Articles header

Born Ready: A review by Pamella Bailey

08 Oct 2005

Directed by Philip Akin and Written by Joseph Pierre

“It’s the black man’s hustle…You have to keep pushing.  But sometimes you don’t want to push anymore”

In a darkened theatre, shouting is heard, a scuffle, then gunshots.  It’s the Mainspace Stage at Theatre Passe Muraille and Born Ready has just begun.  Written by playwright Joseph Pierre , who also plays the role of Blackman, three characters narrate their struggle for respect and acceptance.

Peggy Sue is an attractive woman who needs to feel desired by men. Played by actress Cara Ricketts whose previous acting credits include Taming of the Shrew (Shakespeare Works) and Seamless Songs (Madhouse Theater), she sits on a couch, dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt and shares her story. She lacks parental love and is the object of jealousy by many girls.  At the tender age of thirteen she is drawn to men who can make her feel secure. There is a constant stream of men who pass through her life but never stay, denying her the acceptance she desperately needs.

The spotlight shines on Joseph Pierre, a Scarborough raised, York University grad with a BFA in acting, who plays the role of Blackman.  He speaks of the loss of both parents as a young child, forcing him to live with an aunt who worked “23 hours a day”.  “All I saw was her back”, he says.  Raised by his thirteen-year-old cousin, it is in her arms that he finds safety from the nightmares that torment him.

B-Side, played by Mike G. –Yohannes, who has worked with Reel World, CBC, and Obsidian, is an interesting character from the hood. He believes, “you live by the trigger and a prayer.”    The hood he tells us, is used to cover one’s head so you can’t be seen.  A symbol it seems, of his own struggle to be seen and respected.  He wants to get out of the hood, yet realizes it is the only place where he feels important.  To paraphrase a line from the play, he says, when a man has a little, he’s a man on the street to those who have none.  But at least he’s a man.

Each character tells their story, sharing the spotlight in a give and take that allows one to see the similarities and struggles, which lead them to their ultimate fate.  The stories are universal and it seems that the play could represent the streets of South Africa, New York or Toronto.

We’ve heard these stories before.  Stories of growing up in a rough neighborhood so poor and hungry that your ribs stick together, of trying to find acceptance through the love of a man or in the arms of a woman, and of trying to find respect in the streets.  “It’s the black man’s hustle,” says one of the characters.  “You have to keep pushing.  But sometimes you don’t want to push anymore,” says another.

Although familiar stories, they are presented in a fresh way through the staging of the characters.  Particularly noteworthy is Cara Ricketts enactment of a street fight between two men in the hood, resulting in bloodshed.  She gets into the minds of the two men, helping us understand what drives them to pull the trigger.  She thoughtfully concludes that if they could hit pause for a moment, they would recognize themselves in each other’s eyes.  Both demanding respect from the streets.

A credible, familiar story, Born Ready revisits the age-old struggle for power, respect and acceptance that is still very relevant today.

Born Ready is playing at Theatre Passe Muraille as part of the Stage 3 festival.

Search Site

Latest Articles

Apr 30, 2020

Finding Sally: HotDocs features Tamara Mariam Dawit’s intergenerational journey of remembrance and reckoning

in Movies by Meres J. Weche
Each year, the Hot Docs documentary festival — the largest in North America —… Read more >>
Feb 01, 2020

From LEGOs to Legacy: Ekow Nimako envisions Africa’s bright future

in Arts by Adele Ambrose
The AGA KHAN Museum presents Caravans of Gold Fragments in Time, from September… Read more >>
Nov 23, 2019

The Last Black Man in San Francisco — a tale of community

in Movies by Adele Ambrose
The Last Black Man in San Francisco marks the feature-length directorial debut… Read more >>
Oct 21, 2019

Illustrator Yasmeen Souffrant on designing your own path

in Careers & Workplace by Meres J. Weche
Montreal native and Haitian-Canadian, Yasmeen Souffrant, has loved drawing from… Read more >>
Oct 02, 2019

Finding agency through the lens

in Arts by Meres J. Weche
An interview with Sandrine Colard — curator of The Way She Looks photography… Read more >>

Latest on Instagram

Featured Events

No events found.

Join Our Mailing List

Advertise with us

Subscribe to podcast

Find a Job

AfroToronto.com participates in affiliate marketing programs, which means we may earn a commission if you purchase an item featured on our site. These affiliate links, along with advertisements, support us and they come to no expense for you.

Media KitPrivacy Policy | Member Access

Copyright © 2005-2020 Culture Shox Media. All rights reserved unless otherwise stated.