Haitian Play Has Three Days To Sink Or Swim In Toronto
– Sink of Swim for a Three-Day Run In Toronto
By Stephen Weir
Three Brothers. One’s nose and mouth is underwater. The two others are treading water, heads barely breaking the surface. The striking theatre poster is a metaphor for Haiti and an advertisement for , a new play debuting in Toronto next weekend.
(The Brothers) is a 90-minute play set in Harlem and performed by the UC Follies in English (with a little bit of Creole thrown in for good measure). Written by New York based Sandra Daley-Sharif, her play, runs from November 29 to December 1 at the downtown George Ignatieff Theatre.
The play follows three estranged brothers of Haitian descent, who come home to Harlem for their father’s final days. Troubled memories filled with anger and abuse come rushing back as they deal with their father’s death.
“ We found the play through the New Play Exchange App and I successfully pitched it to the U of T drama society,” director Abigail Whitney told the Caribbean Camera. “ I first had to get permission of the author. She is an actress, a playwright, and currently a busy mother. She is happy that we are bringing her play to the stage, but has warned us that this a very tough play.”
“ Les Freres has been work shopped in New York, but, this is the first time that it will be performed professionally,” continued the director. ‘She has given us the okay to refine the play. Sandra told me to take it and run with it -- I guess because we are both of Haitian descent she knows that I understand what will work.”
Director Abigail Whitney is a University of Toronto Theatre and Performing Arts student who was born in Canada, but is still part of the Haitian diaspora. “My mother is from Haiti and I am very much in that community. However, like the brothers in the play, whenever my mother’s friends come over and start speaking Creole, someone has to translate for me!”
“Les Frères is a grass roots production. If it weren’t for community support we wouldn’t be able to do this. I took a chance and reached out to the Tarragon Theatre for help. They recently put on a play called Harlem Duet (reviewed by the Caribbean Camera) and they have loaned us furniture from their set!”
“This is an opportunity for Toronto audiences to get to know the nuances of Haitian culture on stage and the plight of many children of immigrant parents who deal with layers of trauma in their North American societies” explained Whitney.
Les Frères stars Haitian artist David Delisca, actors Kwaku Adu-Poku and Kato Alexander as well as seasoned actor Rob Candy. Director Abigail Whitney does not appear on stage, but Caribbean Camera readers may recognize her in the lobby. She is also a busy model and is the face of the Sephora international chain of personal care and beauty stores.
University of Toronto’s George Ignatieff Theatre is located at 15 Devonshire Place adjacent to the Royal Ontario Museum. The play starts at 8pm for each of its three performances. Tickets are $10 for students, $15 for adults.