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From April 7 to 24, Braata Productions, a company dedicated to plays of the Caribbean and its diaspora, will present the New York live theater premiere of “God’s Way,” a play of dramatic realism by Dhalia Harris, a leading playwright of Jamaica. Performances will be April 7 to 10 at Theater at the 14th Street Y, 344 E 14th Street and April 14-24 at Jamaica Performing Arts Center (JPAC), 153-10 Jamaica Avenue, Queens. In this four-character drama, a middle-class Jamaican family is forever changed by the revelation of its patriarch’s double-life.
“God’s Way” is an absorbing drama that examines everything from faith, fractured friendships and mother-daughter relationships to trust, resentment and crime and punishment. It is a truth universally acknowledged for many Christian zealots that one never questions certain things, chief among them “God’s work.” You simply count your blessings and be grateful. But what happens when the true source of your good fortune causes you great shame and is nothing short of scandalous?
The piece is set in St. Andrew, a comfortable parish in the southeast of Jamaica. It opens in the tidy, stylish middle class residence of Valerie White, a civil servant and devout Christian. She has been blessed with a good home, a wonderful husband (who is seldom home) and an ambitious daughter. Upon hearing in the news that her husband may be implicated in a drug bust in Tampa, she realizes that essentially she’s been living a lie; the source of her material happiness can irreparably ruin reputations and lives. As Valerie, her deacon, her close friend and her daughter struggle to absorb the news, the veneer of their quiet, pleasantly perfect existence is painfully ripped to smithereens, revealing shocking skeletons that will forever change life as they know it.
The play explores human behavior, class, the price of dignity, and how we rise to face thunderstorms that will ultimately determine if we perish or prevail. Its language is a thick Jamaican dialect which is compact and colorful. Its characters are deliciously Jamaican and despite the seriousness of the situation, their problems are likely to elicit laughs of deep recognition in people of all cultures.
The actors are Marsha-Ann Haye, Mitzie Pratt, Jerry Benzwick and Epiphany Samuels. Director is Guyanese-American Keenan N. Charles. Set/Scenic Design is by Harlan Penn. Costume Design is by JohnEli Dacosta. Sound Design is by Joel Edwards and Andrew Clarke.
Playwright Dahlia Harris is a writer, actress, producer, director and comedian, known for Jamaica’s top TV dramas “Ring Games” and “Thicker than Water.” She has appeared in 24 plays, produced seven, directed six and written five. She was a sportscaster for over 20 years on TVJ’s Prime Time Sports. A multiple winner of Jamaica’s Actor Boy Awards, her theatrical work has earned her a place in the Caribbean Hall of Fame, the Bigga High Achievers Award and the Flair Magazine Distinguished Woman Award. She presently co-hosts Jamaica’s number one TV morning show, “Smile Jamaica It’s Morning Time,” and an immensely popular afternoon radio program, “Too Live Crew” on RJR94FM. She created the Jamaica Women in Theatre Festival. A cultural and social change advocate, she is also one of Jamaica’s best female stand up comedians. In 2018, Braata Productions mounted a staged reading of her play, “Garvey’s Wives.”
This is the New York live theater premiere of “God’s Way.” Last year, Braata Productions mounted the play for exclusively virtual audiences.
Braata Productions, led by Andrew Clarke, stages full productions of works by playwrights from the Caribbean and works about the Caribbean experience as uniquely felt by its migrant population. Other programs include educational programming, community outreach and folk performance. Its mainstage productions include plays from traditional stalwarts (like Trevor Rhone and Sir Derek Alton Walcott) to new works by authors of the Caribbean and its diaspora. “Braata” is a Jamaican colloquial term meaning a little more, like a baker’s dozen.
This program is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature. This program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, New York City Council Member James Gerrano with additional support from the Howard Gilman Foundation and the Coalition for Theatres of Color.
ABOUT BRAATA PRODUCTIONS
Braata Productions is a non-profit organization dedicated to giving Caribbean and Caribbean-American artists an opportunity and platform through which they can showcase their works and talents. The company was founded in 2009 to bring Caribbean folk culture, music movement, stories, artists, and theatre to the United States. Braata’s vision is to share the cultural and historical traditions of the Caribbean islands with the global arts community and to use those traditions to teach and inspire new generations to always reach for more. Braata Productions offers the highest quality theatrical and educational productions and programs to educate and entertain people worldwide.