Kama La Mackerel is a Montreal-based, Mauritian-Canadian multi-disciplinary artist whose recent one person show at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre pushes back against the boundaries that define gender identity.
The performance, a poem within itself, is a glimpse into the realities of Mackerel’s life growing up queer/trans against a backdrop of historical slavery and colonialist oppression. Zom-Fam means “man-woman” or “transgender” in Mauritian Kreol and is at the heart of La Mackerels search for self. Zom-Fem is a compelling story that is as moving and as it is thought-provoking. Punctuated by La Mackerel’s sense of humour, their journey of self-discovery is brought to life through the wisdom and history of their ancestors.
Making this performance bitter sweet is the fact that this show almost never saw the light of day, twice in 2020 had to be cancelled when theatres in their hometown of Québec were ordered to shut down due to COVID. Mackerel was in development with Zom-Fam for fours years prior to this so the cancellations forced them into a period of suspended animation while watching the world go into lockdown mode. Now, two years later, Zom-Fam has found a stage through the help of Buddies In Bad Times Theatre and Montréal arts interculturels.
In a recent blog post La Mackerel describes the creative process for this show as “long and arduous”, however it clearly has paid off.
La Mackerel is in the space before the 8PM start time. They remain in a motionless, meditative state, flanked between some cinder blocks and a pillar of salt. Surrounded by a ceremonial circle of pedals the show ends with them carrying the burden of those pedals, perhaps a metaphor to serve that can serve as a reminder that the very systems keeping one safe can also control and suppress.
During the one hundred minute performance, La Mackerel’s queer-trans coming of age story is told through movement, dance, personal poetry and prose, giving voice and space to the harrowing effects of growing up against a backdrop of sugarcane plantations and colonialism.
Is this there a next stop for Zom-Fam? Following last nights successful premiere, La Mackerel suggested to me that there might be. Fingers crossed. •
November 1 & 2, 2022
November 3-5, 8PM
Photos (above) by Vanessa Fortin.
Kama La Mackerel’s website: