It’s a man’s world -- or is it?
Some women may think so. But when they strive to succeed, they may find added blessings during their journey to self-worth.
Students who are Bachelor of Fine Arts candidates in Savannah State University’s Visual and Performing Arts program will present Shango Diaspora: An African-American Myth of Womanhood Oct. 26-29. “It was written by Angela Jackson, a playwright from Chicago,” says Joan McCarty, the SSU drama professor who directs the show.
“It’s a play that explores male-female relationships,” she says. “It also explores the culture of Nigeria.
“Shango is the God of Thunder,” McCarty says. “He has a number of wives.”
While the play is based on African myths, it has a modern twist. “It looks at the contemporary point of view,” McCarty says. “Men can have as many women as they want, but a woman has to be faithful. It is a modern use of an ancient African tale of the God of Thunder.”
Music and dance are of vital importance to the play, which includes everything from hip-hop to traditional African dance. In the play, a young woman sets out to find Shango to make him love her.
“He rejects her,” McCarty says. “He laughs at her. But on her journey, she finds real growth and real wisdom. She comes to realize she has something to offer. It’s about a woman’s quest.”
Along the way, the woman finds sisterhood, self-esteem and even love. McCarty doesn’t hesitate to say that the play has a happy ending. “Everyone is happy in the end,” she says.
The play is being choreographed by Julie Dosso, who teaches dance in SSU’s Visual and Performing Arts program. “She is an expert in African dance,” McCarty says.
There are 15 students in the cast. “We are trying to feature our BFA majors in theater and dance,” McCarty says. “They play all the main roles. We are very happy about that.”
The playwright is the author of Voo Doo/Love Magic and The Man with the White Liver, both books of poetry. She also has written two other plays, Witness! and When the Wind Blows.
A native of Mississippi, Jackson moved with her family to Chicago. She attended Northwestern University, where she not only received many literary awards, she also became one of the most desired readers and performers because of her command of the art of pause and rhythm during performances.
It has been somewhat difficult to schedule rehearsals. “The challenge has been working around Homecoming activities,” McCarty says. “The students are involved in so many activities.”
Plus, McCarty is co-directing another production, The Amen Corner, which will open Nov. 16. “We are all saying, ‘Why do we do this to ourselves?’” she says with a laugh.
Some of the students play more than one part. Since Jackson is a poet, much of the play is written in poetry, which proved somewhat challenging to some cast members.
But McCarty takes it all in stride. “You have to do it with Shakespeare,” she says. “Why not do it with Angela Jackson?” ç
Savannah State University presents Shango Diaspora: An African-American Myth of Womanhood, Oct. 26, 27 and 28 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 29 at 3 p.m. in the Kennedy Fine Arts Auditorium. Tickets are $5 general admission and $2 for the SSU community. The production includes language that may not be appropriate for audiences of all ages.
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