Saint Lucia Night at Shake­speare’s Globe

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Joshua Devine

It was a night to re­mem­ber, the open­ing per­for­mance of Derek Wal­cott’s epic dra­ma­tized poem Omeros—a strong twohan­der cast of Joseph Mar­cell and Joan Iyi­ola di­rected by Bill Buck­hurst. The tal­ented trio pro­vided the on­stage magic.

JD Dou­glas had been asked by the Globe to stage a Saint Lucia night. Well, more a Saint Lucia pres­ence, for all the right rea­sons. As JD re­flected: “We need to have a Saint Lu­cian pres­ence in as many Bri­tish in­sti­tu­tions and de­ci­sion­mak­ing fora as pos­si­ble, lest we be­come mere pas­sive con­sumers. It’s no good say­ing how proud we are of our liv­ing No­bel lau­re­ate if as fel­low Saint Lu­cians we do not know his work.”

Saint Lu­cians and friends of Saint Lu­cians were able to pur­chase their tick­ets at an ear­lier agreed dis­count rate bro­kered by Dou­glas and were al­lowed to sit in a pre­des­ig­nated ringed area of the Sam Wana­maker Play­house..

The play, al­though in­spired by Homer’s gi­gan­tic saga, is not a trans­la­tion or a mod­ern version; more a re­cast in a tem­po­rary West In­dian set­ting. The char­ac­ters of Achille, Hec­tor and He­len are the em­bod­i­ment of the Saint Lucia psy­che and tem­per­a­ment: Philo­cette, with his fes­ter­ing wound, is a metaphor of so much that is wrong with is­land home. He­len is the maid of re­tired Bri­tish Army Of­fice Ma­jor De­nis Plun­kett and his wife Maud. Set in Gros Islet, his­tor­i­cal facts and events are blended into a stud­ied po­etic land­scape.

The var­i­ous story lines are nar­rated and drama­tised by the two ac­tors Mar­cell and Iyi­ola with pas­sion and dex­ter­ity. Their char­ac­ters have dreams, de­sires—soul. There is a re­al­ity and a vul­ner­a­bil­ity. They are you, they are me, they are the sum ex­pe­ri­ence of many things. As one Saint Lu­cian cur­rently serv­ing in her Majesty’s Armed Forces was over­heard to say: “When an an­gry Mar­cell cut the roots with his cut­lass and spoke the words, ‘Now you know what it’s like to be with­out roots,’ that really res­onated with me. I felt that sen­ti­ment over and over.” Yes, in­deed, pure the­atre to move the in­di­vid­ual, as it should to be.

Saint Lu­cians in the au­di­ence were on top of the play in more ways than one. They were proud to be as­so­ci­ated with some­thing as Saint Lu­cian as the work of Derek Wal­cott and would go on to demon­strate their ap­proval. For many this was the first time they had seen the in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized Joseph Mar­cell on stage. He is uni­ver­sally known the world over as Ge­of­frey, the but­ler in TV’s The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

Th­es­pis is cred­ited with be­ing the first to in­tro­duce di­a­logue to the stage in 6th cen­tury BC. He was also an ac­tor of note. His many dis­ci­ples, in­clud­ing the Stanislavsky school of act­ing, pro­claim that a play is not ac­tors; a play is not a script; it is not a di­rec­tor mov­ing ac­tors on stage—but the syn­ergy of what is hap­pen­ing on stage and the re­ver­ber­a­tion and re­ac­tions of the au­di­ence. Well, by this to­ken this cer­tainly was a mag­i­cal event and gi­gan­tic play.

Some of the di­a­logue in­cor­po­rates Cre­ole; as soon as the ac­tors de­liv­ered their words the Saint Lu­cians in the au­di­ence re­sponded with laugh­ter and guf­faws. What was ob­vi­ous was that some things sim­ply don’t trans­late. English trans­la­tions of what was said in Cre­ole failed to hit the spot. For ex­am­ple, when Mar­cell spat out the ex­ple­tive “salop” at his co-ac­tor the know­ing sec­tion of the au­di­ence went hys­ter­i­cal! Only Saint Lu­cians know the many shades of “salop!”

Also for­given was Joan Iyi­ola’s less than con­vinc­ing Cre­ole. Many Saint Lu­cians noted the mis­pro­nun­ci­a­tions: “What did she say?” Nev­er­the­less it needs be noted that Iyi­ola is noth­ing short of a won­der­ful ac­tor. But I’m a nit­picker; my crit­i­cisms are ad­mit­tedly mi­nor.

Ac­cord­ing to Dou­glas: “Part of the idea of the Saint Lucia night is to open the work of writ­ers in­clud­ing the Ken­dal Hip­poly­tes, the Robert Lees, the Gan­dolphs St. Clairs and our mu­si­cal icons Boo Hink­son and Luther Fran­cois to the Globe au­di­ences. Yes, the Globe does stage mu­si­cal events as well. This is a win­dow and and op­por­tu­nity not to be missed. The idea of the pro­duc­tion ac­tu­ally started in a Saint Lu­cian bar in Den­nery, not in some­one’s of­fice in Lon­don. Then the Globe rep­re­sen­ta­tive took out his bat­tered copy of Omeros, pushed it to­ward me over his first glass of Spiced rum. That was back in Au­gust 2013 when the Globe toured Saint Lucia with King Lear.”

Noted in the au­di­ence on the night was the cel­e­brated writer Ben Okri. Af­ter the play he was more than will­ing to speak of the im­pact of the per­for­mance. To his tag of be­ing the work of “the finest writer in the English lan­guage” Omeros pro­vides the ev­i­dence of the finest word smith on the planet. Wal­cott’s clever in­ter­play of words and phrases had many a clever Dick scratch­ing his head. A per­fect ex­am­ple: the in­ter­play of the words ca­noe and can­not (kanot) while many Looshans nod­ded in the writer’s clev­er­ness, at the end oth­ers were ask­ing the Saint Lu­cians to ex­plain their laugh­ter. Yes, it was truly a Saint Lu­cian night, for all the right rea­sons.

Saint Lu­cians such as the Tate fam­ily came from Cam­bridgeshire; Hilary Modeste, for­mer di­rec­tor of Tourism trav­elled from Es­sex; the Go­bats, so­cialite Penny Barnard, the Saint Lu­cian Women’s As­so­ci­a­tion, all showed up on the oc­ca­sion. In­deed, Saint Lu­cians from all walks of life were on hand to be counted.

Fi­nally words from JD Dou­glas, who or­gan­ised the evening: “The drama­ti­za­tion in many ways is a mir­ror for all Saint Lu­cians. Wal­cott’s pro­nounce­ment on the tourist prod­uct as an ex­am­ple, and his warn­ings seem to have gone un­heeded when you think of the Black Bay fi­asco. The big­gest sat­is­fac­tion, for me, was see­ing that what unites us as a peo­ple is much stronger and greater than what sets us apart. In this case the work of Derek Wal­cott is cer­tainly one of the strong­est uni­fiers—if not the great­est—for all Saint Lu­cians.”

Af­ter its sell-out run in 2014, Wal­cott’s Omeros, fea­tur­ing Joseph Mar­cell, re­turned to the can­dlelit Sam Wana­maker Play­house at the Lon­don Globe.

JD Dou­glas (R) with Di­rec­tor Bill Buck­hurst.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.