The Art of Traditional Head-tying (The Coal Pot) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review

The Art of Traditional Head-tying

The Art Of Traditional Head-tying is written and performed by Kanika Ambrose and is playing at St. Vlad’s theatre as part of the 2014 Toronto Fringe Festival. The Art Of Traditional Head-tying begins when Rosie returns to her home country Dominica to teach a series of workshops on the dying art of traditional head-tying. Not only are we audience members to Rosie’s experiences during her visit home, but we are also members of her workshop.

Rosie has been living in Canada for twenty years; she returns to Dominica and aghast to discover how much has changed since she’s been gone. The generation gap has never been wider. Her nieces do not demonstrate the same industriousness or respect that she does. Rosie is adamant in her drive to preserve the culture of head-tying not just to revive the dying aspect of Dominican culture, but to push the economic benefits of it as well. Her students, it seems, are more concerned with staying on top of their domestic chores or perpetuating misinformation, especially with regard to the naming of distinct ties.

Kanika Ambrose is brilliant as all the characters in this solo piece of theatre. Her Rosie is passionate, uptight and exasperated. She has lost just enough of her accent to be a convincing ex-patriot.

Ambrose plays Rosie’s two nieces, Ginger and LaToya, as night and day characters. Ginger is high pitched and speaks in a singsong cadence. Her body language is open and seductive. LaToya is the sturdier of the two. She pounds her chest and is more prone to breaking out in song and dance.

Matthew, Ginger’s boyfriend, is slow and dumb and constantly picking at his nose. Curtis is a bus driver and former love of Rosie who walks with incredibly broad shoulders and a swagger.

Ambrose’s background in dance is evident in the way that she can switch between characters without effort. She uses her body to transform the stage from a stuffy classroom to a dance hall, rocky road and picturesque Caribbean landscape. Each of her accents is distinct and nuanced and the entire show is well paced and excellently choreographed.

The Art Of Traditional Head-tying is a well-crafted, character-driven story about home, loss, preservation and culture.



The Art Of Traditional Head-Tying plays at the St. Vlad’s Theatre. (620 Spadina Ave.)

Show times
July 02 at 08:45 PM
July 05 at 02:15 PM
July 07 at 03:00 PM
July 09 at 07:45 PM
July 11 at 02:15 PM
July 12 at 12:00 PM
July 13 at 09:00 PM

Tickets for all mainstage productions are $10 at the door, cash only. Advance tickets are $12, and can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), or from the festival box office at the Fringe Club. (Rear of Honest Ed’s, 581 Bloor St. West). Money-saving value packs are also available if you are going to at least five shows; see website for details.

 To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.

Photo of Kanika Ambrose by Howard Davis