Thursday, 26 October 2017

'Blood Ticka Dan Watah' Hits the Right Chord About Family

By Neil Armstrong

The closing scene of 'Blood Ticka Dan Watah.'     Photo credit: Danae Peart

Love, honesty and forgiveness are important in healing tensions and disruptions in families.

This seems to the key message of Marcia Brown’s new play, “Blood Ticka Dan Watah,” which premiered in June in Toronto and is still on stages in various parts of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).

It was in Brampton at Central Peel Secondary School on Oct. 22 and will be presented at Toronto Perth Seventh-Day Adventist Church on Oct. 29 and at Lighthouse Fellowship Assembly on Nov. 25, both in Toronto.

The Caribbean Association of Waterloo Region will present the play at Humanities Theatre (Hagey Hall) in Waterloo on Nov. 5. This is a scholarship fundraiser for the Congress of Black Women Waterloo Chapter and the Caribbean Association of Waterloo Region.

The storyline is: Dorothy (Andrea Smith) emigrated from Jamaica to Canada many years ago leaving her twins – a boy, Percy (Jermaine Cowie), and a girl, Percynella (Ashley Simms), now 17 years old – with her mother, Mada May (Marcia Brown). Dorothy starts a new family with her husband, Fred (Kevin Adams), and their children, 15-year-old twins Ajah (Rochelle Robinson) and Tayshan (Tyrell Previtt-Reid), and younger daughter, Tiffany (Allison Campbell). After 15 years or so, she files for her Jamaica-born children to come live with her family here. However, this was a secret she kept in her heart over all those years and did not disclose it to her husband until a few weeks before the children were to arrive. Her Canada-born children were given much less notice and so there is resentment and lots of tension in the family.

Compound all of this with the arrival of Mada May – Dorothy’s religious and outspoken mother who having raised Percy and Percynella for so many years decided she would not allow them to travel by themselves – so she accompanies them.

What a bangarang! The ‘culture clash’ is fast and furious.

An early scene from 'Blood Ticka Dan Watah.'    Photo credit: Danae Peart

Brown, who is adept at bringing real stories to the fore on stage, with much mirth but also an underpinning solid message has done it again in “Blood Ticka Dan Watah.”

She does so with a cast of new and young actors who get in character to portray the roles that are apt to what is unraveling in the family.

Mada May meets a new way of life: one in which her Canadian grandchildren are called kids, the family attends church once a month, she thinks the children (Tayshan and Ajah) are disrespectful to their parents, and she meets the reality of a daughter who has carved out a life for herself and seems to have strayed from the Godly principles she grew up with in Jamaica. Mada May, Percy and Percynella are accustomed to attending church every Sunday – a totally different way of life.

Fred, Tayshan and Ajah resent that Dorothy kept the fact that she had children in Jamaica a secret until recently. The twins concoct a plan to get their Jamaican siblings in trouble, with the ultimate aim to see them return to their homeland. It backfires and what unfolds in the mounting action in the play is a story of love, honesty, forgiveness, redemption and recovery.

There are some really funny moments – the school uniforms, experiencing hot water in the faucet, bucking as an act of defense, and more.

Mada May, the central character, is really the linchpin of what happens in the family. She is the one who rescues one of her grandsons when he makes a misstep that could have dire consequences. Her intervention results in the conversion of a bully-rescuer-turned-bully-himself played by Tarick Glancy.

Director, Douglas Prout, centres most of the actions of the family in the living room and viewers have to imagine what lies beyond the doors of the rooms of Tayshan and Ajah. 

Percynella, Percy, and Fred in 'Blood Ticka Dan Watah.'   Photo credit: Danae Peart

The space on stage is used wisely with actors moving through doors, around furniture, from the outside to the inside easily, interactions of the actors, and every action seems to have a natural flow, instead of being contrived.

The play could easily be summarized as good sense prevailing when a traditional matriarch visits and decides to knock sense into some wayward family members.

But it is more than that – it is about the strong bond of family, even when the challenges are many there is a path to resolution.

It is about confirming that “blood ticka dan watah.”

Check to see what next Marcia Brown who has been doing this for 17 years is up to!

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