‘Zingay’ navigates spirits and laughter

The cast of “Zingay” from left: Karen Joseph, Curtis Browne, Sharon James and Tala Albert.
Heatwave Productions

The Caribbean has many stories about spirits and black magic.

Those stories take center stage — literally — in the play “Zingay,” manifesting in Fort Greene on Feb. 20. The one-act performance will take the audience on a comedic journey of jealousy, violence, and the world of obeah women — those who use folk magic and sorcery. But it is also a reflection on Caribbean tradition, storytelling, and culture, said its director Faith Armstrong.

“For me, ‘Zingay’ is the story our grandparents told us,” said Armstrong. “I would like the audience to take away how rich the Caribbean culture is, tradition is, and how much of an impact those stories had on us growing up.”

Written by Trinidadian playwright Freddie Kissoon in 1966, “Zingay” was adapted for this production by Armstrong and producer Marlon Gervis. The story follows a married couple, played by Karen Joseph and Curtis Browne, who suspect that someone has cast a type of black magic on their child.

The two clash over whether to seek help from a neighborhood obeah woman — the wife believes in the stories of evil spirits told by her grandmother, but her husband is more skeptical.

“He doesn’t approve or believe in those things, but the wife is very gullible and was raised around that storytelling,” Armstrong said.

“My character is a very concerned mom who is very spiritual and believes everything anyone tells me,” said Joseph.

Despite the comedic nature of the play, some its more serious elements made the show more difficult for Armstrong to get ready than her previous play “Letters from Leonara.”

“This one is more challenging for me because it is a fun play but it’s also somewhat a heavier play,” she said. “I had to work a little bit more to get the cast members into character, there is fighting, jealousy, arguments.”

The prominent role of spirits in the play was also a challenge for some of the mixed Caribbean cast.

“Dealing with the obeah spirits you will find some people are not comfortable acting certain parts,” Armstrong explained.

The show is only scheduled to run for one night, but Joseph has grand hopes for bringing it to a larger stage.

“It’s a lot of fun and I hope we can bring it back and do it on Broadway,” Joseph said.

Zingay at Brooklyn Music School [126 St. Felix St. between Lafayette Avenue and Hanson Place in Fort Greene. (347) 692–9428. zingay.eventbrite.com]. Feb. 20 at 8 pm. $30.

Reach reporter Alley Olivier at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at aoliv[email protected]nglocal.com. Follow Alley on Twitter @All3Y_B.

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