“De Obeah Man” play hosted at FAU looks into Afro-Caribbean culture

Afro-Caribbean culture is given a closer look with the production of one of the culture’s legends


Photo by Alexandra Vanerven.

Alexandra Van Erven, Contributing Writer

Courtesy of Alex Bruno.

“When all else fails, try Obeah!” is the prominent line written across the house of the mysterious voodoo man, who is central to the story of “De Obeah Man,” bringing a piece of Afro-Caribbean folklore to life.

The play, written by Alex Bruno, looks into the nature of the Obeah man and its place in the Caribbean culture.

“De Obeah Man” was hosted by the fraternity Alpha Psi Omega and sponsored by Student Government in the Studio Two Theatre in the Arts and Letters building on the Boca Raton campus, from March 13-15. The show was free of charge, allowing students to come in and learn more about the mysterious folk magic and sorcery man in Caribbean culture.

“‘The Obeah Man’ was conceptualized following years of observation and, especially, after a brief discussion with an actual Obeah Man,” said playwright and artistic director Alex Bruno. “Obeah has been part of the Caribbean culture, or so it is believed, for many years and we felt that we should present our own take on the topic because we believe thatObeahis nothing but mind games.”

The story is made up of two acts and 13 scenes. It follows the lives of Abi,  Zio, Kero, Darwana and Sito. While Darwana is the grandniece of Kero, Sito and Zio are good friends of his, while Abi comes around trying to win the heart of Zio.

Their lives are on display while discussing and living around the idea of  the Obeah man, whose house is next to Kero’s.

The story shows the characters’ different experiences with the Obeah man, with the group not knowing that one of them is in fact the mysterious Obeah until the very end. The play strives to take a comical and relaxed way of addressing the Obeah man in Caribbean culture.

“The very meaning of Obeah is revisited and presented in a way which makes it palatable and maybe even laughable,” said Bruno. “Laughable because it has been proven that people consume serious information best when they can laugh about such matters.”

On premiere night, March 13, the seats were filled with 55 people, but the Saturday night showing only had about 20 audience members. Still, the entertaining, chaotic atmosphere and the powerful performances emitting from the production itself kept from making the empty seats a big deal.

Photo by Alexandra Vanerven.
Photo by Alexandra Vanerven.

“Our culture has different beliefs and opinions and ideas about Obeah,” said Ginelle Ferroll, who played Sito in the production. “I wanted to be part of the cast to show that they are all myths and jokes and the things that people say are not actually true. It is an exciting role.”

Many of the actors and actresses came from different countries to perform in the production, as the content of the play was close to their hearts.

“I am Jamaican by birth and currently reside in St. Thomas, and have been with this group for three years now,” said Andrene Johnson, who played Abi. “I feel that it’s fun coming together as a culture to travel all over to express what we’re about, including the things we can do in fun times and serious times.”

He continued, “Obeah was seen as something bad. People got scared if they’re Christian or of different religions, they wouldn’t want to be part of it. We show that you can actually have fun with it, it’s not real. They always have comparisons of what is Voodoo, what is Obeah, and we’re having fun with it, showing people that it’s really nothing.”

Mickael Ferrol, who played Kero and Mulveapa, said that “the first time I did the play I was in Dominica, and this is the first time putting on a play on a U.S. campus for me, so I really enjoy doing it.”

He added, “We just love acting together, bringing a piece of our culture to the stage to give an impression on how it is back in the Dominican Islands. This particular play highlights how Obeah is nothing to be frightened about, but more of a gimmick. I love bringing that idea across because it is a fun, educational and hilarious play.”