Toronto Fringe Festival presents The Autobiography of an I.B.M./Intelligent Black Man at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace. I was under the assumption that I would uncover an educational or an activist piece with themes of black history or African diaspora. I left the theatre with more questions than I had answers.
The theatre turns pitch black at the start of the performance. We hear Donald Carr’s deep, powerful voice in the middle of the audience. He refers to the audience members as “beautiful people smiling in the dark.”
As the lights come up, a variety African masks are placed on a rack at the center of the stage. Carr wears one of the masks, and there is an audio track of a woman speaking and singing. As she does so, Carr moves with the props around him. It hauntingly reminds me of a child at play.
This tableau is repeated several times throughout. I thought that there would be a common thread that linked the various scenes, I failed to decipher what the meaning each time.
A plethora of props are used at various times of the show, some of which include dolls, masks, chains, and various robes. It seemed that there was a lot of emphasis on the amount of props that were used in the performance, as opposed to depicting the greater meaning for each particular prop.
Carr ’s voice is commanding and powerful, but it is difficult to understand him through his microphone. He spoke in short monologue-like phrases that didn’t I had difficulty to connecting to one overarching theme. These monologues were done in combination with flashing lights, music, and audio tracks which added to my confusion.
For me, this piece was a little too abstract for my liking. If you are interested in the abstract, the obscure, and the daring, make sure to catch The Autobiography of an I.B.M./Intelligent Black Man.
- The Autobiography of an I.B.M. — Intelligent Black Man plays at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace. (30 Bridgman Ave.)
- Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (275 Bathurst St.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: mature language; audience participation.
- This venue is barrier-free. Designated accessible seating is in the middle of the auditorium.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- The Toronto Fringe Festival is scent-free: please do not wear perfumes, colognes, or other strongly-scented products.
- Wednesday July 3rd, 8:30 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 3:00 pm
- Sunday July 7th, 6:30 pm
- Wednesday July 10th, 9:45 pm
- Thursday July 11th, 7:45 pm
- Friday July 12th, 5:45 pm
- Sunday July 14th, 12:15 pm
Photo of Donald Carr provided by the company