A Woman’s Songbook – Welcome To Music Heaven from the Sahara of so Little Theatre

Image of Adrian Augier
By Adrian Augier

Adrian Augier shares just how good it feels to be simply gifted with ‘a good ear, good eye and a certain way with words’ and end-up scripting and producing ‘A Woman’s Songbook’ — a staged production ‘which marries wordcraft, image and melody… in a delightful disturbance full of humour, confession, celebration and angst’.

ALL my life I have longed to be a musician. Alas, this has not come to pass. The next best thing – for the time being – is my doting admiration for those blessed with the gift of divine magic; that secret joy bequeathed by gods.

Wish also, that I could sing. Despite my private opinion, I have been advised repeatedly, that this too has not come to pass.

What I have been granted – and am so very grateful for – is a good ear, a good eye, and a certain way with words.

Imagine then my delight, to be scripting and producing a stage production which marries wordcraft, image and melody.

Imagine iconic compositions spanning seventy years, bridging the lives of equally iconic women like Billie-H, Tina-T, Amy, Gladys, and Aretha.

Imagine your ears rejoicing and lifting you up to Music Heaven.

A Woman’s Songbook is punctuated with enduring melodies, revisited by a fresh combination of previously unmarried voices: Claudia Edward (Sophia), DarleeneAnius (Cathy), Diana Philip (Rhonda) and Jesmara Nelson (Lucy). They make a motley crew of candid, charismatic characters who bring out the best and the worst in each other.

Truth be told, A Woman’s Songbook started life as a mere list of songs. It has since blossomed into a compendium of emotional entanglements. The stage characters are four contemporary Caribbean women, challenged by life, love, choice and circumstance.

They are forced into uncomfortable proximity by bad weather and a single waterside umbrella at the Bomb Shell Marina Restaurant and Bar.

The inevitable result is a delightful disturbance full of humour, confession, celebration and angst.

The powerful yet inflective voices are supported by Naked Chords, a harmonic ensemble of talented musicians: Benton Jules (keys), Randolph Henry (drums), Stenick (KC) Talley (bass) and Anthony (Toffy) Joseph (guitar).

Like the performers they accompany, they have embraced the vision, and remained open to random suggestions from a learner like me, who barely knows a chord from an octave.

Maybe, Claudia instructed them to be on their best behaviour. Maybe, a quartet of guys playing with a quartet of gals plucked at my sense of symmetry. But most likely, it is the unassuming goodwill that the entire cast and crew have exuded from the very start.

Thankfully, they have also discovered the rewards of collaboration with their masterful director, Drenia Frederick and their virtuoso musical director, KensonHippolyte.

Together, they find ways to sift through my conflicted ambitions and find the gemstones within.

That collaborative ethic has made the performance more full bodied, edgy and provocative. While the characters own their hardships, they avoid the melodrama of victimhood. Instead, they negotiate their survival, navigating the intervening troughs and triumphs.

You will recognize them and their stories. They are people we often ignore but can now get to know. You may even wonder why you’ve never seen things quite their way. And that is what good theatre aims to do. As the old bard William-S instructed, we must “… hold a mirror up to nature to show virtue her own feature …”

In this sahara of so little theatre, A Woman’s Songbook is a must-see. Please don’t be one of those disappointed absentee patrons who ends up asking: “So… Y’all not doing it again… ???”

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The production premiered last night, Friday April 13 — and the second and final staging will be tonight, Saturday April 14, 2018, at the same venue: Sandals Grande, Pigeon Island Causeway, Gros Islet.)

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