Wednesday evening, my friend and I are driving down San
Pablo looking for a garage, as in repair shop. This is where The Brothers Size is staged. I am
looking, pass the garage and have to turn around. When we pull up we see a
sign, and three actors walk by us. We hurriedly close the car doors and follow
the cast into the rear of the shop where there are folding chairs for the
audience; the seat of a vehicle which doubles as Oshoosi’s bed, complete with a
teddy bear, is in front of us along with cars in various stages of repair. We
learn later that Oshoosi believes in Santa Claus. You have to love a man who
admits this at twenty-one.
Big brother, Ogun Size works on cars. It’s his gift.
He and iron get along well. The ore speak to
him and he can make engines purr and horns sing basslines. He’s happy his kid
brother is back from a stint in prison. Like all families of incarcerated persons,
he suffered and felt the bars surrounded him just like his brother. When Oshoosi
walked back into his brother’s arms, both experienced freedom.
Oshoosi is the talkative brother. Ogun is annoyed and happy to hear the
chatter. Cars and metal don’t fill the space like another human being does.
Handsome, yet practical, Ogun has been taking care of Oshoosi for most of his
life, at least since their mother died and their Aunt Ellegua reluctantly took
the boys in. They laugh about it as adults, but one can see the pain, loneliness
and abandonment the two experienced as children.
Actor, Deleon Dallas’s Ogun Size is a man of few words but with a large heart,
while Terrance White’s Oshoosi Size has a youthful exuberance that is
We can see in Ogun’s eyes
pride in his little brother who has big dreams and the intelligence to succeed
in whatever he puts his mind too. As he listens to his brother speak about his
dreams of travel and college, he worries about Oshoosi, what he attracts and what
he can’t see in others whom attach themselves to his good nature like lint or
cockleburs. Elegba (actor William H.P.), a man he met in prison is like this.
Ogun tells his brother, “you don’t meet friends in prison,” yet Oshoosi doesn’t
understand what his elder brother means until it’s too late.
|William H.P.’s Elegba in center|
This is a story about black gods who are reduced to playing out their huge
lives on a stage drafted by their magnificence. Even William H.P.’s Elegba is
larger than the town which threatens the dignity of every black resident. The
one policeman, a black man, sees as his duty one of humiliation towards every
black citizen. That Elegba works at a funeral home, could foreshadow the death
sentence lingering in the shadows.
Brothers Size have each other. Elegba seems an outsider. He latches onto Oshoosi
like a puppy eager for a home. The home he knows best is prison, while Oshoosi
is free and does not plan to return. There is a subtle conditioning we see in
Elegba’s aura, absent in his friend’s. It is Ogun who holds the space for his
brother, even after he gets too old for lullabies, to feel freedom. Ogun tries
to give his brother space to live his life and make his mistakes, but Oshoosi
doesn’t have the luxury of living and learning. No black man does. One mistake
and the living is gone. Lessons are costly for the Size brothers.
Ogun is practical. He loves Oya , but knows he cannot compete when she turns
her gaze towards Shango. Shango is a player; he also has Oshun.
The god of iron and war, the goddess of the
winds and rains, hurricanes, storms; the goddess of beauty and love . . . meet at
the crossroads (Elegba). Choices have to be made. What will be the outcome for
the Size men?
Directed by Keith Wallace, with Stephanie Ann Johnson’s lighting design, Steve
Leffue’s sound design, Mary Hill’s set and Candance Thomas’s vocal couching and
directing, the weather Wednesday evening was lighting with occasional sprinkles.
The drama enhanced the production, especially when the men sang the prologue,
then again when Oshoosi and Elegba danced – it was more deceptive. An Elegba
kept entangling Oshoosi who was finding it harder and harder to escape the
Ogun dreams as they dance, then wakes to a premonition he cannot articulate.
There are many moments like this, where time stands still – dark moments,
moments where the humidity moans and mosquitos buzz and bite.
Sitting with an umbrella up in the second row
worked out pretty well since there was no on behind us. I was amazed that Ubuntu
theatre (for this production) is in an auto garage and yes, it was cold.
Bring a blanket and wear a coat. Bring a hot beverage in a thermos too.
Ubuntu co-founder, Colin Blattel
and his mother traveled by car from Oakland to Albany or further on San Pablo Avenue
looking for a garage to sponsor the play. The shops were not clamoring to say
yes, but I would certainly support a shop that supports Ubuntu Theatre. The
neighbors called the police multiple times during the first few days, requiring
the theatre to get permits and still the neighbors didn’t check out the theatre
and the performance. Perhaps they will before the show closes Wednesday-Saturday,
The Brothers Size is the new premiere this season. Grounded and Waiting for
Lefty are back. Crying Holy opened the season. Again site specific, George
Brant’s play, “Grounded” is at the Oakland Aviation Museum, 8252 Earhart Road,
Oakland for one week, closing August 15, 8 p.m., and Clifford Odet’s Waiting
for Lefty is at Classic Cars West, 411 26th
Street, September 3-12,
Wednesday-Sunday. I don’t see that Maya is being performed this year. There is
no show, Sept. 11. For all the details visit ubuntutheaterproject.com
For a recent interview listen at: http://tobtr.com/7831321