For a second time T&T’s creative spaces will experience a “Bajan Invasion”. In the ’90s, Trinbagonian airwaves were taken over by Barbadian soca artistes, and now T&T theatre will be invaded by actors Sonia Williams and Levi King.
The two Barbadians will play key roles in the cast of Carnival Medea, scheduled to take place in February and March at the Little Carib Theatre, Port of Spain.
A production of Lordstreet Theatre Company, written by Dr Shirlene Holmes of Georgia State University and T&T’s Rhoma Spencer, Carnival Medea retells the classic Greek tragedy of Jason and Medea using T&T’s traditional mas characters. The Grenadian Medea, a Baby Doll, flees Carriacou with Jason, a Tobagonian stick fighter, to live in Trinidad. After some years of marriage, he forsakes her to marry a younger woman. Distraught, she is determined to wreak havoc on the new bride and spite Jason where it hurts the most—by denying him access to his two sons.
The production is set in T&T in the 1950s, when the mas characters were at their zenith of existence.
Williams, who is a performance artist, theatre director, writer, educator in theatre arts, inspirational speaker and activist, plays the role of Nen/Mama Neza.
“It’s a spiritual and growing experience for me. The play is a wonderful play and I like the structure of the piece. I’m very excited to be in Trinidad again to perform it and to experience the culture and people of Trinidad,” she said.
King, who plays the role of Tan/Chantwelle, is an award-winning actor and director, as well as a singer and songwriter. It’s his first time in Trinidad and the first time he’s travelled to do this type of work.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to open some doors—not just for myself, but possibly for other theatre practitioners where I come from. I really love this script and the treatment of it. I love how they took the ancient Greek play and added the Caribbean and Orisha elements to it. I think that is a wonderful blend of cultures.”
The decision to audition Barbadian actors was made after Spencer was approached by Amanda Cumberbatch, theatre officer of the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) of Barbados, to conduct auditions via Skype. Cumberbatch said she made the suggestion because she believes an initiative like this is vital to the future of regional theatre.
“We are all small nations with limited markets for the arts. As such, inter-cultural opportunities like this create a necessary next step for performers, where actors can work more, earn more and gain wider exposure.
“It will also encourage regional performers to become more proficient in pan-Caribbean approaches—learn each others’ accents and vernacular culture, our ways of doing things.”
CEO of the NCF Cranston Browne said the foundation is pleased to partner with Lordstreet Theatre.
“Local actors stand to benefit from the creation of an infrastructure that facilitates working in other Caribbean territories. This means greater employment opportunities, exposure to the expertise of specialists from other parts of the region and, through contact with them, an expansion of skills and capacity. Ultimately, this will make our actors more marketable, and further develop the industry’s network.”
Carnival Medea will run on February 9 to 12, February 16 to 19 and March 2 to 5 at Little Carib. Visit carnivalmedea.wordpress.com or find Carnival Medea – a bacchanal on Facebook and join the mailing list for updates and give-aways.