One actress, 10 characters in 'From Yardie to Yankee' - Play on for single showing at Edna Manley today
Jamaican-born actress/writer/producer and director Sardia Robinson says it's all systems go for tonight's premiere of her play, From Yardie to Yankee, at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.
The actress, whose inspirations include Louise Bennett, Fae Ellington, Cicely Tyson, Ruby Dee and Viola Davis, told The Gleaner "It's been my dream since I was a child. When I'm onstage, I come alive, I was born to perform."
Robinson also spoke about her passion for writing and revealed that From Yardie to Yankee is the fourth play she has written.
"I love telling stories, and that's what I do when I write, I tell stories. I get the chance to let people see what I see and experience the things that I've experienced," she said.
To that end, Robinson says From Yardie to Yankee is " ... about my journey to America and all the distractions and struggles that came with it. It's an exciting story and one that many people can relate to. I hope the audience will appreciate the narrative and will give the play positive feedback, but above all, I hope it inspires people to work towards their dreams no, matter the obstacles they are faced with along the way."
The play is a one-woman show, as Robinson takes on the challenge of channelling 10 different characters.
"I decided to do this play solo because of the type of story I was telling. It's my story, and I just thought it was best if I was the one telling it," she said.
"It won't be weird. It's not the first time an actress will do an entire play by herself. I will be talking to the audience, and as far as playing the other characters goes, I do some voice changes. The test of a true actor comes with how well they can portray different personalities, and with this play, my skills are definitely tested. There are no costume changes, so I will have to rely solely on my skills to make sure the performance comes off perfectly."
Robinson revealed that she never intended to have the play staged in front of a local audience, but was encouraged by close friend and project promoter Shelly-Ann Thompson.
"I met Shelly-Ann while attending the Jamaica Film Festival last year. During our conversations, I mentioned my play and she thought it was a brilliant idea to bring it to Jamaica, and so we began planning to have it shown here," Robinson said. "Since then, she has been working with me on the project, helping me to find places to show it."
Although Robinson has been performing the play across the United States since 2009, she hopes it will be well received in Jamaica.
"I've done performances in Atlanta, Los Angeles and Chicago, and everywhere I've gone, the response has been great. I've always had sold-out audiences and I've received positive reviews. I hope it will be the same here. Although the show is on for one night, if the response is great, my team and I will consider having another run," Robinson said.