"Bold and insightful theatre"
- The Toronto Star
"Completely outside of the box"
- The Globe and Mail
"Brilliantly directed and acted"
- Huffington Post
a volcano theatre production presented by canadian stage
International writing at its best and high-tech staging come together in a sharp-witted and entertaining look at the relationship between Africa and the West. Canadian Stage presents two plays from Volcano Theatre’s highly acclaimed The Africa Trilogy.
cast for shine your eye
Dienye Waboso (Gbene Beka)
Lucky Onyekachi Ejim (Naakue Chrispin Tambari)
Ordena Stephens-Thompson (Doreen)
Muoi Nene (Naijaboy)
Milton Barnes (Chorus 1)
Araya Mengesha (Chorus 2)
cast for peggy pickit sees the face of god
Kristen Thomson (Liz)
Tony Nappo (Frank)
Tom Barnett (Martin)
Maev Beaty (Carol)
about the plays
A pair of one-act plays, Another Africa is about modern Africa and its emerging relationship with the West.
These shows were part of Volcano Theatre's highly acclaimed The Africa Trilogy, the hit of last year's Luminato festival, where tickets sold out almost overnight. Here's your chance to see what the fuss was about, or - if you were lucky enough to see it last summer - to relive the magic.
The first play, Shine Your Eye, is set in an internet scam office in Nigeria (perhaps home of that pesky prince always emailing you for money). Our heroine - a young computer hacker and the daughter of an assassinated political hero - must choose between a future in Africa and one in the West.
Along the way, she and the rest of the cast explore the notion of both territory and boundaries, including those between the real and virtual worlds. Expect some truly innovative animation and projection work, as well as stellar performances from our amazing acting company.
The play's title, by the way, comes from the West African expression "Shine your eye." It means "open your eyes and see the truth."
The second play, Peggy Pickit Sees The Face of God, is about two white couples, all medical professionals, having a dinner party.
One couple goes to Africa to work in a crisis zone for six years, while the other stays home and lives a conventional Western life. Each couple envies the other, regretting both choices made and roads not taken. When they meet again, six years after making their original choices, disaster ensues.
Volcano Theatre calls Peggy Pickit "harrowing, and bitterly funny - a sort of post-colonial Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf."
q&a with the africa trilogy directors ross manson and liesl tommy
Please note: This article was originally featured in the March 11, 2010 issue of the Luminato Insider
The Africa Trilogy is an impressive international trilogy of plays co-commissioned by Luminato and the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. The Insider had a chance to catch up with two of the three directors, Ross Manson and Liesl Tommy, as they prepare for workshop rehearsals prior to the world premiere of The Africa Trilogy at Luminato in June 2010.
INSIDER: What was the main inspiration for The Africa Trilogy?
ROSS MANSON: Stephen Lewis. I snapped on CBC Radio one day, and he was on the air delivering one of his Massey Lectures on the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa. This was almost five years ago, when every piece of news was dominated by the war in Iraq. Yet here was Stephen Lewis reporting that a pandemic in Africa was, at the same time, claiming more lives each day than were lost in the twin towers. This boggled my mind: a ‘9/11’ each and every day. This was simply the largest and most deadly crisis on earth, and almost no one was talking about it. “Why?”, I thought. What ELSE isn’t being reported? These questions struck me as quintessentially dramatic. As an artist I became fascinated not so much by the issue of the pandemic, but by the idea of a global relationship so full of hidden agendas, unreported stories, and disinformation.
I: What makes this project important or relevant to you?
RM: I believe that the interplay between Canada and the many nations of the world that have contributed Canadians to Canada is a national phenomenon worth making art about. I believe our theatre must be less narrowly defined. With Volcano’s The Africa Trilogy, a group of international artists have been assembled to tackle an important global issue, in the same way that Canadian diplomacy has, at its best, gathered international partners to tackle pressing global concerns. The process is Canadian, even if the partners are international.
LIESL TOMMY: As a woman born in South Africa and working primarily in the West, I felt profoundly engaged with the original proposal put to the writers. Having lived and traveled in parts of Africa and parts of the West, and experienced the complexities therein – the hypocrisy, the misconceptions, the fetishizing, and the joys of the clash of these two enormous regions – I was eager to participate in the theatrical dialogue. As we head further into the 21st century I want to participate in a new kind of conversation involving the continent of my birth. I hope that The Africa Trilogy might explore what that new 21st century theatrical conversation could look like.
What do you think makes Luminato and the city of Toronto an ideal place for the world premiere?
RM: Toronto is certainly one of, if not the most multicultural city on earth. As I have learned through the casting process, there is a vast and talented African diaspora in Toronto. OF COURSE we should have theatre in Toronto that uses the city’s vastly diverse pool of talent and story.
I: This project was officially launched in November 2007. Now almost 2 1⁄2 years later, how much has the project changed since the very first workshop?
RM: The project has been tremendously fluid through its many phases of development. We began with a meeting at the Gladstone Hotel discussing theory. We traveled to Uganda and Rwanda together. The writers met separately in New York to discuss how they might proceed such that the plays would somehow fit together. There have been meetings and/or public talks in Toronto, Stockholm, Berlin, New York, Nairobi, Kampala, and Kigali. At every step of the way, as the scripts emerged, as design elements were discussed, we have been aware that decisions need to be made rigorously. What has been terrific in this project is the extraordinary level of communication amongst all of these many artists, from all these many backgrounds.
LT: ... these stories have just become stronger and stronger with each workshop. So I don't think there has been much change, but there has been tremendous growth... [and] I do think the artists involved have been changed. I think we have all had to have some pretty intense conversations with each other, have had to challenge each other... We have all had to confront our ignorance, our bias, our arrogance, and our fears. It has not always been an easy process, but it has been a profoundly rewarding one.
I: Volcano Theatre has an impressive international touring history, including a recent run of Goodness in Rwanda. Are there any plans to tour The Africa Trilogy beyond its presentation at Luminato?
RM: I would love to tour this trilogy internationally. I believe there is no richer conversation than the one inspired by cultural artistic exchange. And just such an exchange is what this trilogy is all about. I believe art is not simply a useful, but an essential, part of the way humans need to process information – especially complex information. But art does complexity well. Because art doesn’t seek to explain – it seeks to reveal. These three plays are part of an international conversation. We’d like an equally international audience to take part.