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Disabled community highlighted in theatre concert

Published:Saturday | July 5, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer

No one chooses to have a disability. Some are born with it, while others experience mishaps along the way. Nevertheless, it has been a great challenge for persons living with disabilities as they are usually marginalised.

These and other issues were addressed in the informative but entertaining two-part Genesis Academy Celebrity Concert dubbed, 'I Can See Clearly Now'.

The show, best described as an experimental theatre concert, saw part one being presented as a one-act play, while part two took the form of a concert.

Issues and challenges faced by the disabled community were highlighted in part one through a recording session of the talk show, 'Clearly Speaking'.

Clearly Speaking is hosted by Elaine Wint. Her panel included Education Minister Ronald Thwaites, Senator Floyd Morris, Gloria Goffe of the Combined Disabilities Foundation, Christine Hendricks of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, and Donna Lowe, principal of Genesis Academy.

They were all clear in voicing their thoughts as Morris, Goffe, and Hendricks are from the disabled community, while both Thwaites and Lowe have close relatives who are disabled.

Except for the opening remarks, the discourse between Wint and her panel, in the non-realistic, mosaic-structured 'play', was fueled by four skits or scenes presented alternatively. The scenes, are based on real-life situations, according to the director, Kenny Salmon.

While the responses from the guests were insightful, the scenes evoked a more memorable emotion. The first scene was heart-wrenching. Titled 'Hope Children's Home', it illustrated the rejection and alienation faced by children who are visually challenged.

The subsequent scenes - 'Society Group of Companies', 'Brown Sugar's Bar', and 'Change the Law' - also had profound messages.

Best player

In 'Brown Sugar's Bar', for example, a hearing impaired person, who, despite always paying his bills, and who is also the best domino player, is still treated unfairly by persons who are barely literate.

The cast for the dramatisation were teachers of Genesis Academy.

Part two of the production, which took the form of a concert, was presented by Genesis Academy's Parents and Collaborative Partners (PCP).

The concert began with the song I Can See Clearly Now, performed by Maurice Henry, with Fab Five as the backing band.

Roy Rayon provided an energetic ending to a programme that saw great entertainment from Amina Blackwood-Meeks, Michael Abrahams, Everton Pessoa, Tinga Stewart, Rasibuna, along with students of the Lister Mair Gilby School for the Deaf, the Randolph Lopez School of Hope, Genesis Academy, and others. The MC for the evening was Dahlia Harris.

According to Sheryl Haye, the event's production coordinator, the show was originally organised to raise funds for the institutions but has instead become a vehicle of awareness.