Jamaica Farewell at the Fringe Building Downtown

It seems the beginning of 2010 in Indianapolis theatre is all about one person plays. So far, Indianapolis audiences have seen four different actors on two different stages in a myriad of roles: Call Me Boricua!, Pretty Fire, The Year of Magical Thinking and After Paul McCartney.The indyFringe Building joins this growing trend in Indianapolis performing arts with Jamaica Farewell, running March 5 through 21.

This Indianapolis arts event offers glimpse into the life of Jamaican born actor and writer Debra Ehrhardt, as she chased the elusive dream of moving to the United States. In a similar vein as Call Me Boricua!, Jamaica Farewell, delves deep into the immigrant experience in America. Both plays are written and performed by immigrants to the United States, but differ in two major ways. Firstly and most obvious, both experiences were not doubt colored by gender, which happens to be different from one performer to the next. And unlike Ricardo Melendez, Debra Ehrhardt was not already a citizen of the United States when she emigrated from Jamaica. It will be extremely interesting to understand another side of the same coin through the eyes of a woman, who, no doubt, had a much different experience.

Jamaica Farewell follows the true life story of Debra Ehrhardt as she sought to escape from her revolution consumed homeland. As a child she dreamed of living in America, with theme parks, candy stores and sky scrapers. Her tumultuous home life left her dreaming for a number of years. At the tender age of seventeen, Ehrhardt found her chance when she met the lovestruck Jack Wallingford, a smitten CIA agent, who would unwittingly help her achieve the biggest goal in her life to that point.

In an adventure of a lifetime, Ehrhardt pushed the boundaries of sanity and safety, all for the purpose of finally landing on American soil. Taking advantage of the infatuated and unknowing Wallingford, Ehrhardt agreed to smuggle a large sum of money to Miami. Through her adventure, she speaks to the many barriers faced by immigrants as they attempt to get to the United States. But the risks, she says, are worth it for so great a reward. After living in a country where class and economics determine your life path from birth, the idea that dreams could come true in America kept her plugging away at her destiny.

After Debra Ehrhardt landed in Miami at the young age of seventeen, she headed north to New York City to study acting at the Playwrights Horizons and the William Esper Studios. When her tropical blood did not agree with the frozen winters of the Northeast, Ehrhardt headed west to Los Angeles, where she currently resides. After repeated rejection in the acting world, due to her mixed racial heritage and thick Jamaican accent, Ehrhardt decided to make opportunities for herself once again.

Her first one woman play, Mango Mango, was met with critical acclaim. She was nominated for the NAACP Theatre Awards, including Best Actress and Best Playwright. Her second play, Chairs, was produced by David Strasberg in Hollywood and ultimately purchased by FOX as a situation comedy. Jamaica Farewell opened to an Off-Broadway run in New York in 2007. For it she received a Proclamation from the City of New York for her “Outstanding Contribution to the Jamaican Community.” She has toured the show in both Canada and the United Kingdom, and is currently working to adapt it for the silver screen.

For more information, visit Debra Ehrhardt’s official website. And be sure to look for my review next week! Don’t miss this Indianapolis culture event at the indyFringe Building on Mass Ave from March 5 to March 21. The organizers of the beloved indyFringe Theatre Festival are working year round to enlarge and enrich the overall fabric of theatre in Indianapolis.

Head to Indianapolis downtown for a wonderful and engaging experience. Grab dinner at the Indianapolis restaurants in the Indianapolis cultural district, Mass Ave. After the show, enjoy drinks at the numerous and nearby Indianapolis bars. Stay tuned to Indianapolis News, Events and Information on Fun City Finder.com for all the latest on fun things to do in Indianapolis. This is Katelyn Coyne saying, “Get out in Indy and find some fun!”

Jamaica Farewell
March 5 through March 21, 2010

IndyFringe Theatre Festival
The IndyFringe Building
719 E St. Clair St
Indianapolis, IN46202