Storytelling and dance in a double-bill make for a lovely show with Mother Sea / Manman La Mer and What Do You See?, which are playing at The Theatre Centre BMO Incubator (1115 Queen Street W, Toronto, ON) as part of SummerWorks 2017.
I enjoyed both of these shows, and though they were very different, I found that seeing them back-to-back made for a single cohesive experience. They both feature women of colour telling their stories, just one is in a more literal fashion.
Mother Sea / Manman La Mer is a storytelling show by Djennie Laguerre. In thirty minutes, she takes us from her childhood into adulthood. Her series of tales draw from her Haitian culture, and her delivery is endearing.
I did find though that I was a bit peeved by the backing music though. Sometimes songs would play over top Laguerre’s stories, while this should lend a nice effect, they came in too loud and sometimes at ill-fitted times. Loucas Cafe also accompanied Laguerre, providing some vocals and using a shaker. Honestly, this felt much nicer than the songs playing over the speakers.
Beyond musical accompaniment, this show was all Laguerre. There were parts that really moved me, and I found Laguerre’s stories from her early childhood especially touching. As her tales progressed into adult life, they became less about the things happening to her and gave more focus to her internal struggles. The ending is uplifting though, as she finds pleasure in connecting with her Haitian roots.
Mother Sea / Maman La Mer charmed me, and clocking in at just thirty minutes it easily held my attention throughout.
After a brief intermission, I re-entered the studio space to see Jasmyn Fyffe’s What Do You See? a dance show that explores ideas about the Black female body. It was a layered performance that I’m still thinking about it. At the start audience members stuff Fyffe’s pants with rolls of fabric, and as the piece progresses, we watch as she struggles to pull out the stuffing, slowly deteriorating before us. At the end though, she seemed to gain a sense of empowerment.
Fyffe’s movement was fantastic and more than that; her expertly executed facial expressions. She could convey melancholy through a smile, and I was really impressed by her.
What Do You See? was a deeply moving piece that was challenging at times but ultimately provides an uplifting conclusion. Not unlike Mother Sea / Maman La Mer, where Laguerre works hard to eventually make peace with her personal struggles.
These two shows make a great pair and complement each other nicely. Though different in many ways, with the similar arc of driving their characters to empowerment, the experience of watching the two together feel complete for me.
- Mother Sea / Manman La Mer and What Do You See? plays at the The Theatre Centre BMO Incubator. (1115 Queen Street West, enter down the ramp at the side of the building)
- Remaining performances:
- Friday August 4th, 3:30pm – 4:45pm
- Monday August 7th, 5:15pm – 6:30pm
- Tuesday August 8th, 9:30pm – 10:45pm
- Thursday August 10th, 7:15pm – 8:30pm
- Saturday August 12th, 2:30pm – 3:45pm
- Sunday August 13th, 12:00pm – 1:15pm
- SummerWorks tickets are now Pay What You Decide at $15, $25, or $35, whichever suits your budget. All tickets are general admission and there are no limits to any price level. Tickets are available at the performance venue (cash only), online and in person at the SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst Street). Open August 1-13 from 10am-7pm. Cash and credit accepted.
- Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 7 shows.
Audience Advisory: Be advised that What Do You See? contains nudity and audience participation.
Image of Djenne Laguerre by Glenford Laughton