Iyaba Ibo Mandingo solos the drama of his identity

Iyaba Ibo Mandingo solos the drama of his identity. Born in Antigua, unwilling child immigrant to America, later the athlete, poet, Rasta, artist, father.

"unFramed" is an apt title with this solo narrative composed, performed, and illustrated by Iyaba Ibo Mandingo, known as "Kenny Athol George de Cruz" to his family. You will find moments in the piece where it would appear that there isn’t any room expansive enough for the passion of this artist, no frame satisfactory for the personal experiences Mandingo originates to share through diverse media. Emotions run the gamut from amusement to anger, with lots of feelings in between.

Don't Be Afraid of Me Because I’m Black

In the comfortable black box New Ohio Theatre, the crowd is welcomed with a blank canvas, a suitable launch for that rich story in the future. Because the drama begins, Mr. Mandingo enters by way of a poignant movement piece, shackled for a deportation hearing. This wordless opening sequence features powerful choreography by Margaret Liston, a former person in the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, and the solo artist of "Mentalpause."

Under Brent Buell's skillful direction, Mr. Mandingo confronts us, first, with racism, American style in Iowa before he turns to the roots of his own, admittedly imperfect, humanity. His opening address to the audience, "Don't hesitate of me because I am black," is as inviting as it is challenging. He has tapped into the crowd members' collective guilt about American history with their desire to be better humans.

Roots in Antigua

The first third from the show explores Mandingo's childhood in Antigua. The scene setting and feeling of place led to an awareness of the poignance of his later life. The matriarchal culture he lived in, laced liberally with art, came to a rapid end using the death of his grandmother, when his mother, a singer, decided to emigrate to America. Kenny did not want to go.

During this phase, Kenny began a monochrome self-portrait around the easel. Mandingo's media was acrylic mixed with dirt to fix his handmade strokes. Each new layer of experience from then on was illustrated with an additional use of nuanced color.

Multi-Media and Meaning

Mandingo, an effective slam poet who, based on Director Brent Buell, won Yale University's Martin Luther King Invitational Slam for the third amount of time in 2011, transitions easily between painting, singing, and reciting. A latecomer to slam by his own admission within an interview with Leona Beasley of Tarrytown Sleepy Hollow Patch, Mandingo makes up for lost time.

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    Like fellow story teller, Perseverence, the creator of "Flow," Mr. Mandindo has seasoned his drama like a Ny Theater Workshop Artist. While some of the story is recited, quite a bit more is acted, creating a level deeper reference to the crowd. "I, clay," he announced, explaining his chosen name by becoming the medium of their own message. Another such transformation occurred once the blue pigment staining his hand transmuted to a handgun barrel in a riveting sequence on the social cost of crack cocaine

    The Optimistic Vision

    Mr. Mandingo was honest in the reflections and spared nobody, least of all himself. His three decades of yankee history, resulting in a poetic 9-11 reflection, comprised a riveting devaluation of symbols because of institutional paranoia. Spoiler alert: The punishment for the love will surprise no one. The attention of the poet is apparent. Tony award-winning producer Jane Dubin of Double Play Connections has asked the audience to see with new eyes.

    solaNova Arts Festival–Story Telling Excellence

    "unFramed," by Iyaba Ibo Mandingo, was among ten solo pieces selected for that Ny soloNOVA Arts Festival this year. Now in its ninth year, soloNOVA has produced a lot more than 300 solo performers. Offering 8-10 performers each year enables Festival Producing Artistic Director Jennifer Connelley Darling and colleagues "to provide the very best in puppetry, dance, magic, physical theater, multi-character monologues,multimedia, and other types of solo storytelling.

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