Jumpin’ Jumby

THIS LIFE by Denise Barnard, directed by David Collins, with Henry Gomez, Charles Officer and Cecilia Konney. Presented by Memelippy.


THIS LIFE by Denise Barnard, directed by David Collins, with Henry Gomez, Charles Officer and Cecilia Konney. Presented by Memelippy at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. August 2 and 3 at 6:30 pm, August 4 at 9:30 pm, August 5 and 10 at 8 pm, August 6 at 5 pm, August 9 at 11 pm.

Rating: NNNNN

In this life, Mermaid lore and a spirit called the jumby haunt an old Toronto man born in the West Indies.But that’s not a bad thing, according to author Denise Barnard.

“My Antigua-born mother used to say to us children, “You must be haunted,'” says Barnard. “By that she meant we were restless. We all know about that kind of figurative haunting. That restlessness is what my character faces when he’s visited by a jumby who takes him back into the past.”

A fiction writer, Barnard had a piece of dialogue between two men in her head and decided to experiment by translating it into theatrical form. The younger figure was inspired by a Guyanese folk piece about the growing closeness between a brother and a sister, while the elder is Barnard’s own creation.

“I didn’t want to cover old ground, about people who come from the Caribbean and their experience here, of belonging only tangentially in their adopted home,” says the first-time playwright, who insists hers is only one voice from the diverse West Indian community.

“Instead, the play deals with the role that memory plays in our lives, with the loneliness we all feel, whether we’re with someone or not.”

She’s appreciative that SummerWorks provides an opportunity for novice theatre artists.

“I usually appreciate the power of theatre by being a spectator. A festival like this allows me to move beyond a viewer’s love and admiration to make my own work happen.”

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