The first production in Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s 2022/23 season is the breathtaking The First Stone written by Donna-Michelle St. Bernard and directed by Yvette Nolan. Depicting the struggles of the Ugandan people during the height of the Lord’s Resistance Army, The First Stone masterfully tackles this heartbreaking topic while leaving you with a feeling of hope for the characters. Told through beautifully worded text, song, and dance, The First Stone is a must-see theatrical experience.
The design of this production certainly deserves special mention. The set is elegant in its simplicity: a round base with a back wall and a roof to symbolize Gandad’s hut with pillars around it supporting some children’s laundry. The rest of the village is created with lighting and chalk drawings on the floor. I thought this was a clever and effective way to show us the world of the characters while leaving ample space for the action of the play.
The cast of The First Stone is fabulous; this strong ensemble lead by some incredible actors makes for a very impactful storytelling experience. Makambe K Simamba and Daniel Jelani Ellis star as Girl and Boy respectively, and it’s their journey from safety to the danger of the woods and back again which we follow. I thought they were absolutely amazing, and navigated their characters journeys beautifully. Tsholo Khalema’s presence as the Ancestor was haunting and graceful as they spoke the most poetic of the text. Dorothy A. Atabong and Uche Ama were excellent as Mom and Auntie; their performances had so much vulnerability and passion behind them. I always enjoy watching a truly collective performance, where everyone is so clearly exceptionally talented and working together to weave the story together for the audience.
The First Stone runs until October 23rd at Buddies in Bad Times theatre. Please go and witness this beautiful work which has so much soul and beauty in it. These stories are so important, and it certainly makes me want to delve into more of St. Bernard’s works. The performance I went to see was a reduced capacity, relaxes performance, so there are options for everyone depending on your comfort levels at the theatre. For more information and tickets, visit: The First Stone — Buddies in Bad Times Theatre
Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann