This article first appeared in the Nation Newspaper.
by KIMBERLEY CUMMINS
PRODUCER SOPHIA GREAVES as well as Pinelands Creative Workshop (PCW) Chief Executive Officer Rodney Grant, who wore many hats including that of artistic director, script developer and stage and lighting designer, take a bow.
If you talk about class act, then the PCW is the definition.
The assertion that PCW is in a league of their own was cemented when they treated an over capacity house to a glimpse of what legends look and sound like at the Parkinson Memorial School for their recent production, Mirror Image.
Hands down, the calibre of the 120-plus cast and production team could rival the likes of any top Broadway work. And those packed into the auditorium at the The Pine, St Michael school or peering through the louvres, certainly knew this as they stood to give a rousing applause as the curtain came down on what was the final night of the institution’s 38th anniversary celebration.
With limited space for such a large-scale production, choreographers Kim Clarke-Grant, Kimberley Jordan, Nadia Mitchell-Gittens, Shelly Durant-Forde and Tracy Gittens as well should be commended. And not to be left out are Suzanne Watson, Juneta Collins, Shontelle Chase and Coleen Clarke who must be praised for their distinctly detailed and fabulously eye-popping costumes.
Mirror Image sought to capture the defining moments in Barbadian history that helped to shape the journey towards Independence. It showcased the struggle of that journey with some of the elements that helped to carve a Barbadian character like the first Africans, the heavy British influence, the riots and revolution, in addition to the pomp the pageantry.
Persons who missed this event were certainly disadvantaged of an opportunity to experience the exceptionally exciting work which was crafted with beautiful songs, music, poetry and dance and which not only entertained but educated and enlightened.
Two hours for such quality work seemed not enough but it flowed as the well-cast actors, seasoned and less experienced dancers moved seamlessly through the vibrant, high-quality, multifunctional sets.
The play began in 1627 with The Arrivals and Pirate Days, highlighting the first indigenous people, Amerindians, the settlers and the slaves they brought to the island. These slaves were forced to abandon their culture and adopt that of the colonial masters, but the longing to reclaim their true identity was never broken.
This led the way to Struggles With Self; 1937 to 1966, the era that erupted into protest for social and economic equality and progress. These protests as demonstrated through the son, Times They Are A Changing, by Bob Dylan and by the speech of National Hero Clement Payne created the catalyst for resistance, rebellion, self-determination and self-examination. But somehow, there still remained a level of mental enslavement as the Banjo At School and the England or Germany scenes exemplified. The latter poked fun at how patriotic Barbadians were in their defence of the colonial masters, that is former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill against notorious German leader Adolf Hitler.
Banjo At School explored how local music was scorned and “classical” music revered. But calypsonian John King made a special guest appearance to render the classic Calypso Travelling as proof that local music should be celebrated. This act was topped by a tribute to the late patriarch of the Sons of God Apostolic Spiritual Baptist Church, Archbishop Granville Williams, whose arrival in Barbados signalled a new wave for Barbadians accepting their African identity.
The years 1966 to present time, Rituals of Freedom saw Barbados initiate a number of events that ritualised us as free people who could chart our own destiny and celebrate our cultures. But exploring this the question was raised if these “rituals” still bore any significance.
Further highlights included the hilarious and yet tragic No Inspiration For Caesar’s Aunt scene in the fourth act (2016- into the future). (SDB Media)