Letters & Opinion

Young Performers Hit the Mark in Tribute to Sir Derek Walcott

By Steven Joseph
Image of Nobel Literature Laureate Derek Walcott

ON Friday 17th January 2020 at the Cultural Center, Barnard Hill, Castries, the lyricism of Sir Derek Walcott was creatively expressed by a cast of young performers. The YouthSpac creative energies which brought this production together delved profoundly into the literary selections and aimed simply to vividly portray the messages comprehended through their pre-production discussions and rehearsals.

For the students and teachers in attendance, the Cultural Center was an effective classroom where the myth of how difficult it is to understand Walcott’s poetry was given second thoughts. Indeed, the production provided the opportunity for students of Theatre Arts and English Literature to interact with Sir Walcott’s work. From the centrifugal excerpt ‘The Sea Is History’, the hour and fifteen minutes performance unfolded bringing to awareness two relevant questions posed in the first stanza: “where are your monuments, your battles, martyrs? Where is your tribal memory?” And in the answer provided Director Kentillia Louis and her creative collective found the major motif: ‘The Sea’.

The collage was pasted together with various excerpts from ‘The Sea Is History’, ‘Drums and Colours’, ‘The Schooner’s Flight’ ‘Sea at Dauphin’, ‘Omeros’, ‘Star Apple Kingdom ‘, ‘Joker of Seville’, ‘Acacia Trees’, – poetry and plays. These pieces were cleverly stringed or threaded together by the symbolic waves, which were simply elucidated through movements and costuming. All narratives emerged through the ebb and flow of the sea. Our collective stories surfaced and revealed and then submerged into memory.

The performance was tremendously successful as acclaimed by the audience and one came out of it mindful of the power of the theater to serve as an arena for the discussion of every social issue imaginable and to illustrate complex meaning in a simple way. One was able to appreciate aesthetic notions and the relevance of Sir Derek Walcott’s literary genius and poignancy of the issues which he was concerned with in his works.

The cast of young actors and dancers deserve our resounding applause as they demonstrated high regard for the work that they were engaged in. Voice, speech and diction were incredible and characterization a boon.

There were flaws to be found, but these most definitely were not in the spectacle before the audience, it was in the Front-of-House. The lateness of personnel and the opening and closing of the entrance/exit doors of the theater during the performance. This behaviour is despicable, contrary to practice. This has been a sour point at this venue and must be stopped. When you are late for a performance, face the consequences of your tardiness and let those who respect the conventions enjoy the fruits of their discipline, please don’t interrupt with your Lucian time attitude.

As part of The Nobel Laureate Festival, secondary school students were given a conducive classroom away from their usual campuses.

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