The 2019 Caribbean Secondary Schools’ Drama Festival ended last Saturday with showers of praise for nearly 90 of the region’s aspiring thespians. But not without sound advice to the participants to ensure that they continue developing their craft so that the art form remains sustainable.
The festival, which ran from November 3-9 in Saint Lucia, saw students from Guyana, Antigua & Barbuda, Trinidad & Tobago, and Saint Lucia participating in workshops, forums, cultural presentations and theatrical productions aimed at sharpening their skills and building character.
This year’s festival was held under the theme “L’ÈspwiTeyat” (“The Spirit of Theatre”) and aimed to prove that Caribbean students can use theatre to deal with issues that affect society both positively and negatively.
Four theatrical productions were staged nightly between Monday, November 4 and Thursday, November 7 – one by each delegation. These productions were “Culture Shock” (Saint Lucia), “The Voice Granny Heard” (Guyana), “The Long Walk” (Antigua & Barbuda), and “The Curious Cat” (Trinidad & Tobago).
While audience turnout was moderate on each night, those in attendance were undoubtedly appreciative of the high standards exhibited by the various casts. During questions and answer segments that followed each production, students and their teachers fielded questions from the audience, many of whom commended the students for their work.
Speaking at the closing ceremony held at the National Cultural Centre last saturday, where most of the week of activities were held, Minister in the Ministry of Tourism, Information, Broadcasting, Culture and Creative Industries with responsibility for Culture and Creative Industries, Fortuna Belrose, saidthe arts provide channels through which young people can find themselves.
“Throughout the Caribbean, most of the countries are now moving in that direction, to allow and provide more opportunities for youngsters through the arts to come through in the society,” she said.
Nevertheless, she implored the youngsters to work hard and smart if they want to reap the rewards of success: “Things just do not happen. Many young people just believe that things can just happen in a flash, but it takes effort and a lot of work. Through drama, we saw that during (the festival).”
The four theatrical productions staged by the students were adjudicated by Marvin George of the Edna Manley School for the Performing Arts in Jamaica, Professor Paloma Mohamed-Martin of the University of Guyana, and Saint Lucian playwright Katherine Atkinson.
The full list of awardees for this year’s festival reads as follows:
AWARDS OF MERIT
• Most Promising Actor — Daniel Kistow-Davis (Trinidad and Tobago)
• Most Promising Actress — Petal Brown (Saint Lucia)
• Best Actor — Odida Parkinson (Guyana)
• Best Actress –KhadeliaWilliams (Antigua and Barbuda)
• Best Original Script — Antigua and Barbuda
• Best Ensemble — Trinidad and Tobago
• Aston Cooke Award For Directing — Zahra I. Airall (Antigua and Barbuda)
• Best Production — Antigua and Barbuda
• Best Sound Effects — Antigua and Barbuda
• Best Music — Trinidad and Tobago
• Best Lighting Design — Antigua and Barbuda
• Best Costume Design — Guyana
• Best Stage Management — Guyana
• Most Innovative Set Design — Antigua and Barbuda
The Antigua and Barbuda delegation also received the Best Overall Contingent Award “for their cooperation, interaction, conduct, and willingness to participate in activities throughout the festival.”
The student delegations also exchanged gifts and contact numbers among each other, promising to keep in touch.
This November, UNICEF celebrates the 30th anniversary of the United Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The human rights treaty, which was signed on November 20, 1989 and became effective on September 2, 1990, sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children
The Rights of the Child was a sub-theme of this year’s drama festival: the focus of some of the various Articles were evident from the festival’s opening ceremony and the messages continued through the various theatrical performances.
A cultural presentation by Dennery Primary School students at the closing ceremony focused on ensuring that future generations of children understand their rights and experiences. The performance was written by June Frederick and directed by Valerie Regis.
President of the Caribbean Secondary Schools Drama Association, Anderson La Barrie, described the festival as fruitful and inspiring, and urged the students to impart the knowledge they gained in their personal lives.
The next Caribbean Secondary Schools’ Drama Festival will be hosted in 2022 in a soon-to-be-decided venue.
Sponsors of this year’s Caribbean Secondary Schools’ Drama Festivalinclude the Events Company of Saint Lucia, Cultural Development Foundation, Department of Culture and Creative Industries, UNICEF, Caribbean Secondary Schools’ Drama Association, Saint Lucia Theatre Arts Association, Bay Gardens Resorts, Computer World, Vybe Radio, Choice TV, FLOW and Digicel.