“Pantomime” by Nobel prize winner Derek Walcott unites Portland’s BaseRoots, an African American Theatre Company and Readers Theatre Repertory in honor of Black History Month. Co-directed by Bobby Bermea and Wendy Wilcox, the story explores what happens when a down-and-out white song and dance man recruits his Black servant to play opposite him in “Robinson Caruso” — with the roles reversed.
Set in the West Indies, the master-servant switch explores race, the decline of the British Empire, the clash of calypso and classical acting and more. Variously hilarious and insightful, this “skin deep” story delves well beyond.
“RTR has been on the hunt for a great story to celebrate Black History month,” says Wilcox. “‘Pantomime‘ marries so much of our mission: it’s an intimate story of two men wrestling with identity; it’s smart, funny, and thought-provoking.”
Writer Derek Walcott was born in the West Indies and as a writer admired T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. Walcott founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop in 1959, and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992, the first Caribbean writer to receive the honor. English poet Robert Graves wrote that Walcott “handles English with a closer understanding of its inner magic than most, if not any, of his contemporaries”.
The cast includes Bobby Bermea and Jonah Weston.