Internal Revamp Talk Radio of blessedbeatz.com had the pleasure of sitting down with ⅔ of the executive team of The Sankofa Collective to speak on their nonprofit and the cutting edge, thought provoking, play, Hamlet: Prince of Lagos with radio personality Erma J and producer Ashley Shaunte. They caught our attention by the riveting name meaning of Sankofa that roughly translates to "go back and get it" and after the performances of the stellar actors we found ourselves having to go back and get our wigs.
We were fortunate enough to sit in a sold out theater on opening night and experience such great work. Director Errol Anthony Wilks never ceases to amaze the theatre industry with his extravagant yet simple approach to theatre that leads to an overwhelming response of applause from the community and beyond.
Now where do we begin? Before starting please note that this is a review and not a critique therefore no element or actor will be criticized. All opinions are solely based on overall feel. My thespian opinions will be kept silent. With that said, let us begin with the technical side of things. The transitions performed by the crew (look, even the crew gets love) were clear, concise, and smooth. They operated in a spirit of excellence and help. I found myself watching and listening to their way of communicating. Just the slightest incorrect positioning of a set piece can ultimately change choreography or blocking. The stagehands paid close attention to every detail and ensured if something was misplaced to quickly correct it without fear or worry. They demonstrated a quickness and efficiency in their technique and tactic therefore making the run effective.
With all biases aside (although I have been a board operator for many shows), the lights and sound effects caught my attention more times than not. The lights were simple enough to convey the story without taking away the focus (I’m the exception) of the audience. In other words, it was not too crazy. In fact it was not crazy at all. And the sound. The sound kept us in not only the scene but the culture as well. Although many may say that it was an unneeded element, I believe it kept the story going.
Now on to the performances. I can go on and on about each character but we’re here for Hamlet, right? This portrayal of Hamlet (Kristopher Adams) and the show in its entirety followed the suit of the pioneer African Theatre that pushed boundaries; not because it was Shakespeare but because they were able to digest the words in such a way that even the lame understood. It was a community that showcased talent that otherwise would never be seen (kinda sorta like The Sankofa Collective). This performance was on the level of pioneers such as Ira Aldrige, Paul Robeson, and many more. It was special in its own way. The way Adams delivered Hamlet allowed the audience to see his vulnerability and relate to him in a deeper, more human like (Grace Ojionuka words) experience. His freedom on stage spoke to his ability as an actor to carry such capacity with ease and grace.
Thank you The Sankofa Collective once again for being a beacon of fine theatre dining that allows the audience to leave any performance with a chance to indulge in great conversation. It was a night that will not be forgotten. Thank you for allowing us to be apart of the movement.