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'Slim Actress': 1 star, 4 women

Published:Thursday | April 8, 2010 | 12:00 AM
The many sides of Sabrena McDonald who stages her one-woman show on April 24 at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. - Contributed

A one-man (or, in this case, one-woman) show is always an ambitious project. Gone are the crutches of fellow actors and dialogue. The lone thespian bears the responsibility of keeping the audience entertained amid the complacency of monotony.

Sabrena McDonald takes on this ambitious role on April 24 in Slim Actress. The production which, by her description, includes monologues, movements, poetry and melodies, will be staged at the Dennis Scott Theatre at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.

McDonald follows in the footsteps of the late Trevor Rhone, whose one-man play Bellas Gate Boy won critical acclaim, and puppeteer Jean Small. More recently, Christopher 'Johnny' Daley launched his Johnny Raw one-man comedy show and Rodney Campbell had a similar production last year.

McDonald will portray four characters, women ranging from 23 to 60 years old, in Slim Actress. She said the multi-layered approach to her one-woman show is aimed at breaking the monotony which sometimes sets in with this kind of production.

"It is an art form that requires a lot more attention," she said of solo performances. "The good thing is that the different sides will make it a bit less challenging because of the diversity."

While she will grace the stage alone, McDonald has extra hands assisting her in the form of Chappie St Juste (lighting), Michael Holgate (choreography) and Trevor Nairne and Damion Radcliffe (assistant directors). Since it is her concept, McDonald is the chief director.

McDonald said the production is also a celebration of her 18 years in theatre, having first performed onstage at 12 years old, while attending St Jago High School. That inauguration has led to numerous other appearances and awards in speech and drama. She featured in Raisin in the Sun with Leonie Forbes (2000), Who God Bless (2004) and Not About Eve (2006).

No procrastination

McDonald said onstage her complete training as a writer, director, producer and actor will fuse into a meaningful production. Slim Actress has been two years in the making. Apart from the title piece and the poem, Better Off A Boy, McDonald said the rest of the material is original. She said after losing most of her work on a jump drive recently, she decided to procrastinate no longer.

"I've learnt to appreciate that my journey is a gift," she said. "I'm fusing all my different training, and I think I have something completely different to offer."

McDonald said she was quite aware of the challenges of keeping her audience's interest. Apart from not having a sense of sameness, she said there must also be the seamless transition of characters.

"I go through different emotions in the production so I have to gauge the performance," she said. "It needs a bit more focus and science to it to make sure all the characters are believable."

McDonald said not too much of her is revealed in the characters, but she will use the production to posit questions she would ask of society.

- LeVaughn Flynn