Central Square Theatre hosts “Ti-Jean and His Brothers”

TI-JEAN & HIS BROTHERS: From Left: Cedric Lilly (Mi Jean), Kervin George Germain (Ti-Jean), and Hampton Sterling Fluker (Gros Jean).TI-JEAN & HIS BROTHERS: From Left: Cedric Lilly (Mi Jean), Kervin George Germain (Ti-Jean), and Hampton Sterling Fluker (Gros Jean).Mattapan resident Kervin George Germain has the title role in Derek Walcott’s “Ti-Jean and His Brothers,” a musical drama that has been in continuous production around the world since it was written in 1957 and now is being revived in Boston to celebrate, among other things, Black History Month.

Through March 13, Central Square Theater marks the 30th anniversary of Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott’s founding of Boston Playwrights’ Theatre at Boston University and commemorates the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti with this local production of the Saint Lucian playwright’s powerful folk parable.

“Ti-Jean and His Brothers” centers on a Caribbean family in crisis.  Despite being warned of the “hidden nets of the devil” by their mother, the three brothers, one by one, must confront evil on their own terms. Walcott’s tale of creative survival finds a special urgency in this production which is inspired by the culture and history of Haiti, in particular that island’s rich musical and visual art traditions.

Mattapan’s Germain, who plays Ti-Jean, became interested in theater after playing Santa Claus in a seventh grade show. At Boston Arts Academy, he learned fight choreography as Young Siward in “Macbeth” and played Sam in the South African drama “‘Master Harold’...and the Boys.”

Also in the company is Dorchester resident Tamyjah Thompson, who has studied and performed extensively with the Wheelock Family Theatre. She is understudying the role of Bolom.

Walcott collaborated with Trinidadian Andre Tanker on the music and lyrics for this show, the first of Walcott’s works to have a score.

In blending a morality play and a West Indian fable, the playwright explained his use of folklore and dialectical speech in this work: “The great challenge for me was to write as powerfully as I could without writing down to the audience, so that the large emotions could be taken in by a fisherman or a guy on the street, even if he didn’t understand every line.”

The play celebrates the triumph of native resourcefulness over imperialist power and also comments on racism and the exploitation of the poor by the wealthy. 

Throughout the run there will be pre-show performances and celebrations of Haitian art and culture, all free with the price of admission.  Post-show conversations will feature Haitian scholars, artists, and activists. 

“Ti-Jean and His Brothers” is a co-production of Underground Railway Theater and Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. The director Megan Sandberg-Zakian has directed for Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company and the Providence Black Repertory Company.
Call (866) 811-4111 or visit www.centralsquaretheater.org. The theater is located at 450 Mass. Ave. in Cambridge.