The return of Summer Sparkle
Balancing a number of hats, Marcia Rowe is an educator, writer, author, playwright and publisher. She is also the mastermind behind the summer production storytelling series, Summer Sparkle – a theatre arts project which takes participants through castings, rehearsals and performances associated with an entire play production.
Dating as far back as 2008, Summer Sparkle has been in existence, using folklore such as Anansi stories, performed through puppetry. Afterwards, the production continued for the next five years, using full-length plays for its storytelling. Production was paused after 2012, due to its initial location – the school hall at St Andrew High School for Girls – which was being renovated, and would include the addition of stage lights.
Over the years, Summer Sparkle has performed for the public the full-length plays of Nut Ford High (2009-2010), Castle of Memories (2011) and Street Children: A Bio-Mythical Drama (2012). For this summer, the project will remount the Street Children play.
Street Children: A Bio-Mythical Drama is set in the city of Kingston. It is about a young girl who runs away from the country. Through use of the Jamaican dialect and standard English, the characters take on a gripping story of relevant themes of friendship, poverty and reality versus appearance.
Castle of Memories tells the story of a set of friends who takes an initiative to save their dorm rooms from closing. Even though this play is yet to be published, it was well received in 2011 and was noted as a humorous story fit for all age groups.
One of the earlier written plays, Nut Ford High, is set at a school. The play utilises conflict and friendship to build a fascinating storyline. It was published earlier this year.
Feedback from the shows, which are live performances, are usually good and commentary on the plays proves that the playwright’s inspiring stories are quite brilliant. The shows usually run for two to three days, ending the culmination of rehearsals. The human resource came from the teachers and students within the performing arts department at St Andrew High School for Girls, and stage props were oftentimes created, along with some costumes being provided by sponsors.
Another published work of Rowe is Dramscape, a textbook that is developed to assist specialist and non-specialist teachers of drama to conduct a more meaningful and structured drama class. The textbook offers several lessons, activities, games, technical terms, adaptations and excerpts of plays. Rowe adds that the textbook was indeed hard to compile and stemmed from her own need of having notes for her one-hour drama classes. Now, a growing number of schools in Jamaica are using the textbook in grades 10-11 for classes in theatre arts. Currently, Kingston Bookshop sells the majority of her published works.
According to Rowe, “Summer Sparkle connotes the light stage, something different and relaxing”. She also adds that the project “doesn’t come off as if they are attending a regular summer school”, which is a great way to foster creativity and student development.
Originally, the play being shown this year was conceptualised as an all-male cast, but is performed with an all-female cast.
Casting was done on July 1 at St Andrew High School for Girls for the project’s month-long term, and will conclude with shows from July 24 to 26.
This year, the show targets summer schools and summer camps. The show will ensure affordable ticket prices for children and adults, and a special package for sponsored groups.
As the show embarks on another year, it is set to be a stunning project for children ages 10 and older.