Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival and the National Theatre of Ghana Present “Ten Blocks on the Camino Real”
An outdoor, drum-fueled production to take place in Worcester
Worcester, MA- The Worcester Cultural Coalition, Clark University, the City of Worcester and The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts are excited to welcome the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival to Worcester, touring a new production “Ten Blocks on the Camino Real.” The production is directed by Festival Curator David Kaplan and performed by Abibigromma, the national drama company of Ghana.
The performance will start at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29, on the Worcester Common Oval. The play is free and open to the public and audiences are encouraged to bring their own chairs. In the event of rain, the theater event will take place at the Hanover Theatre Conservatory.
Erin Williams, City of Worcester’s Cultural Development Officer said. “We are delighted to host the National Theatre of Ghana here at City Hall; it’s a great addition to the city’s efforts to build creative collaborations which actively engages the community.”
The “Ten Blocks on the Camino Real” production comes to Worcester as part of a multi-city U.S. tour, in partnership with the Tennessee Williams Festival and Clark University. The tour in Worcester will include workshops given to Worcester Public School students by the National Theatre of Ghana and will take place at both Clark University and Burncoat High School
A full performance of the production will take place at Clark University at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, in Atwood Hall.
“Clark University is thrilled to work with the City of Worcester, the Worcester Cultural Coalition, Hanover Theatre, and other partners to bring the National Drama Company of Ghana to Worcester,” Jack Foley, Clark’s Vice President for Government and Community Affairs, said. “Not only will this be an exciting presentation of this Tennessee Williams’ production, but also a great celebration of the Ghanaian community of Worcester.”
“We are delighted to host the National Theatre of Ghana here at city hall, it’s a great addition to the city’s efforts to build creative collaborations which actively engages the community,” Foley said.
This 1947 one-act play is a thrilling story about a big-hearted hero lost in a ruthless world. It’s the story of Kilroy, a boxer with a “heart as big as the head of a baby,” who falls in love with a Gypsy’s daughter – and remains faithful even after death.
The spirited production, which brings vibrant music and West African flair to Williams’ story of love and heroism, toured marketplaces and outdoor venues in Accra in April 2016, and continues to tour throughout Ghana. Performed in English, the 75-minute show retains Williams’ text, yet resonates with Ghanaian culture.
Williams Around the World:
Since 1993, Festival Director David Kaplan has staged plays by Williams in Russia, Hong Kong, Uruguay, and throughout the United States. Since the early years of the Tennessee Williams Festival in Provincetown, Kaplan says, the full-length Camino Real has struck him as a show that could be performed outdoors with a small ensemble of actors. “From the beginning,” he says, “I thought of it as a street theater performance.”
The idea led to Festival collaborations with director Sarah Michelson – whose revelatory version of Camino Real with the five-actor troupe Brooklyn on Foot played Provincetown in 2007 – and with director Davis Robinson, whose Boston company Beau Jest Moving Theatre performed Ten Blocks on the Camino Real with actors and marionettes in 2012.
The following year, Kaplan staged an outdoor production of Ten Blocks on the Camino Real with Raul Rodríguez Da Silva and his Taller de Teatro in a public marketplace in Paysandu, Uruguay. For that show, the team chose bright colors for the costumes and outsized gestures for the actors, so that the show resembled a circus act.
“The audience is meant to recognize these stock characters at once,” Kaplan says. “We put up banners that had the names of the characters on them, like fortune-telling cards. And because the story is episodic, the audience didn’t have to see everything to know what was going on. You could get something out of it just from walking by.”
The play speaks across cultures, Kaplan says, in its lyric writing and its folkloric images of love, greed, and bravery. It evokes Bertolt Brecht plays from the early twentieth century about sinister cities, as well as commedia dell’arte, the Italian street theater tradition established in the sixteenth century.
It also resembles Concert Party, a style of West African popular theater that evokes Italian commedia’s stock characters and musical storytelling style. It’s the heritage of Abibigromma, which was established in 1983 at the University of Ghana at Legon and became the resident troupe of the National Theatre of Ghana in 1991.
Ghana has a history of creatively appropriating European theater. During the decades-long struggle for independence from Great Britain, live performances relayed the rebellion’s successes, unreported by the colonial government.
Ghanaian Concert Party began in the early 1900s, and still continues. Today, Abibigromma has developed a rich blend of music, dance, mime, movement, and dialogue with a strong social, spiritual, and folkloric base.
About the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival
The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival was founded in 2006 in Provincetown — the birthplace of modern American theater — where Williams worked on many of his major plays during the 1940s. The TW Festival is the nation’s largest performing arts festival dedicated to celebrating and expanding an understanding of the full breadth of the work of America’s great playwright. Each year, theater artists from around the globe perform classic and innovative productions to celebrate Williams’ enduring influence in the 21st century, hosted by venues throughout the seaside village. For more details, visit twptown.org and follow the Festival on Facebook.
This Festival is funded in part by the Provincetown Tourism Fund, and is presented by Sage Inn and Lounge.
About the Worcester Cultural Coalition
The Worcester Cultural Coalition is the unified voice of Worcester’s cultural community whose members are the leaders of the City’s sixty-plus arts and cultural institutions and organizations. The Cultural Coalition was formed in 1999 in partnership with the City of Worcester, Worcester Cultural Commission, Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, Colleges of Worcester Consortium, and Worcester County Convention & Visitors Bureau, to ensure that arts and culture play a vital role in Worcester’s planning and development efforts.
About Clark University
Founded in 1887 in Worcester, Massachusetts, Clark University is a liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale. Nationally renowned as a college that changes lives, Clark is emerging as a transformative force in higher education today. Clark’s faculty and students work across boundaries to develop solutions to complex challenges in the natural sciences, psychology, geography, management, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. The Clark educational experience embodies the University’s motto: Challenge Convention. Change Our World.
About the #Worcester100 Campaign
Worcester City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. has challenged his staff and the community to make 2017 the biggest year on the Common yet with #Worcester100, a campaign to bring 100 events to the Common this year. So far, the Common has hosted thousands of visitors at events like the Craft Brew Races, Food Truck Festivals of America’s annual food truck and craft beer event, a Spring Garden Festival and Plant Sale hosted with the Regional Environmental Council, and many more.
For a complete list of upcoming events, visit www.WorcesterCommonOval.com. Event organizers interested in hosting their event on the Common should call the City Manager’s Office at 508-799-1175 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Throughout the year, visitors to Common events are encouraged to post their photos with the hashtag #Worcester100. The best photos will be featured on the city’s social media platforms.