Black Humour, Dark Stars
Written and directed by Arthur Meek, one of New Zealand’s most celebrated young playwrights, Dark Stars is an exciting solo play starring Jonathan Council, who portrays a version of his own life journey. In seeking his big acting break, Council is propelled by misfortune to a tiny island in the Pacific where he unearths the forgotten story of Australasia’s popular Black Minstrel, Irving Sayles.
Dark Stars weaves together the stories of two African-Americans living a hundred years apart in an examination of racist humour and the price paid for lusting after fame at the expense of dignity. Sayles was an entertainer with one of the largest minstrel companies in the mid Western US providing audiences with stereotypical presentations of African American culture. After the Civil War in 1888 and aged just 16, he fled to Australia. He subsequently became a well loved figure on the Australian stage moving to New Zealand to continue his career in vaudeville until his untimely death on a Christchurch street in 1914.
“This work has been a true collaboration with Jonathan”, Meek tells us, “He wanted to bring to life the story of Irving Sayles who was a hugely talented comedic entertainer whose humour was self-deprecating and racist, a product of the segregated world he lived in”.
Dark Stars at The Basement, Auckland on February 10th and 11th before heading to Wellington as part of the New Zealand Fringe Festival and then on to Adelaide.