Tag Archives: African

What a GEM!

Written by: Benjamin Tan

This article is for August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean

The stage setup from this performance was phenomenal. When I enter the theatre, the setup was already being displayed for the audience to admire. I myself was very amazed by all the intricate details of the setup.

The rustic wood panels at the side and the long dark wood tiles bring out that warm homely feeling. All the props that were used from the chairs, lamps, windows, doors, drawers, and potteries all aided in bringing the audience back to the past of the 1900s.

GEM of the Ocean Stage Setup

The costume also aided in the same way. The gents were wearing tuxedos, vests and a top hat and the ladies were wearing long printed skirts up to their waist and wearing a bandana over their head.

The one prop that was very significant was the paper boat. The entire performance was building on that paper boat. It brought everyone on a journey to the unknown, creating such anticipation to the audience of what is gonna happen next.

Actors’ fine costume for the performance

One character that I would like to describe will be Caesar. The main villain of the show. He was a man of his principles which were two things. Family is everything and standing on what is written on the law.

He believes that whoever abides in the law, is deemed worthy and whoever does not shall be punishes. With this narrow mindset, Caesar shot Black Mary’s good friend just because the friend hurt his right leg causing him to limp.

Caesar was so saturated and consumed by the law that his own conscience was totally gone! He did not feel any remorse of what he has done. This led to his own sister, Black Mary telling him straight to his face that she does not know him anymore.

This superb character really taught me that not everything should go by the book but there has to be a balance between abiding of the law and holding on to your conscience.

Caesar making his stand that everything got to be by the book.

The City of Bones scene was STUPENDOUS. Even before they step into the scene, they are already in character behind the door, shaking vigorously their wrists and ankles. The energy that they put in every move that they made had so much gust and momentum and as they synchronize the tribe beat with their “bones”. I love the props that they use such as red ribbons to symbolize fire and the wooden sticks to add a stronger sound to the beat. It depicted them to be souls being revived from their skeleton giving an eerie feeling which was exactly what was needed for that scene.

The Souls of the Skeleton being Summoned during the City of Bones

This entire performance really brought me back the past to experience, understand and feel how it was like in the African American community in the 1900s.