As a son of immigrant parents who has spend most of my life in the south and lived in Alabama for ten years while a student at Auburn University,  I could identify with the premise of this play Harabel.

I have witness the sacrifices my parent in order to guarantee a better future for me.  I am well aware of the tales from the old country Colombia, South America but at the same time I am as Southern as any Georgian can be.

Tom Key last year raved about his the semi autobiographer story written and performed by Jonida Beqo in Harabel by Gypsee Yo at the Gift of the Magi curtain speech and I was anticipating the performance.  “Harabel” means “Sparrow” and this story is a sweet flight into a new land.

It is a tale of a young woman’s journey from war torn Albania to America ending up in Alabama for a short stint and ending up in Georgia.  All the while she found love, had a daughter, and made her way working as a seamstress.  She sought to culturally assimilate while still maintaining her native land’s identity. Jonida Beqo is well known in Atlanta theatre circus as top “wardrobe mistress” and also performance poet.  This premiere is a jump to share her story on a larger stage.

This one act play starts off in the setting being behind the scenes of where the magic of theatre begins- the wardrobe room. A place full of fine silks, mismatched shoes, and all type of sewing equipment.  There Gypsee Yo, as she notes, touches the actors in a more intimate way than their own lovers to create an outfit that makes them shine. All the while she moves in and out of different periods of her life. All the while she masterfully uses the wardrobe props as part of her flashbacks to precise moments.

This play premiere is a new road for this poetry slam champion and sometimes her lines do come out as if she is reciting instead of re-living the moment. The multiple themes of cultural acculturation, love, war, and rural life create bumpy transitions. However, this production does have potential to be an intimate portrait of the American spirit, it needs a bit more editing and tightening up, at times I was lost at where she was heading.

There are some touching moments such as when she goes back to her native Albania after a long absence and you can feel the sacrifice she has taken as she spends time with her family.  Another scene is when she finally was accepted by the small rural town in Alabama by a simple gesture of being given a bible of her own, she had become part of that community.  She also is torn when she was asked to create a wedding dress after being paid an amount with many zeros even though she wanted to insert her opinion to the bride of what she felt she needed instead of what the bride wanted.

Directed by Justin Anderson, Harabel by Gypsee Yo and written and performed by Jonida Beqo is one strand of a single story of one immigrant’s journey into becoming part of the fabric of the USA.

For two nights only, one more chance to check her out on January 12, 2012 at the Theatrical Outfit. Find out more info about this virtuoso performer:

Coming up next on the Theatrical Outfit Stage is Fly on January 30- February 24, 2013 and then The Fabulous Lipitones also directed by Justin Anderson on March 27-April 21, 2013.

For tickets and more information visit: or call 1-877-725-8849.

Don’t miss out an opportunity to check out the Theatrical Outfit, a place where they tell “stories that stir the soul”


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