Lucky Ejim & cast in ANOTHER AFRICA. Photo by John Lauener
I'm a sucker for art with an African theme. I love it. I feel like theatre from Africa is on a different, higher plane than other theatre in the world. There is something intangible and truly special that happens in the communication between actor and audience in a performance with African artists. I can't explain it, but I always leave a show performed by Africans feeling like I've seen something special.
It was the same for the Canadian Stage remount of ANOTHER AFRICA, featuring two plays from the trilogy originally produced by Volcano Theatre during the 2010 Luminato Festival.
The first play , SHINE IN YOUR EYE, is set in Lagos, Nigera and is performed by an all-black cast. This performance had the richness and natural charisma that I love so much in African-based theatre. The actors were completely comfortable on stage, in a way that isn't seen often in Western theatre and I was immediately engaged.
The second play, PEGGY PICKIT SEES THE FACE OF GOD, is set in an unnamed Western city and is performed by an all-white cast. This play, while much funnier than the first and features abundantly talented actors, ultimately lost me in the storyline.
I love stories about the continent of Africa that talk about the often-not-talked-about facets of the country, and both of these plays did that. Each was vastly different from the other with a unique perspective, and each was thought provoking and illuminating.
This kind of theatre, the kind where the subject, actors and direction are outside the box of the standard fare we Torontonians see, is special. It's rare and it should be rewarded with packed houses and thunderous applause. I hope they get it.
ANOTHR AFRICA is on now until Oct. 22 at the Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front St. E.). For tix visit: canadianstage.com