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Artword mounts a new workshop production at Trane Studio, 964 Bathurst St, Toronto.
Sunday September 30, 2007

Ghost Ship

a new theatre work about the Senegalese migrants to Europe

produced by Artword Cultural Projects
script by Judith Sandiford and Ronald Weihs, directed by Ronald Weihs,
music direction and performance by Waleed Abdulhamid,
choreography by Muoi Nene
performed by:
Seifu Belachew, Muoi Nene, Alexandra Semakula, Stella Umeh.

Two shows only: 3:30 and 8 pm, $10 at the door

Funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Ghost Ship is an original script by Judith Sandiford and Ronald Weihs, with music by Waleed Abdulhamid, directed by Ronald Weihs and choreographed by Muoi Nene. The script is based on factual material, including first-hand accounts and forum discussions on Senegalese websites.

Ghost Ship tells the story of the recent perilous migrations in small boats by West Africans attempting to reach Europe via the Canary Islands. The "ghost ship" of the title is a small boat discovered adrift off the coast of Barbados in April 2006. In the boat were 11 emaciated corpses, young men from Senegal who had set out for the Canary Islands, a Spanish possession, attempting to reach Europe. This incident brought world attention to the phenomenon of migrants from West Africa setting out in small boats to try to make a better life for themselves.

Director Ronald Weihs comments: "Ghost Ship is the latest in a series of works over the years in which I have been exploring the interplay between the conventions of narrated story (epic voice) and theatre (dramatic voice). This mixing of conventions is particularly effective for material that is factual and issue-driven. The dramatic convention holds a mirror up to nature. The storytelling convention breaks through that mirror, engaging the audience directly, declaring "We want you to know this". Interweaving the two allows great flexibility. Everything changes from one moment to another. Naturalism becomes one device among many. Ideas can be depicted, spoken, sung or danced. Essential to this approach is ensemble acting. The company tells a story together, helping each other to do so, interacting like a jazz band. I look for actors who also have skills in music, movement and dance."

Artword has assembled a strong ensemble for Ghost Ship, most of whom have worked with Ronald Weihs and Judith Sandiford on previous projects. Waleed Abdulhamid, a noted Toronto musician of Sudanese background equally skilled in jazz and world music, was Music Director and performer for Market of Tales, a co-production by AfriCan Theatre Ensemble and Artword Theatre in 2005.

Muoi Nene, originally from Kenya, has appeared in ATE/Artword productions of Fate of a Cockroach and Market of Tales. Seifu Belachew, originally from Ethiopia, and Alexandra Semakula, originally from Uganda, were both in Market of Tales. New to Artword's ensemble is Stella Umeh, a former Olympic gymnast, who performed for over five years with Cirque de Soleil, and was most recently seen in Toronto in Pinteresque at Summerworks 2007.

In February 2008, Artword is remounting If Cows Could Fly in Ottawa at the new Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre mainspace, home of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. Written and performed by Allan Merovitz, If Cows Could Fly is a Klezmer musical that tells how a Jewish family came to settle in Smiths Falls in the Ottawa Valley.