Todays review discusses the Edinburgh fringe show Sing Sistah Sing! Tales of Transatlantic Freedom – which is the next edition of Andrea Baker’s Sing Sistah Sing! series.
I had the pleasure of attending the show on the 20th August where Yard Heads International productions presented award-winning artists/singer Baker along with composer and pianist Howard Moody.
In 2018 I wrote a review of Yardheads superb production of The Last Days of Mankind (see link here https://sourcenews.scot/theatre-review-the-last-days-of-mankind/). That show connected with the #PROESCOTIA blog theme of social justice by challenging the War Mongers amongst us:
‘ The play uses ‘physical theatre’ to enable it to intelligently portray the full body shattering, skin burning, bullet ripping and unremittingly senseless horrors of war. The juxtaposition of the contorted physical embodiment of war with soul examining cabaret music, directed and sung by that peerlessly of ghoulish divas Martyn Jacques (and his Tiger Lillies’ band members) , gifts the production a golden threaded set of allegories concerning every day folks’ experiences. Key messages include that there can be no sanitised death in war; that the class who asked disabled people to hide their post-war torn disfigurement knew no shame; that hunger and starvation (in our times food banks) are the result of the way society is organised and not the fault of the individual; and mistreatment and violence can have no philosophical or practical justification.’
And this new production is at that very point again and builds on that idea with ‘A glorious exploration of musical theatre weaving song, spoken word and piano together across centuries and continents, celebrating the African diaspora’s quest for artistic, intellectual and social freedom.’
A key theme of the show is ‘transatlantic journeys of people and ideas between Scotland and the American continent, tracing the threads of power, resistance, migration and emancipation in story and song.’
And you are adeptly and emotively placed in that journey – chains and all – by this production.
Created with artistic director John Paul McGroarty, this show certainly lived up to its aim to ‘transport, uplift and enlighten audiences.’
This show is a must for social justice orientated folk – its expression of emotions such as struggle, pain, loss, confinement, release and freedom – really touched me in my heart and at points I was moved to tears.
Yet, Baker’s great skill was to also raise us, flirt with us and support our liberation so that by the end we were not maudlin nor melancholic – we were ready to meet the world again with a smile on our face , with hope in our heart and with an honest understanding that we are not the mere parts of our suffering, we will not allow those that transgress against us to define who we are and we are not cowed in the face of our oppressors – At a time of war in eastern Europe, revolt in the USA and the demise of the United Kingdom as a democratic institution – this show had lessons for us all on the need to value our differences, connect with the best of our fellow human beings and above all, enjoy life in the now.
There was plenty of audience clapping, whooping and bopping around in our seats and the venue’s circular tiered seating ensured that audience members not only could connect with the musicians but also with the reactions of the other eclectic and intergenerational mix of audience members.
In particularly, I enjoyed the reaction of the younger audience members who were gripped by the sheer physicality, essence and theatre of the show. It is those young people who will one day lead us to a brighter place – and this show will inspire them on their journey.
Only two shows left at the Pianodrome – go see it: