Youth Theatre in the Spotlight with New Play

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Youth Study­ing Per­form­ing Arts & Cul­ture (Youth S.P.A.C.) has been work­ing with young peo­ple in theatre since 2007. Ten years later, the first gen­er­a­tion of par­tic­i­pants is on stage with Re­quiem for a Bad­john, an of­fi­cial se­lec­tion of the 2017 Na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val, writ­ten by lo­cal play­wright, Kather­ine Atkin­son.

Youth S.P.A.C. grew out of an ini­tia­tive by the late Mrs. Petron­illa Deter­ville at the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, and the Cul­tural Devel­op­ment Foun­da­tion to pro­vide youth theatre camps over the sum­mer months. Im­pressed by the show of tal­ent and driven by the con­vic­tion that theatre has trans­for­ma­tive pow­ers, then­camp di­rec­tor Ken­til­lia Louis de­ter­mined to run a year-round pro­gramme. She teamed up with Mrs. Deter­ville who had iden­ti­fied a sim­i­lar need in her com­mu­nity of Anse La Raye and had been work­ing with youth in mu­sic. The pro­gramme con­vened each sum­mer to pro­duce a large mu­si­cal theatre pro­duc­tion un­der the aus­pices of the Stu­dent Per­form­ing Arts Com­pany (S.P.A.C.) but in the in­ter­ven­ing months par­tic­i­pants met weekly for work­shops in act­ing and stage­craft, and dis­cus­sions about cul­ture.

Since its in­cep­tion, Youth S.P.A.C. has col­lab­o­rated with UN­ESCO and re­gional or­gan­i­sa­tions with sim­i­lar com­mit­ments to so­cial and be­havioural change through theatre, like Arts-in-Ac­tion in Trinidad and Tobago. In 2013 and 2014 the troupe was in­vited both to per­form and to con­duct work­shops at the Tobago Her­itage Fes­ti­val and the Tobago Bele Fes­ti­val. In 2015 the group was com­mis­sioned by the Mex­i­can Em­bassy to do a Saint Lu­cian adap­ta­tion of a pop­u­lar Mex­i­can play at the Re­gional Latin Fes­ti­val in Saint Kitts and Ne­vis.

The pro­duc­tion of Re­quiem for a Bad­john is par­tic­u­larly grat­i­fy­ing to Louis. She says, “These stu­dents were 12 and 13 when we started with them. It’s won­der­ful to see them on stage, their tal­ents at their heights, but also to ob­serve their con­fi­dence as young peo­ple, as in­di­vid­u­als.”

Some of the Youth S.P.A.C. alumni have gone on to be en­ter­tain­ers and lead­ers in their fields. Says Louis, “Look at St­effi Ann, who plays the Old Woman; she is a youth leader in her church. Kiedel Sonny who plays Bad­john is a cin­e­matog­ra­pher and ra­dio per­son­al­ity and has an enor­mous on­line fol­low­ing. An­thony Wilkie teaches Theatre Arts and di­rect his own plays. Shanne has been asked to sing for Jazz this year.”

Chriselda Cox, who plays the role of Lazarus in the cur­rent pro­duc­tion and now works in the tourism in­dus­try says, “Com­ing from Anse La Raye peo­ple told us, ‘You can’t do this; it’s okay,’ but Youth S.P.A.C. said, ‘Yes, you can. Ex­pect more.’”

It’s an in­ter­est­ing com­ing to­gether of what Youth S.P.A.C. is about and one of the main mes­sages the play con­veys: De­mand more of your­self. “I’ve al­ways seen theatre as a way to start a di­a­logue with the work, with the so­ci­ety and with each other,” says Louis. “This year we have this in­cred­i­ble group of young peo­ple on stage with vet­eran ac­tor David McLen­non. It’s won­der­ful to see the in­ter­ac­tion.”

This in­ter­gen­er­a­tional ap­proach cre­ates a strong le­gacy. “David is pre­pared; he thinks deeply about his choices on stage, and he’s gen­er­ous with the young actors. This is so im­por­tant for them.”

Re­quiem for a Bad­john plays at the Na­tional Cul­tural Cen­tre on April 29 and 30 at 8 p.m. Tick­ets are $25 and are avail­able at CDF, Flow and at the door. The play ex­plores adult themes and uses strong lan­guage.

The cast of the Re­quiem for a Bad­john play.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.