A stolen quote expressed that “Art should disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed”. On Sunday May 7th, 2023, in the early frenzy of the St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival, Art and The City had the audacity to present “A Little Folk Tale” at the National Cultural Center at 7:30 pm and another showing on May 8th, at 11:00 am for the school cohort. A super production in Musical Theatre at a measly EC $50.
I love Art no matter the genre, believe it or not, I guess you may say I’m just an eclectic human being of sorts. To be honest, Lucians are somewhat late comers to many events but for some reason when it comes to theatre, we tend to be on time and the show goes on promptly. So as my date would have it no other way, (my offspring who rules my life), we got there a few minutes before showtime. The mostly packed Cultural Center attendees all proudly belted the national anthem in unison before the lights were lowered and the business of the evening began.
The opening vignette was a powerful rendition by Master Rene, of whom it baffles me to believe that he still lives with us and not working full-time on Broadway. What a voice this young man possesses. You could hear a pin drop as spectators all listened intensely as if to suggest that we would be punished if we flinched. Our attention was demanded and there was no negotiating that.
The play is set to capture the story of the death of Uncle T-Bab who seemingly was a very interesting character. His dealings were further explained when a few curious relatives and kids sort to discover the contents of a personal box belonging to T-Bab. What they discovered was the obvious existence of all the St. Lucian Obeah participants. Exposing names is not kosher but here and in this article, let it rip and roll off my tongue. The players include, but are not limited to, the La-jab-less, Sue-Koo-Yan, Tee-Bolom, Mr. Margee-Noir, Cork-ma, and a few Ga-jays. I guess you can say the St. Lucian populous know quite a few Gar-Deers around the place and it is common knowledge that the man will stay if the macaroni pie has “come-to-me” as a main ingredient.
As the various scenarios unfolded, the production became more and more fascinating. The actors were all on point, there didn’t seem to be a weak link nowhere in sight, and the supporting choir sounded great yet enchanting and mysterious. We were all drawn in and I began to wonder if I would encounter a Ga-jay on my way home. I literally broke into a cold sweat and that was all attributed to the reality in the actors’ abilities to translate the stories from stage to audience. Lighting and fog also assisted in setting the cold and scary mood that gave credence to the production.
The quality in the performances was at an incredibly high standard and it brought home the fact that we, as St. Lucians, can do great things. We can execute tasks without mediocrity, and we can excel at the things we put our minds and talents to. This production showcased great leadership, under the directorship of Miss. Frederick, and great collaborations between all who were involved in bringing it to fruition. Whilst our clear deficiency for many years now, since when Lot decided to turn back and accept her fate of salt, is our struggling sound quality. I’m not sure exactly what it is; if it is that we don’t have qualified Sound Engineers, or that our sound people are not innovating their skills, or that we underestimate the public’s ability to recognize quality sound from sound scratches.
Whatever is hindering our productions, our singing shows, our pageants and awards presentations, our sound could use some major overhauling. If anyone is reading this and has some semblance of sound interest and know-how, please put in your bid to save us, and help us hear ourselves clearer and cleaner. This is the missing component that’s going to propel us to newer heights in our talent execution.
The production ended on a high note reiterating the fact that no matter what is going on in our lives, soliciting the devil is never sustainable. To perish is inevitable, even for the devil himself because ultimately, it was T-Bab, who had both hands dirty but found time to bite the dust and had no choice in being gone forever. To say that “A Little Folk Tale” was entertaining would be an understatement, it was nothing short of amazing. I would like to request that these musical theatre-type productions be put on display a little more often. These would help us scout for our talented kids who excel at singing, dancing, acting and the like.
Nevertheless, as of today, kudos to the organizers of this production, the directors, the choreographers, the dancers, the singers, the lighting crew, the stagehands, the writers and of course the badly infected sound helpers, no pun intended. It was really worth much more than EC$50 to be totally honest. I hope that it will not be shelved and that it can take on a new life of its own for future productions. A word to the wise is sufficient.
One of the areas of concern and absolute constraint is the disease of nepotism. This bug limits us greatly where obtaining some great talent on the island is concerned. By this I mean, when a production is proposed, we must ensure that there are legitimate auditions, where we can switch up old judges who have the same old draconian ideas and open the door for newness, growth, and flexibility. I don’t mean to open a few cans of worms, nevertheless one or two worms from one can does improve the discussion.
It cannot be that we just happen to be blessed with the very same performers being recycled time and time again and across various genres. That’s not to say that recurring decimals don’t have a recurring place at the table if they outshine the new auditions, but that’s not a scientific fact. We need to do some succession planning and investigate the wider community where new talent, new ideas and new energies exist.
I am happy to say that I feel encouraged as I exit the stage and make the way clear for the future generation. They’re already starting on a high technological note, notwithstanding that we may see robots on stage with the evolution of Artificial Intelligence. Until then, I am hopeful and prayerful and trying not to be doubtful. If the production of “A Little Folk Tale” was any indication of what’s to come out of St. Lucia, then I am saddened that I am already heading into senior citizenship and the knees may be buckling. I’m super excited and the future of Arts looks very bright for the economics of Helen.
Well done and bravo!!