Did you get out to the Antigua and Barbuda Secondary Schools Drama Festival last week? No? From all accounts it’s your loss – and mine. Yep, I was a deadbeat as well though I did have the opportunity to preview the winning play during a dress rehearsal. I knew then that on originality alone it had snagged the prize because the play, written and directed by Zahra Airall, was every bit of that. Drawing on African-Caribbean folk characters like Mami Wata, Mama Glo, Djablesse, Douen, Soucouyant, and others and locating them all right here in a hidden dimension in the forests of Antigua, she sets up an interesting premise that becomes even more so when that bubble of reality is penetrated by a human woman and her baby. What happens to the baby when the woman gives birth in the forest? What becomes of the woman? What will these supernatural creatures with desires and distractions of their own decide about the fate of this child?
The characters as drawn have both the indifference of gods to human foibles and at the same time very human concerns – loneliness, jealousy – of their own. The performances in rehearsal were effective and sometimes even more than that. And the judges agreed giving the lion’s share of prizes after a week of performances by various secondary schools to Zahra Airall and the girls of the Antigua Girls High School.
Here’s the prize breakdown (credit: Z Airall on facebook):
2015 Drama Awards
Best Sound Effects – Antigua Girls High School
Best Lighting – AGHS
Best Set Design – CHSS
Best Make-up – AGHS
Best Costume – AGHS
Best Upcoming Actor – Sadiki Harris (Barbuda)
Best Upcoming Actress – Macnelia Gomes (Pares Secondary School)
Most Original Play – AGHS
Best Stage Management – PSS
Best Director – Zahra Airall (AGHS)
Most Disciplined School – Clare Hall Secondary School
Most Promising Actor – Shemar Weber ( Barbuda)
Most Promising Actress – Sherissa Prince (Jennings Secondary School)
Best Ensemble Performance – CHSS
Best supporting actor – Stephan Jones (PSS)
Best supporting actress – Erica Williams (JSS)
Best Actor – Junior Webber (CHSS)
Best Actress – Shaveesa Gasper (AGHS)
Outstanding Production – AGHS
Congratulations to the winners, to AGHS especially for two-peating (you’ll remember that they wow’d in Antigua last year and impressed in regional competition in Trinidad as well), and to the organizers; with efforts like this, we’d be purging our conscience to say theatre in Antigua and Barbuda doesn’t have a pulse. So, I urge only that they keep it going; but of course that requires the support of, to quote Short Shirt “we, the people, ourselves”. As usual, we need to do better and show up in our numbers to support. We can’t let the interest in a positive arts programme falter because of lack of interest on our part. Yes, that goes for me, too.
Read Zahra Airall’s exclusive to Wadadli Pen guest blog on last year’s experience; think we can get her to do it again?
As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, Fish Outta Water, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.