On the fourth floor we have a soft spot for anything art-related. From galleries to performance to film to music. When its good, it makes our souls happy, creates debate and inspires us at work where we represent so many different artists.
Last week, we received an invitation to Canadian Stage‘s season opener, Another Africa. The play takes the audience through several incredibly emotional and expressive stories, which are broken down into three parts: an introductory monologue and two one-act plays.
We loved each of the one-act plays for different reasons. The first, Shine Your Eye, tells the story of Nigerian princess/computer hacker Gbene Beka, daughter of an assassinated political hero who is trying to determine if her life will continue on a Nigerian path or a Western one. The play is set at an Internet scam company in Nigeria, and uses technology, dance, music and animation to explore the impact Western and African cultures have on each other.
The powerful characters, moments of levity (especially the Soulja Boy-inspired dance routine), and insight into the other side of the “Nigerian prince” spam emails that we regularly receive were great. The difficult inner struggle that Beka goes through as the people in her life pull her towards their goals without considering what choices are best for her, is one of the most compelling parts of the story.
The second play, Peggy Pickit Sees The Face of God, explores African experiences from the cozy living room of a North American home. Two couples reunite at a dinner party, and catch up on their lives from the past six years. One couple spent time working as doctors in Africa, while the other couple stayed in North America, bought a house, and had a daughter.
The adventurous couple explains their time in Africa, while the couple who stayed at home tries to justify why they didn’t take the risk of traveling abroad and experiencing life in another country.
There’s obvious tension between everyone, which is slowly revealed by stopping the action for each character to deliver an aside directly to the audience. The scene then rewinds to an earlier place, with a new layer of meaning given to the action and dialogue as a result of the information shared. Even though this play is very different from the first, they fit together well, with Shine Your Eye providing a lot of context for the Western issues and setting of Peggy Pickit.
We walked away deep in thought and conversation about our different interpretations of each story. Exactly what we hope for.
If you haven’t seen this play yet, take the Globe and Mail’s advice: run to get tickets and see it as soon as you can. Another Africa is on stage at the Bluma Apprel theatre until Saturday, October 22. Better yet, buy online with Canadian Stage’s clever “click and save” promotion. Every day, tickets are offered for between ten and 50 per cent off. Score tickets here and thank us later.
Images courtesy of Canadian Stage and John Lauener.