For the Reckord | Children are 'El Numero Uno' - Annual production uses Pam Mordecai script
For different reasons, over the past fortnight, two sets of producers felt it was important to focus on Jamaican theatre. Pierre Lemaire acted in the interests of Jamaica's children, while Dahlia Harris and Nicole Brown in the interests of our women.
Annually, the School of Drama at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA) produces a play for children as a project of the Children's Theatre Workshop course. Lemaire, the school's acting director, states: "It is important for our students, as young practitioners and teachers of theatre, to revisit the world of children. The productions for children allow them to interact with young audiences .... This year being EMCVPA's 40th anniversary, it was very important to produce a Jamaican play."
Most of the plays in the workshop course have been foreign, and Lemaire told me he was delighted to get a script for this year's production from Pam Mordecai, a well-known Jamaican educator, short-story writer, novelist and poet who also turned playwright with that script.
She has lived in Canada since 1994, and the play, El Numero Uno, had its world premiere in 2010 in Toronto at the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People. That production, according to Mordecai, was "lavishly staged" and "a very different kind of production" from the Drama School's one, which closed on Sunday after playing for two weekends.
Though simply staged, it was very enjoyable, having the elements children generally love in a production - including a tension-filled, magical story involving creatures under a spell, colourful costumes, talking animals, music, pretty lights and fine acting.
The animal characters (pigs, birds and rabbits, identified by their animal noses) a lively Jonkunnu band, the human character, Ras One Love (Horace Gordon) and some of the language suggest a Jamaican setting. However, the Spanish title and the play's many French terms give it an international dimension.
The central story surrounds the efforts of the title character, a teenage pig (played by Tiaunah Coore), to get a spell removed from larcenous beasts in the forest with her 'True Self Soup'. But Uno is abducted and almost becomes a meal herself before, with help from other animals, she succeeds and there is dancing in the streets.