Ashes to Africa

The Ensemble Theatre presents a family drama about going home (in more ways than one)

Grandmothers can be so difficult. That’s what Marta Henderson finds out in Mark Clayton Southers’s Ashes to Africa, a family story about a nana’s dying wish to have her remains sprinkled over Africa. In the play, Marta arrives home from college for the funeral, finds a poem her grandmother wrote and realizes she didn’t want to be buried. But when she tries to get the family to respect the old woman’s wishes, she runs into lots of angry relatives. As one character puts it: “We usually don’t do that kind of thing. It’s just not customary, not for black folk.”

Besides the question of what to do with grandma, there’s the fact that Marta’s mother and father haven’t slept together for several months. Oh, and that Marta’s cousin has been living in Grandma’s house, driving Grandma’s car and not getting her life straight while Marta’s been busy at Spellman College in Atlanta struggling to achieve the American Dream. It all adds up to a family war that only an outsider would find funny, which is exactly what director Eileen Morris hopes will happen.

Of course, there’s a little bit of drama stirred into the mix — the story does start with a funeral, after all. See the family battle it out at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays. Through May 25. The Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main. For information, call 713-520-0055 or visit www.ensemblehouston.com. $15 to $35.
Thursdays, 7:30 p.m.; Fridays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: May 1. Continues through May 25, 2008

 
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