A girl and her brother, a volatile river goddess, and a ripe mango tantalizing just out of reach on a branch high above the ground combine to deliver an evening of storytelling magic in the MOXIE Theatre streaming production of “The Mango Tree.”
This world premiere of playwright/performer Bibi Mama’s one-woman play pays homage to the tradition of West African folk tales passed down by her father. Multiple characters convey the story of an unforgettable birthday of the twins through narrative, dance, and song. In true folk tale fashion, the twins’ curiosity, joy, daring, fears, triumphs and loss come to mirror our own of late as we ponder the question: “Have you ever waited an entire year for something?”
Performed on a dark, barren stage, sound elements (courtesy of Melanie Chen Cole) are minimal yet deliver maximal impact: cascading water, the slap of a tossed mango hitting the skin of a waiting hand, the crack of a branch, the splash of something heavy falling into the river and the despair of the utter silence that follows.
Bibi Mama a first-generation Beninese American born and raised in Connecticut, where her father, Raouf Mama, is a distinguished professor of English at Eastern Connecticut State University and an award-winning storyteller. Bibi spent the early years of her life observing her father continue the Yoruba oral tradition through storytelling which inspired her love for acting. Each performance of “The Mango Tree” includes a not-to-be-missed recorded interview with father and daughter about storytelling and Bibi’s inspiration for this show.
Suitable for all ages, “The Mango Tree” is a partnership between MOXIE Theatre and the Black Artist Collective (BAC), which strives to facilitate a foundation of support and resources that will provide a sense of community, a safe haven and a sanctuary for artist development.
The Mango Tree is part of “Say It Loud”, a week-long virtual festival in celebration of Juneteenth, hosted by BAC in partnership with several San Diego theatres. More information at www.sdblackartistcollective.com/sayitloud.
by Lynne Friedmann