The assassination of Malcolm X—both the story we think we know and illuminating details that have seldom been shared—is brought to vivid, lyrical life in award-winning writer Marcus Gardley’s new play. Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar provides a framework for Gardley to deepen our understanding of one of America’s most complex, compelling historical figures and explore the tumultuous landscape of ideology and activism in the 1960s. 

VIDEO INTERVIEW with Marcus Gardley (Playwright) and Ian Belknap (Artistic Director of The Acting Company). 

Marcus and Ian speak about newly commissioned play X: Or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation based on the life and assassination of Malcolm X, as it compares to William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
Created at Arizona State University Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, School of Film, Dance and Theatre


Marcus Gardley is a multiple award-winning poet and playwright from West Oakland, California whose short play Desire Quenched by Touch premiered in The Acting Company’s Off-Broadway production of Desire. The New Yorker describes Gardley as “the heir to Garcia Lorca, Pirandello and Tennessee Williams.” When his play The House That Will Not Stand was produced (Berkeley Rep, Yale Rep, Tricycle Theater in London), Gardley received the 2014 Glickman Award and was a finalist for the 2015 Kennedy Prize. He was the 2013 USA James Baldwin Fellow and the 2011 PEN Laura Pels Award winner for mid-career playwright. His play The Gospel of Loving Kindness (Victory Gardens Theater) won the 2014 BTAA award for best play/playwright. Every Tongue Confess (Arena Stage starring Phylicia Rashad, directed by Kenny Leon) was the recipient of the Edgerton New Play Award and was nominated for the Steinberg New Play Award, the Charles MacArthur Award for Best Play. His musical On The Levee (Lincoln Center) was nominated for 11 Audelco Awards including outstanding playwright. Gardley holds an MFA from the Yale School of Drama and is a member of New Dramatists, The Dramatists Guild and the Lark Play Development Center.

Ian Belknap, The Acting Company’s Artistic Director, brings  this new work to life, having previously directed The Acting Company’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Hamlet, The Comedy of Errors and John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. He most recently helmed Love’s Labour’s Lost (NYU) and The Millionairess (Resident Ensemble Players, University of Delaware). Ian has associate produced six Acting Company tours and received an honorary alumnus award from Towson University where he graduated summa cum laude.

WATCH VIDEO Short interview with Marcus Gardley on The New Victory Website.

Major production support for Marcus Gardley’s X: Or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation is provided by The Roy Cockrum Foundation.