The Fofana Kingdom runs February 2-4 at St. Thomas University’s Black Box Theatre.
Black Box Productions’ third show of the season is an adventurous celebration of diversity. Co-created and co-directed by a pair of St. Thomas University alums – Saa Andrew Gbongbor and Lucas Gutiérrez-Robert – The Fofana Kingdom is an original performance piece that strives to reimagine what theatre can be.
“My main goal for writing The Fofana Kingdom was to shed-light on the impact of globalization and immigration in the modern era,” said Gbongbor, “and how it changed our way of life back in ancient day Africa, especially Sierra Leone, my motherland.”
Gbongbor is a Fredericton-based artist and activist and former refugee from Sierra Leone. He has been artist-in-residence with St. Thomas University’s Black Box Productions since September 2022. Under the guidance of instructor Lisa Anne Ross, and working in partnership with Gutiérrez-Robert, an emerging artist and first-generation Argentinian, Gbongbor’s residency has provided him with the opportunity to explore the idea of home, and what that means for immigrants and refugees.
“Looking at the positives and the negatives, and the clash of cultures and traditions, I came to ask myself the question, ‘where Is home?’ Is it where I come from, or is it where I currently live and the people that make me feel welcome? I guess this answer will be different for everyone, and that is how The Fofana Kingdom comes into play,” he said.
Trinidadian, Incan, Mayan, and Indian cultures guide Princess Ozanna, a face cream mogul and her smooth henchman are perfect villains and a trio of gossipy girls from Fofana provide comic relief. All set against a background of lush African fabrics, cascades of gold and stands of grass, Fofana Kingdom will light up your heart and invite you to ask yourself, ‘Where is home’?
Lisa Anne Ross has been involved with the theatre at St. Thomas University for the past several years and helped transform Theatre St. Thomas into its present day identity as Black Box Productions.
“I approached Saa in 2021 about the possibility of becoming an artist in residence with Black Box Productions,” said Ross. “Through a residency grant with ArtsNB we were able to begin hosting him on campus in the fall of 2022. Watching him draw so many new students, community members and artists into the box and create such a magical space has been truly incredible. His boundless positivity and energy make him an artistic sun that we all want to orbit around!
“This project has also been special because I was able to bring recent STU alum Lucas Gutiérrez-Robert into the project. Lucas and Saa developed an exciting creative bond that led to the creation of the script and further enriched the creative space. So many wins,” she said.
The Fofana Kingdom runs February 2-4 at the Black Box Theatre. All performances are pay what you can.
Thursday Feb 2 | 7:30 p.m.
Friday Feb 3 | 7:30 p.m.
Saturday Feb 4 | 2:00 p.m.
Saturday Feb 4 | 7:30 p.m.
Tickets available at the door or to reserve email firstname.lastname@example.org