The softly lit theatre is colorful and playful, and there is djembe drums placed on each and every seat. As we await the performers arrival, African beats fill the air and trivia questions pertaining to the history of Djembe are projected on two different screens. A feeling of preshow excitement and anticipation is sensed as some people practice banging on their drums whispering about what’s to be expected. Seven performers, donned in bright African patterns walk out onto the stage and assume their position. When the lights go up two lead djembe drummers strike their drums encouraging the audience to join in the fun. The theatre rumbles with noise as numerous hands enjoy pounding alongside the performers, attempting to catch the beat. The two drummers initiate a call and response song before being joined by an ensemble of multifaceted musicians, and a powerhouse vocalist who guides us by song through the influences of the Djembe drum.
The evening is filled almost entirely with high-level energy and audience participation of engaged drumming and clapping. At one point the lead drummer guides us through a well deserved, simple self-massage to relieve us of all our hard work. Your hands will receive a workout indeed!
In this writer’s opinion this might be a good show for children over the age of 10, but not too interesting for adults and especially those already familiar with this musical genre. The narrative of the show is written below the level of young adult fiction. It’s especially a good fit for people who have no familiarity of the origins of this music. Nonetheless, it is a lively musical journey.
Fode Lavia Camara
Doug Manuel (Creator/Writer)
West Hyler (Writer)
Todd Rosenthal (Scenic Design)
Montana Levi Blanco (Costumes)
Zach Blane (Lighting)
Ray Nardelli (Sound)
Resean Davonte Johnson (Projections)
Seckou Keita (Lead African Artist)
Running through June 9th
2540 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
About the Author: Jordan Rome
Jordan Rome is an actress turned director/ writer/filmmaker working and living in Chicago, IL. She received her BFA in 2014 from DePaul University in PR and Advertising and Community Service Studies. She uses solo performance and film to deconstruct our understanding of race and body politics in America. She draws inspiration through the intimate exploration of Self and Source, both which she believes are spiritually and equally intertwined.
The professional work she’s accomplished in Chicago’s theatre/film include MPAACT Theater’s, Illinois Caucus of Adolescent Health youth theatre program, Collaboraction Theatre, Theater Momentum, VAM Studios, and Soft Cage Films.