Davies duo does book double
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
On Thursday evening, there were smiles in the nearly-full hall at St Andrew High School for Girls as Philippa Davies read about harrowing, yet humorous, experiences in Travel Light, subtitled Memories of a Covenant Journey. And there was outright laughter from members of the audience, most well past the age - even if they were the admissible gender - to have anything but the dimmest memories of happy-go-lucky days at Cecelio Avenue for the second book being launched: Anancy Stories Colouring and Activity Book
The second book was illustrated by Andrew Davies, but it was the animated Anancy and Common Sense from the accompanying DVD, with stories narrated by Joan Andrea Hutchinson, which sparked the laughter. It was quite appropriate, as the activity book is recommended for ages six years-old and up, while the DVD is for "any age!"
Philippa was first up of the siblings and the harrowing and humour came from the title chapter, the second in the 70-page book. The first chapter, 'You left that for this?', opens with the shock and jaw-dropping which is "the usual reaction to my explanation of what I did before joining the Covenant Players, an international itinerant repertory theatre company. I gave up being a lawyer and diplomat in order to travel around Europe in an old van, live in other people's homes and perform plays".
Her selection from Travel Light related the minimalist lifestyle which became mandatory ("I sensed a certain mental freedom in knowing that all I needed fitted into a single, manageable-sized bag"), as well as how a particular biblical lesson was made real. "The Bible advises not to store up treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. And our things did get stolen. Twice - during my tour with the unit covering southern France and on one of my tours to Sweden".
The van was broken into while the unit was performing at a church in the French city, "ironically named Toulouse (pronounced 'to lose')", Davies said, and there were chuckles all around.
There was another kind of loss, as a nun at a retreat centre, also in France, offered to do the team's laundry. Philippa repeatedly asked that her pants be washed in cold water, to which the eager nun replied "Of course, of course, cold water." But the pants were duly washed in hot water and came back shrunken, leaving Philippa with one pair of pants "for the rest of the tour, which, thankfully ended three weeks later".
However, she ended, "Whether we had a private need, or suffered collective loss as with the van break-ins, by faith we believed that the Lord would provide. As you'll read next, provide indeed He did."
Lilieth Nelson's introduction of Andrew Davies, playing extensively on his job title as lead creative juicer was a riot in itself, even as she pointed out the various skill sets and knowledge areas the activities in the book develop. Among them are mathematics, language arts, focus, multiple discrimination and "a little biology".
Hutchinson's message, which ended "so Mr Andrew, big up with the Anancy story them", was delivered by video, as she was unable to attend the launch, and there was a merry time all around when 'Anancy and Common Sense' from the DVD was shown.
However, Andrew confessed that while some may believe that his motivation for doing the project was strictly to preserve Jamaican culture, "I was just trying to get my mother off my back". She went as far as to send him a CD with Anancy stories and some time after, every phone call included the query "you reach anywhere with the Anancy project yet?".
Then, after making some progress, Andrew was encouraged by Joan Andrea Hutchinson and at that point, he thought "OK, this can reach somewhere". The project was included in the third Travelling Caribbean Film Festival and Andrew concluded that the colouring book was included to get the children to interact with the material. And that is where the preservation of culture comes in, Andrew said, "when they begin to embrace the story as their own and interact with it".