Desi Shelton is a playwright, actress, director, and Founder and Artistic Director of Camden Rep, based in her hometown of Camden, NJ. Desi uses theater to preach, educate, and uplift, finding inspiration in normal day-to-day activities. Upon returning to Camden, she heard her friends and neighbors complain that they were not welcome at local university venues, that they had no artistic outlet in Camden, and that their stories were being left untold — leading Desi to found Camden Rep, attracting first-time theatergoers in the community.
In addition to producing plays, Camden Rep uses theater to improve life and literature skills of at-risk children through its P.A.C.E. (Preparing Artists for College Entrance) program, which helps students prepare for college auditions; assists with the application and financial aid process; offers supplementary education in written language, cultural, financial, emotional and social literacy; and creates jobs and apprentice training for returning college students.
Desi strongly believes in the power of playwrighting as a medium of expression. Desi is devoted to telling the story of her city and her people, and giving local artists a place to be heard and a forum to create and produce new work.
Desi P. Shelton uses humor and hypertheatricality to examine single parenthood and financial responsibility from the points of view of everyone impacted by a broken system. A mother struggling to provide. A father trying to rise above his statistical odds. A daughter desperate to be loved. Urgent, searing and wildly inventive Child Support lays out the unspoken rules of a game in which everyone loses. A site-specific, immersive experience set in a typical Camden row house, the action is scored by composer Jamal P. Dickerson and features a live band under the eye of musical director JoJo Streater. Barrymore Award-winner Ozzie Jones directs. Lead support of the commission of this work is provided by the William Penn Foundation.