The University of Michigan Center for World Performance Studies (CWPS) is hosting the National Theatre of Ghana in residence from September 12 to 17, featuring four free open air performances of 10 Blocks on the Camino Real, written by Tennessee Williams.
In this one-act play, song, dialogue and dance are used to tell the story of how the American hero Kilroy enters the pantheon of heroes by losing his innocence. The plaza of Ten Blocks on the Camino Real is a crossroads of world theater, drawing on Williams’ experiences in Mexico, and inspired by German theater, Chinese opera and commedia del’arte.
Ghana is the source and setting for this new production, directed by David Kaplan, curator of the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival. While the spoken English text is performed as written by Williams, Spanish songs and Spanish words have been translated to Ghanaian songs and Ghanaian languages. Don Quixote has become Okomfo Okokye, the founder of the Ashanti line of kings, who finds his sidekick, Osei-tutu. Other Spanish details are exchanged for Ghanaian specifics: pesos for pesewas, fiesta for jubilee. The presiding musician plays two blue djembe drums, rather than a blue guitar.
Established in 1983 at the University of Ghana at Legon, the professional theater company once known as “Abibigroma” became the resident troupe of the National Theatre of Ghana in 1991. The focus of the company is to develop a rich blend of music, dance, mime, movement, and dialogue with a strong social, spiritual and folkloric base. In addition to performances and class visits throughout the week, they will give a public workshop at the Residential College on Wednesday, September 13 at 4pm in the Keene Theater, and will work with students at Ann Arbor’s Community High School, and Mosaic Youth Theater in Detroit.
CWPS aims to recreate the atmosphere of the Ghanaian outdoor productions here in Michigan, staging performances in high traffic venues such as the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market (Sept. 13 at noon), the Diag on U-M Central Campus (Sept. 15 at noon), Ypsilanti Farmer’s Market Depot Town (Sept. 16 at 11am), and CMAP Detroit (Sept. 17 at 2pm). All performances are free and open to the public.
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