A Mato Mosaic


Over the last semester, a group of SIUE students have had the opportunity to learn more about Maroon culture theater under the guidance of of visiting professor Jose Tojo. Last week they were given the chance to show off the fruits of their labor in “A Mato Mosaic.”

The work is a combination of American theater practices and the traditions of the Mato pee, a social gathering and theatrical form practiced by the Maroons in Suriname. Traditionally the pee is a place for passing on culture from one generation to the next through the performing arts. In the case of “A Mato Mosaic,” the students worked with Tojo to create their own play about a Mato pee.

“I am happy to share my way of life with the young talent at SIUE.” Director Jose Tojo explains. “In teaching them theater, I also teach them a part of my culture.”

Within the play is a central story told by a stranger to the village at the pee. During this performance, those present are invited to interject their own stories and songs into the performance at large with the proclamation of, “And I was there.” The result is a series of short plays contained withing a larger play that is contained within an even broader play. The songs featured in the play are traditional Maroon songs in their native language, with the possible exception of when an eager audience member decides to interject a story and song of their own.

The entire experience is one of cultural exchange and understanding set in a very casual and light hearted tone.

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