Following its run in Toronto, the production will play Barbados in April, representing Canada's cultural contribution to the World Cup of Cricket Championships, held for the first time in the West Indies.
The work is drawn from the award-winning novel by Austin Clarke. It's adapted for the stage by Colin Taylor in collaboration with Alison Sealy-Smith. The production features Sealy-Smith and Tony Thompson. Taylor directs.
"When an elderly West Indian woman calls the police to confess to murder, the call results in a shattering all-night vigil that brings together every element of the African Diaspora in one epic sweep," according to production notes. "Set on the post-colonial West Indian island of Bimshire in 1952, The Polished Hoe unravels over one evening, but spans the lifetime of one woman and unearths the collective experience of a society informed by slavery. The man she claims to have murdered is Mr. Bellfeels, the village plantation owner for whom she has worked for more than 30 years. Mary has also been Mr. Bellfeels' mistress for most of that time and is the mother of his only son, Wilberforce, a successful doctor. What transpires through Mary's words and recollections is a deep meditation on the power of memory and the indomitable strength of the human spirit."
Author Austin Clark won the ninth annual Giller Prize for his 10th novel, "The Polished Hoe," released in Canada and the Caribbean in the fall of 2002. The book went on to win Ontario's Trillium Prize for the best book by an Ontario author, the regional Commonwealth Prize for Best Book, and the overall Commonwealth Prize for the Best Book in the British Commonwealth.
"The Polished Hoe" remained on Canadian bestseller lists for over 18 weeks and was nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2004. Colin Taylor is a director, producer, designer, writer, dramaturg and founding artistic producer of (Theatre) WUM. His directing credits include Rick Salutin's 1837, Daniel David Moses' The Indian Medicine Shows, and Suzan-Lori Parks' Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom.
Alison Sealy-Smith, who collaborated on the adaptation of The Polished Hoe, will play Mary. She has received four Best Performance Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations.
The cast also includes John Blackwood, Jamaal Grant, Jajube Mandiela and Joanne Reece.
Obsidian Theatre Company's previews play Toronto Feb. 18-21, toward a Feb. 22 opening.
Performances play Enwave Theatre (formerly Harbourfront Centre Theatre), 231 Queens Quay West, in Toronto.
For more information, call (416) 973-4000 ort visit www.obsidian-theatre.com.
Founded in February 2000 by 13 theatre artists who come from the many diverse cultures which make up the African diasporic experience in Canada, Obsidian Theatre launched in 2001 with The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God. Its works have included The Piano Lesson, Consecrated Ground, Two Can Play and Born Ready, among others.