At home in Oistins

Broadway performer celebrates his Bajan roots

Last May at the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre off Broadway, Mijon Zulu – son of Barbadian Mary Symmonds – launched his Broadway career.

Little one and Father( Mijon Zulu) talk over the broken truth.
Cast members lift Mijon shoulder high as he sings.

Performing a leading role (father of the ‘Little One’) in the sold out Catherine Bush production of Old Turtle and The Broken Truth — a musical based on the Douglas Wood’s children’s book — he stood tall in the play that was subsequently nominated for two New York Innovative Theatre Awards as an outstanding Musical and for its Choreography.

One glowing review said: “In Old Turtle and The Broken Truth, a truth falls like a star from the sky and breaks into two pieces. When the villagers discover only half of the truth, it causes so many problems that Little One, a brave young girl, decides to search for the missing half.

“With the help of Old Turtle, and many animal friends, Little One is able to mend the broken truth and make it whole again . . . creating a better world for everyone. Old Turtle and The Broken Truth is a powerful allegory about accepting and welcoming differences, which will resonate with children and adults alike, particularly at a time when the world is doing otherwise.”

The musical was also described as “audience friendly and interactive”.

And after a pre-show with talking animals giving gifts to patrons, including a magic stone from a raccoon and sprigs of leaves from a butterfly, the small theatre came alive as actors, musicians and singers, packed every square inch of space within a forest setting, as invited patrons participated in the songs and animated routines.

The musical ended on a high note with the cast carrying Mijon – a classically trained singer – shoulder high as he sang, You are loved … and so are they.

Mijon Zulu was portrayed in the musical’s brochure as half Zimbabwean and half Barbadian but he jokingly described himself as “a Bajan-Zambian-Zimbabwean American”.

“I was born in America, but my childhood was largely spent in Africa where my father is from,” he said while happily admitting that his mother’s strong hand had exposed him to Bajan traditions.

“I spend the majority of my vacations in Barbados. I feel that this has colored many parts of who I am, be it from listening to calypso and learning to whine as a child, dancing in the streets for Crop Over – which always comes around near my birthday.

“I know about Sunday family dinners, simply being polite, valuing education and excellence, feeling at home by the sea, longing for fish cakes, jug jug, bread pudding, and staying in contact with my cousins all over the world. Although I have traveled widely, I feel at home in Oistins and on Maxwell Coast, two places I have been coming before I could think. “

Mijon also treasures his African heritage.

“I am certainly proud to descend from a culture as strong and famous as Shaka Zulu’s who were the “Romans” of Southern Africa. I am also glad to appreciate a different pace of life, to be relatable and unpretentious, to value loyalty, family and generosity greatly, and to have a respect for the honour of my family.

“Having lived in Africa and being raised Bajan also allows me to have balance, to relate to both sides of my parents’ culture and hopefully honour both.”

The play was produced by The Rebel Playhouse. The educational theatre company focuses on children and family productions that break traditions and normative thinking. The company also believes productions that demonstrate rebellion against established stories will stimulate the imagination of children and help them to create their own stories.

Two months after Old Turtle, his first step, Mijon is very busy, proud, grateful and moving forward. He produced and did a solo performance in the cabaret called Don’t Tell Mama. He also played Sheriff Schmid in a stage presentation of Bonnie and Clyde. Mijon will be in the Ensemble and understudy Ole Mister in a production of The Color Purple at the Arts Center of Coastal
Carolina in South Carolina, in September and October.

Source: (Walter Edey)

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