted no blink of an eye or stir in his seat during each and every line of dialogue with Newsome.
Ultimately, The Osaze Project offers a voice to the deceased Osaze Osagie and a depiction of the shooting officer whose identity remains concealed.
A review of The Osaze Project (Charles Dumas).
Note: Charles Dumas directed the production of No Place to be Somebody that I saw in 2013.
Related: Wrongful Death Lawsuit (2021)
Related: "No Place to be Somebody" (2019)
Related: "Enchanted Island" (2021)
Related: Public Intellectuals (2019)