The University of Michigan Center for World Performance Studies (CWPS) hosted the National Theatre of Ghana in residence from September 12-17, including a series of open air performances of 10 Blocks on the Camino Real, by Tennessee Williams. In this one-act play, the company－better known by the name “Abibigromma” in Ghana－ integrated song, dialogue and dance to tell the story of how the American hero Kilroy enters the pantheon of heroes by losing his innocence. Ghana was the source and setting for this production, directed by David Kaplan, curator of the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival. While the spoken English text was performed as written by Williams, Spanish songs and Spanish words were translated to Ghanaian songs and Ghanaian languages. Other Spanish details were exchanged for Ghanaian specifics: pesos for pesewas, fiesta for jubilee, and the presiding musician played two blue djembe drums, rather than a blue guitar.
In addition to outdoor performances in the Diag, Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market, Ypsilanti Depot Town Farmer’s Market and CMAP Detroit, the members of the ensemble visited classes in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, Rackham and the Residential College. They also conducted two public master classes, and workshops with high school aged students at Ann Arbor Community High School and Mosaic Youth Theater Detroit.
Established in 1983 at the University of Ghana at Legon, the professional theater company once known as “Abibigromma” 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.
This residency was co-sponsored by the African Studies Center, Carrie Morris Arts Production, International Institute, Residential College, and the School of Music, Theatre & Dance.