JMUSE’s ‘Divining’ performance to retell story of Middle Passage


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JMUSE Productionz, which stands for Just Making Use of Soulful Expressions, will present “The Divining,” a production about the Middle Passage, at 8 p.m. Friday at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.

“The Divining” is based off the story by Maria Eliza Hamilton Abegunde called “The Ariran’s Last Life.” 

“The Ariran’s Last Life” tells the story of a young girl, Abiodun, who uses the Yoruban method of memory recall before she experiences the Middle Passage, the stage of the triangular trade that transported slaves from Africa to the New World.

Four musicians will play an array of instruments including piano, kalimba, flutes and trumpets.

“The production relays the sentiments of what we believe to be one of the greatest undocumented tragedies in human history,” Melody Barham, production manager for JMUSE Productionz, said. “We have artifacts from the Holocaust, but not from the
Middle Passage.”

Talks for creating the show began last summer during a dinner with JMUSE director Justin Merrick and his friends. Merrick said his friends knew he had wanted to put on a production about the Middle Passage and urged him to begin.

There will be 40 people taking the stage Friday.

“I wanted to create something outside of Black History Month that everyone could enjoy,” said Merrick, who is also the founder of JMUSE Productionz.

“I teach for the African American Arts Association,” he said. “When I started JMUSE, it was about being able to have a platform for students to enhance what they do.”

JMUSE Productionz has now grown to a group of about 50 people.

Head of publicity for JMUSE Productionz Robyn Coleman said she hopes people enjoy the hard work that was put into the production and learn as well.

“I want people to appreciate our retelling of the Middle Passage,” she said. “I really want them to feel what was happening and to feel the pain and the anguish. I want people to see our production as the beginning for exploring more and gaining knowledge.”

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