Medea (Tishanna Williams) appeals to a pedestrian in Port of Spain to listen to her story – Photo by Triston Wallace
The Caribbean premiere of Carnival Medea – a bacchanal opens at the Little Carib Theatre this Thursday, dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Joyce Wong Sang, the Grande Dame of the Prime Minister’s Best Village Trophy Competition. Mrs. Wong Sang, who passed away on January 14, was the original coordinator mandated to oversee the competition by her brother-in-law, the late Dr. Eric Williams. Director Rhoma Spencer, who is a Best Village Alumni, said Wong Sang single-handedly mobilized the villages across Trinidad and Tobago to come together in the field of the Performing Arts, Horticulture and the Culinary Arts.
A member of the Barataria Community Council from 1980 to 1999, where she began as a performer and later playwright, director, lighting designer and makeup artist, Spencer’s works are continuously inspired by the Best Village school of thought. Spencer said she remembers with fondness the training she received in the Barataria Community Centre, in preparation for the Best Village Competition. “Summer intensives at the Creative Arts Extra Mural Summer Camp, organized by the UWI, were basically populated by Best Village practitioners. There was training in drama, acting and improvisation, and dance by practitioners like Sonya Moze, Belinda Barnes, Valerie Bethel, Noble Douglas, to name a few. These were members of the faculty that were passing down their own expertise in their field of discipline to the common Best Village performer. As a result of that training, we went back to our communities a little more informed in our particular discipline and we were able to take our performance skills to another level when competition time came around. Part of our prizes were scholarships to go and study theatre at the Jamaica School of Dance, the Jamaica School of Drama or the Edna Manley School of Visual Arts, even as far as the New York School of Arts, at New York University”, Spencer disclosed.
It is for all these reasons she has opened up Carnival Medea’s Preview Performance to Best Village practitioners and community groups. She said she hopes that practitioners will see how “one can take and use original text and adapt it to some of the characteristics of what we know as Best Village, which is music, dance and drama, and how all this is incorporated in the staging of a production”.
Christopher Sheppard who is the choreographer of the production is also a Best Village Alumni, having worked with the Lower Morvant Best Village Group, and today still works as a tutor.
Carnival Medea – a bacchanal is a production of Lordstreet Theatre Company and is written by Dr. Shirlene Holmes of Georgia State University and T&T’s Rhoma Spencer. It retells the classic Greek tragedy of Medea and Jason 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 circa 1950s when the Traditional Mas characters were at their zenith of existence.
Carnival Medea – a bacchanal will run from February 9 to 12, February 16 to 19 and March 2 to 5 at the Little Carib Theatre. For further information, go to www.carnivalmedea.wordpress.com, find them on Facebook at “Carnival Medea – a bacchanal” and join their mailing list for updates and giveaways.