Black Box Productions wrapped The Fofana Kingdom this past Saturday after four well-attended shows.
The Fofana Kingdom followed princess Ozanna from the Fofana Kingdom, a fictionalized version of Sierra Leone, who travelled to other cultures seeking solutions to problems the kingdom was facing, such as possible colonization and food shortages.
Saa Andrew Gbongbor, the director of The Fofana Kingdom, told The Aquinian in October that the play had been living in his mind for years and that he was looking forward to the production being a collaborative effort.
“I’d like to see all of us come together and put [our cultural differences] into a play and see what it will tell our audience, our community, and see what people will learn from it,” said Gbongbor at the time.
When Emmanuelle Jackson, a second-year gender studies and fine arts student, was cast as the oracle, the script had not been finished.
“They wanted to make us a part of the show and have us contribute to the show as much as possible,” said Jackson.
“It has that heart of Sierra Leone in it. Since we were all able to come together and write different scenes, we have a lot of different cultures ingrained in this story.”
The Fofana Kingdom is the first “anti-colonial” production presented in the Black Box. Gbongbor included the stories from the cultures of cast members, who were given the opportunity to teach each other dances and music from their cultures to be featured in the play.
“This is the first show of its kind … it’s not something that I think people that normally would watch theatre are used to, it’s dancing, it’s drumming, it’s creative work … I’m glad that it has left its mark on campus,” said Jackson.
Halli Maillet, a first-year English student at STU, played one of three ‘gossip girls’ in the play, a trio whose role it was to offer comedic relief throughout. She said she is proud of what the play represents.
“This play really focuses on not trying to conform to the white majority, but focusing on who you are in your own culture and being proud of that fact,” she said.
Maillet said the play was well-received and attended each show.
“Everyone was commenting on how it was really nice to be introduced to these worldviews that they had never seen before,” she said.
The Fredericton Public Library will be screening a recorded version of The Fofana Kingdom on Feb. 11 at 2 p.m. as part of its African Heritage Month programming.
Guinevere Santaguida is Arts & Culture Editor for The Aquinian, St. Thomas University’s student newspaper. This piece was first published in The Aquinian on February 6, 2023.