i am sitting in a small venezuelan restaurant; just down the street from tarragon theatre. today was only a 4 hour rehearsal - an extremely short one compared to the 16-18 hour days i have been pulling (primarily due to the fact that when i finish rehearsing & performing, i go home to do another 8 hours or so of diy management work).
the first part of the day was spent doing a walk-through of benu with the trilogy musical director waleed abdulhamid and violinist laurence stevenson. the stumble through was less than magnificent but served the purpose of highlighting where the unclear areas are in the play are. benu is my favourite play of the trilogy because of it’s sweetness and gentleness. the shero of the play is sekesu, a 20 year old womban who is negotiating through her own motherlessness while she is mothering a new born. i wrote the play right around the time i was having my second son, phoenix. that time was such a sensitive and vulnerable period in my life. i look back at it with wonder and awe because there were times back then when i really thought that i was not going to see a tomorrow.
the second part of today was spent going over bits and pieces of word! sound! powah! from last night’s run. we are ready for opening, which is a day and a half away. with a 2 week preview period i have had the time to work all the characters into my body. channelling them is as simple as breathing now. it’s almost 6:30pm and i have some time to myself. my dear friend and script co-ordinator cassy just went home (she makes notes of the changes i make while rehearsing and documents them so i can review whether or not i want to keep the changes). she is not feeling well. i think she is tired from the overwhelming schedule we have had for the last 3 weeks.
it has already been three wks since coming from cape town south afrika where life is sooo different. right before leaving cape town we shot two music videos and launched them in observatory. the turnout was incredible. phenomenal really. it felt like all of cape town came to bid me farewell. i am not sure of what i am feeling right now. have you ever been in the middle of dream that is birthing itself? i have been a do-it-yourself artist from the very beginning and this trilogy has been a decade in the making.
my career as a dubpoet, a theatre artist (playwright-performer), and educator is 10 years old and i am 33 now. and i have spend a majority of that time in toronto. my arts foundation comes out of jamaica and the jamaica school of drama; mostly watching my mother (anita stewart) and the early dubpoets on jamaican stages, going to the pantomimes, and then me practicing in children’s productions at drama school in the summer-times. i was raised by a village there and i was raised by a village here. when i came to toronto at age 15 i was put directly into the fresh arts program and spent 4 years every summer in different streams of that program. back then kardinal offishal was ‘kool aid’ and we were all young and aspiring. i left toronto to go to mcgill when i was 19 and i returned when i was 22, to yet again be shaped by this city.
from amah harris’s theatre in the rough, to trey anthony’s da kink in my hair, to francis ann solomon’s lord have mercy, to african theatre ensemble’s and the girls in their sunday dresses, to bcurrent’s harriet’s daughter, to fiwi aat space, to caliban arts theatre, to nightwood theatre’s write from the hip, to buddies in bad times’s androgyne, to soulpepper’s three penny opera & three sisters, to canadian stage’s playwright residency to tarragon theatre’s the sankofa trilogy, i was raised by the village of toronto.
they have all had a hand in my mentorship. and i am thankful. all three plays of the trilogy have graced toronto stages (and beyond) in some form or other and i’ve arrived here, where i am today as an accomplished artist because toronto has always taken interest in my growth and development. i am the child who was raised by the village. tears of joy. i do indeed know what i am feeling. i am feeling blessed and humbled and loved. thank you toronto for raising me.