|Theatre gets its due
By VERDEL BISHOP Saturday, August 18 2007
Theatre in Trinidad and Tobago continues to develop and evolve as actors continue to take their talent to the next best level. This new phenomenon has also seen an incredible upsurge with the number of performing groups throughout the country.
This was evident at the Cacique Awards ceremony at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s, on August 3.
According to Glenn Davis, veteran actor and Most Outstanding Actor winner for his role in the production Beef No Chicken, “More and more people have taken up the trend of spending their leisure evenings coming to see local plays during the theatre season.
“Years ago we had one type of audience, now everybody is coming to the theatre,” Davis said. He also noted that there is a lot of earnest preparation and rehearsal in theatre, with respect to detail.
“Theatre is hard work, but I have always found it a privilege to be an actor. The work has incorporated almost all my interests,” he said.
“Theatre season begins from Carnival straight to early August, and then continues from October to December. Most theatre performances take place during these periods. Although there is a larger audience for plays, a lot of people still don’t know much about theatre because they have this notion that theatre is only for the elite,” Davis said.
“There are seven different types of plays – comedy, romantic comedy, romance, tragedy, romantic tragedy, political and political tragedy. We see more comedic plays in Trinidad because these are the plays that people come to see. What is happening now is ever since Mary Could Dance, people tend to like that type of play. People want to come and laugh but they also want substance,” Davis explained.
Theatre is now seen as a social endeavour. It can educate and entertain at the same time. People enjoy theatre because despite being practical and physical, it also involves emotions and feelings. Davis observed that theatre goers don’t just want bacchanal.
“People fed up of the bacchanal. They want more classic laughter shows,” he said. “I saw big men crying in Mary Could Dance, because that play broke a lot of barriers. It was a serious play but you laughed all night,” he said.
Davis also observed that theatre needs more space. “There are three theatres in Port-of-Spain – Queen’s Hall, Central Bank Auditorium and Little Carib Theatre. We need more space for theatre. Look at how many malls we have in Trinidad. None of them are thinking of accommodating a theatre. People might go to dinner at these malls and then take in a play after,” he said.
Speaking on the issue of space for local theatre, at the Cacique awards ceremony, Culture Minister Joan Yuille-Williams assured the artistic fraternity that the new facility at the Savannah will not only house a state-of-the-art Carnival centre, but it will include a first class centre for the performing arts. “The facility will be designed to encompass a first class centre to accommodate the Academy for the Arts for both North and South,” the minister said.
For most of us fortunate enough, or who took the time to patronise any of our local productions, to see our talented thespians, whether it was to take in the scandalous comedy Mary Could Dance, the phenomenal Ogun Iyan as in Pan or derek walcott’s classic production Beef No Chicken, or the latest comedy I Love You Till Someone Better Comes Along, without a doubt, you may have come to realise that the experience of live theatre is vital for social skills.
Theatre exposes tourists as well as locals to unfamiliar cultures, new ideas, and diverse view points.
Albert La Veau, artistic director of the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, told Newsday that a society can’t call itself civilised unless it focuses on artistic development. La Veau describes theatre as an activity of the greatest refinement. He agreed that theatre is becoming a more vibrant industry.
“A good play teaches you how to live. Theatre gives you a peep into other lives and can provide valuable moral instruction,” he said.
“Acting and direction require self-observation and observation of others. An actor needs to know what is happening inside him emotionally, and then be in control of it.” La Veau said this mastery can even be extended to daily life.
“It taxes your capacity for compassion and sympathy with your fellow man. It forces you to examine human conduct and the conflicts that arrive from that,” La Veau said.
Davis said he is confident that the youths will take up the mantle and produce good plays.
“We have a lot of young people who are doing serious work in the theatre industry. UWI is putting out a lot of students, Creative Arts Centre is doing good work, Lilliput Theatre is bringing out the best in young actors and Trinidad Theatre workshop has always been having workshops and training sessions in theatre education.”