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It is a joy to be back in the rehearsal hall this week directing Obaaberima, the play written and performed by Tawiah M’Carthy, with musician Kobena Aquaa Harrison. I love this show very much, and I could not be more excited that this Buddies in Bad Times production is getting a chance to go on tour, to be seen by more audiences across the country in a two week run at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, and then two weeks at the Cultch in Vancouver.
Two years ago, the show cleaned up at the Dora Mavor Moore Awards, winning the night’s top award for Outstanding Production, as well as Outstanding Sound Design / Music (Kobena Aquaa Harrison), and Outstanding Lighting Design (Michelle Ramsey), with nominations also for Outstanding Design (Camie Koo), Outstanding Director (me!), and Outstanding New Play (Tawiah).
Creating this show was a long, collaborative process that took place over several years; it began in the Young Creators Unit that I run at Buddies, and then went through a rigorous workshop and development process that took Tawiah and I on a journey together over the next two years. As an experienced creator/ performer myself, this process was a first for me as a director, to take a show from it’s original idea to full production alongside Tawiah, developing the story, the ideas and characters, along with the particular physical and musical storytelling style. It’s been an incredible journey to be on, and remounting it for tour feels like returning to an old friend – all of us on the production team are experiencing this feeling of reunion with the very special entity that is Obaaberima. There is so much beauty and humour and pain and guts inside this show: such a fierce, generous, uncompromising truth-telling.
“Obaaberima” is a word that means “girl-boy” in Twi, a Ghanaian dialect.An exploration of dual identities, Tawiah’s character finds himself caught between worlds, navigating the terrain between male and female, black and white, gay and straight, African and Canadian, prisoner and free man.
Hope you can join us at the NAC or the Cultch!