The Autobiography of I.B.M. — Intelligent Black Men at the Fringe Fest

By Stephen weir

Donald Carr

The Toronto Fringe Festival is back! The annual fete will present 150 plays and dance performances in theatres and bars across Toronto.

One of the come-out-of-nowhere hits this year is a quirky one-man show that gives a ribald look at history through the eyes of the Jamaican Canadian dancer, actor and playwright Donald Carr.  He calls his one-man show The Autobiography of I.B.M. — Intelligent Black Men and it has been making waves at the Tarragon Theatre (near Castle Loma) all this week.

“If you have trouble concentrating, don’t come to the theatre.” That is just one of hundreds of bon mots that Carr throws out at the audience during the 60-minute play. He probably made up the details of Alexander the Great’s great sex life and lied that he had an hot affair with Hercules back in another life, but this not a fringe festival show to miss.

“IBM is a sixty minutes hip-hop trip through the agonies and ecstasies of history,” Carr told the Caribbean Camera.  “My story is viewed through the lens of an intelligent black man blessed with an educated tongue!”

“We follow our teller of tales and weaver of words in rhapsodic musings through his-story, personal unveilings, myths and nursery rhymes to comment on our modern world. Shedding new insight on the roles myths and heroes play in our web-wired world where pop culture both needs and devours its idols.”

Carr says he is giving an inspired tribute to seven Intelligent Black Men: Marcus Garvey, Marley Bob, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. Muhammad Ali, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela. Autobiography of IBM is based on some fifteen years of extensive research and writing on Carr’s part.  It is the second of three plays in a trilogy he continues to work on.

Carr brings a tickle trunk full of props to the Tarragon.  African masks, Ancient Greek robes, a crown of lit LED lights and a child’s dolls that he likes to tie knots around the necks and string up!

Carr, even when he is wearing tribal robes and an African mask, is a slight man.  He has a dancer’s body and even though he is in his 70s he is nimble enough to lift a foot high in the air, grab his toes and hop one legged on stage while singing bits of a Bob Marley song and listening to the sound track of 2001 Space Odyssey.

Donald Carr was born in Kingston, Jamaica. He came to Canada in 1968, studied at York University, and trained with the Toronto Dance Theatre, The National Ballet of Canada, The Alvin Ailey Dance Company and Martha Graham Dance Company in New York. He has had formal stage training (his on stage resume is way way too long to list) and is a distinguished career as an innovative actor/director/playwright.

Carr will perform his this weekend: Thursday at 7.45pm, Friday at 5.45pm and Sunday at 12.15 pm.