Review by Carin Chea
For many artists, a bare stage can be a daunting canvas to fill. Fortunately, veteran performance artist Sardia Robinson is the ultimate painter, as she uses purely her imagination and expert story-telling to color a blank stage that houses only two props; small black boxes. This is an actor who understands her craft and seamlessly draws the audience into her story.
From a Yardie to a Yankee is Robinson’s personal and intimate story of her upbringing in Jamaica, where she lived without the comforts of running water and had the sole responsibility of carrying pails of water on top of her head for her household. Her story is poignant, heartbreaking, hilarious and ultimately victorious.
Robinson grew up in a neighborhood so frightening that even the police did not dare enter the vicinity. At the tender age of 10, her daily walks to school included encounters with gunmen cradling rifles and corpses that she would have to walk around. Yet Robinson skillfully turns such personal trauma into quirky, comedic and healing experiences. As our protagonist transforms into over a dozen characters during the course of her decades-long story, she takes the audience on a journey that crescendos in cackling laughter, then quiets into torrents of tears as we watch—horrified—at the tragedies endured by our heroine.
At the end of the evening, Robinson immediately receives a standing ovation. All around are grinning, tear-streaked faces. Standing, we all applaud her for her exceptional performance, infectious energy and vulnerability.
To be in Robinson’s presence is to see the face of abject courage and victory in the midst of world-bending tragedy. This is a story we all need to see.
“From a Yardie to a Yankee” played Sunday, January 21 at Whitefire Theatre Solofest. Whitefire Theatre is located at 13500 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks. Visit WhitefireTheatre.com.