Stories for Christmas and beyond
As the audience left the Dennis Scott Studio Theatre, School of Drama, Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, last Saturday night, I heard many persons complimenting the show and singing snatches of its five of six songs. Earlier, they laughed a lot and participated in the stage action.
A Carol for Moneybags, Barbara Gloudon's adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol, was a hit.
Dickens' story about the attitude of a miserly old man who hates Christmas being changed by the nighttime visits of duppies and spirits is innately intriguing. Second, Gloudon has Jamaicanised the tale - one of the songs is the popular folk song Christmas a Come, Mi Waan Mi Lama - and written lyrics given catchy music by Conroy Cooper.
The School of Drama's production added much to those basics. There's Pierre Lemaire's fast-paced direction of talented students, including Chevan Shirley, who plays the title role with energy and a sense of fun - his pre-bedtime exercise routine is hilarious. There's Peter Roper's imaginative lighting design and Stacy Ann Banton's colourful costume design, with the traditional red and white of Christmas predominating.
Musicians and singers from the School of Music join drama school students in the cast, while School of Dance lecturer Patrick Earle pitched in with choreography.
A project in the School of Drama's Children's Theatre Workshop course, the musical continues tonight, tomorrow and Sunday, then December 15-17.
Storytelling Festival 2017
"Storytelling provides us with many opportunities to broaden the discussion about the nature and function of authentic values-based traditional cultural forms and their potential for impacting sustainable development." So states Amina Blackwood Meeks in an invitation to story lovers to participate in this year's Ananse SoundSplash, Jamaica's annual storytelling festival, beginning on Sunday with a church service at the Temple of Light Centre for Spiritual Living, 4-6 Fairway Avenue, Kingston 10. On Monday, National Storytelling Day, storytelling will take place at parish libraries throughout the island.
Dr Blackwood Meeks' solemn tone echoes Governor General Sir Patrick Allen's. In officially proclaiming November 20 National Storytelling Day in 2014, he spoke of the importance of storytelling in "healing the fractured sense of self and contributing toward social recovery".
The festival is being produced by Ntukuma, the storytelling foundation, the Jamaica Library Service and the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica.
Blackwood Meeks said the theme, 'Of Gods and Greatness', indicates the stories' focus - the hopes, dreams and extraordinary accomplishments of ordinary people and Jamaica's legacy through training and building clubs in institutions.
On Wednesday, starting at 3 p.m., storytellers will meet with other stakeholders and potential funders of the festival at the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Library to discuss the festival's future. On Thursday, there will be storytelling at several colleges.
Blackwood Meeks also announced that Ntukuma will donate $70,000 worth of books and school supplies to a school in Haiti. Also, RJR will shortly begin a 10-minute Saturday morning storytelling feature titled 'Storycation', combining 'storytelling' and 'education'.