ML: Correct me if I’m wrong. The back of the jumpsuit had the word “collection” on it, but that was covered up with a patch that said “correction.” What was the significance of that costume choice?
TM: I wrote the character into the orange suite, because I honestly believe it to be a very beautiful colour, but also because it has this sense of alienation about it. A Black man in an orange suite is a story on its own but a Black Gay man in an orange suite tells a bigger story on its own. The choice was because it fit it right. The writing on the back, I lucked out on; it came with the suite. I left it on because I believe it contributed to the story was I was telling. I am pretty sure the writing was a blessing. When someone does wrong by social standards, we are very quick to collect; “retribution” When someone expresses themselves differently from the norm, we are quick to correct.
ML: How did you choose the movements for certain words, phrases and names, such as the mention of the main character, the person they were talking to, “the heart beats,” etc.?
TM: The movement came through rehearsal, once we got the text on its feet, and the body of the character settled within, I will move as my body will impulse. With the direction of Evalyn Parry, we were able to decide on which of these moves worked with the text, its rhythm and sat well with the body of the characters. If I moved in a way that was not fitting or true to the characters, she would point it out, we will go back to the text and find its place on the body.
ML: How do you go about the creation of your work, and are you consciously influenced by any other performance mediums?
TM: sounds, movements, paintings and words……….. everyday conversation I see them, I hear them, I come to find personal understanding of them, I write from my truth in experiencing them and then I find the memory of these experiences on and in my body.
ML: What was the role of your dramaturge and director, Evalyn Parry, in the development of Obaberima?
TM: Evalyn was my personal god during this process. She was there; to ask the question that needed answers and help me find them when I couldn’t do it on my own. She watched and listened. She pushed me to find the honesty and truth in what I was saying without being apologetic. She made sure that I was not getting carried away with the idea of the show and kept focus on what I wanted to say. She allowed me the room to create without judgment. But most importantly she believed in the piece and me.
ML: I cannot put into words how much I enjoyed Obaberima, and I only wish I had the chance to see it again, but I want to ask you, why do you believe it is important to have this production staged?
TM: Because of its truth. I believe the heart and truth of Obaberima will affect and challenge others. “Being aware is never enough” the message is universal, but yet still very individual and it needs to be heard.
Tawiah M’carthy is a Ghanaian born, Toronto based actor. His new solo show, Obaberima, developed through Buddies’ Young Creators’ Unit, was presented as part of Buddies In Bad Times Theatre’s Rhubarb Festival and directed by Evalyn Parry.