Gar­vey and his teach­ings come back to life

Jamaica Gleaner - - ARTS & EDUCATION - Paul H. Wil­liams Gleaner Writer

FROM OC­TO­BER 13 to17, Na­tional Hero Mar­cus Mosiah Gar­vey (An­dré Bernard) was res­ur­rected by four an­ces­tral spir­its, led by Olo (Shana-Kaye Burns) and cast on to the stage at the Philip Sher­lock Cen­tre for The Cre­ative Arts in Gar­vey The Mu­si­cal Roots Rock Reg­gae, pre­sented by The Univer­sity Play­ers (stu­dents and alumni).

Writ­ten, directed, and chore­ographed by Michael Hol­gate, it was a re­fresh­ing treat­ment of the Gar­vey story, which used po­etry, drama, com­edy, danc­ing, sing­ing, and ex­cel­lent drum­ming by Marogh­ini and Ke­moy Ou­tar to great en­ter­tain­ment value. Book, mu­sic, and lyrics are also the in­tel­lec­tual out­put of Hol­gate, who is the cre­ative di­rec­tor at the cen­tre.

“Gar­vey The Mu­si­cal has been a labour of love for me in nu­mer­ous ways, teach­ing me more about the way that I want to cre­ate and the kind of sto­ries I want to tell,” Hol­gate said in his di­rec­tor’s notes.

And to make the story of Gar­vey “more rel­e­vant”, he told Arts & Ed­u­ca­tion af­ter the show on Mon­day, Oc­to­ber 17, that he cre­ated the four an­ces­tral spir­its to trans­port Gar­vey from his long slum­ber to the present. In this myth­i­cal story, Gar­vey was brought back to teach trou­bled and non­cha­lant present-day young Ja­maicans and to share his story.

What Gar­vey found was heart­break­ing and dis­turb­ing, to say the least. An­grily, he at­tempted to in­ter­vene, to set them straight, but they could not hear or see him. So the spir­its cre­ated magic. And there he was, the ghost of Gar­vey, face to face with the Ja­maican black peo­ple of the new mil­len­nium, who were wal­low­ing in self-dep­re­ca­tion and self-ha­tred. Some did not even know about Gar­vey, it seemed. But he was not speak­ing their lan­guage, es­pe­cially that of Scrubs, the bleached-face thug nephew of Caro­line, an Afro­cen­tric-look­ing woman with her own is­sues of iden­tity. Thus, he had to ad­just. Scrubs al­most drove Gar­vey to his wits’ end, but Gar­vey was res­o­lute.

With be­liev­able act­ing, Scrubs faced off, pun in­tended, with his aunt, Gar­vey, the spir­its, and a diminu­tive Ras­ta­man named Ben­jamin (Der­rick Clarke), whose per­for­mance was punc­tu­ated with many mo­ments of comic re­lief, yet he did not smile. The au­di­ence loved him. He can also sing and dance.

It was Ben­jamin who threw away Scrubs’ bag of bleach­ing cream, but not be­fore call­ing down “fire” on to it. The re­formed Scrubs, who was re­garded a dunce, even­tu­ally went around, help­ing to tell Gar­vey’s story, af­ter he was told to go ed­u­cate him­self.


The pro­duc­tion it­self is all about ed­u­ca­tion. “The story is part civics les­son on the life of Na­tional Hero Mar­cus Gar­vey and part em­pow­er­ment ed­u­ca­tion for young peo­ple, as well as gen­eral au­di­ences. It is an edu­tain­ment pro­duc­tion, which high­lights the valu­able teach­ings in self-love and ac­cep­tance from a first-class Ja­maican philoso­pher,” Hol­gate said.

Go­ing back to the treat­ment of the pro­duc­tion, Hol­gate said, in ret­ro­spect, that he could have put Gar­vey’s wives on stage, not just men­tion­ing them, yet, he also said, “I be­lieve we have cap­tured the true in­ten­tion and essence of this pro­duc­tion, which is to re­claim Gar­vey’s con­scious­ness and philo­soph­i­cal ge­nius from the past and make it ac­ces­si­ble by show­ing the rel­e­vance in the world we live in to­day.”

In the end, af­ter he had made his points, the an­ces­tral spirit re­turned Gar­vey to the realms in which those af­flicted black peo­ple are not liv­ing, and who knows, he might be res­ur­rected again, soon. But for now, Hol­gate is pleased with his own ef­forts, and the au­di­ence turnout, which he said was “awe­some”.


From left: Scrubs (Akeem Mig­nott), the bleached­face thug, in a con­fronta­tion with Mar­cus Gar­vey (An­dré Bernard).

A res­o­lute Mar­cus Mosiah Gar­vey (An­dré Bernard).

Gar­vey’s fa­ther (Ru­dolph Tom­lin­son) sings to and about his baby son.

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