For more on the A & B theatre tradition, go here.
I missed Dorbrene O’Marde’s Harambee days. Oh I was in the world but far yet from being of the world…so that while coming up I always had an awareness of Antigua’s theatrical heyday, it was always just a little bit in my rear view, not something I had had any practical engagement with (or memory of if I did). When those old enough to know talk about it though, you get a sense that you missed something. Last night, at the staging of Dorbrene O’Marde’s This World Spin One Way, I got a glimpse of that missing something.
This World Spin One Way, to be clear, is not one of the pieces from Haramabee and Antiguan theatre’s late 1970s prime time; no this was a 1990s production. I was working by then, and though I remember it as Dorbrene’s return to the theatre…I somehow missed it…and don’t remember why. I remember it got positive reviews though.
And having seen it for myself last night at the Cathedral Cultural Centre, I can say they were well deserved. Sure, the rhythm could be smoother, and likely would be if they had the luxury of a real theatrical run, nights on end of repetition until everything became second hand. But the bumps can be overlooked, I think, because there was hardly enough to make the ride bumpy…at least not beyond that dictated by a script and production delving on one level into the messiness of man and woman business and at a deeper level a philosophical questioning vis-à-vis the nature of being.
Basic plot – man and woman shack up, woman cheats on man, they break up; years later, they meet up, and meet up again, and again, and again, such dalliances leading to internal questioning and external gossip.
Beyond the plot, we’re looking at the dimensions of love, whether jealousy is a product of love or possession, do we always want what we don’t have, trust, desire, faithlessness, forgiveness, impotence (emotional and physical), forgetting, letting go, moving on.
For me, it provided a uniquely unblurred view into the baffling (at least to my Venus-mind) nature of male logic – the way loyalty and infidelity can exist within that logic without irony or contradiction. The twist, of course, is that we are reminded that women are just as f*cked up as men when it comes to being satisfied with who they have, or perhaps it is, that as humans we are never satisfied – we always want the thing we don’t have.
Then again, maybe it’s not that, because one doesn’t get the sense that the high profile accountant and ambassador’s wife would have orbited any-man trying to figure out if she wanted a taste, it was this man, and the history they had, and the way he stimulated her mind, and challenged her, and her bafflement at how cynical he had become, her guilt maybe that she had been at least in part the cause of it, her… so many maybes.
As for him, a swirl of defeat, bitterness, self-pity, and self-deception, a mix up mix up of feelings tamped down, because maybe it hurt too much to feel, to care.
If the actors could benefit from a series of performances to get the rhythm down, I could certainly benefit from a series of viewings, multiple readings if you will, to pin down the true meaning.
The main sense I had coming away, re the dynamics of being men, women, human in this world together is, it’s complicated. And come to think of it, This World Spin One Way is similar to that Meryl Streep-Alec Baldwin film with its swing shift of humor and pathos and old fire stick plotline – albeit that O’Marde’s play with its deft word play (in place of slapsticky shenanigans) made for a more sophisticated experience, never mind all the f*cks (tame in any case by Hollywood’s and possibly Broadway’s standards).
This World Spin One Way did make me nostalgic for something I’d never had, though as I was reminded it did exist, yes, exist here, once upon a time; theatre that trusted its material enough to pull back on the theatrics, to play the quiet beats, to set the tone for the kind of laughter it wanted to invoke, to set the context, to allow for genuine and nuanced human interaction, to …be as real as life.
Good play, well written play, well directed play, well-staged play (for the most part), good performances all around but especially so that of Dr. Alvin Edwards, not because his character was likeable, he often wasn’t, but because he so successfully made him human.
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ONE NIGHT ONLY
DEAN LAKE CULTURAL CENTRE Thursday November 13th 2014
Time: 8.00pm Admission EC$50 – Adults (17+) only
The play is about very intimate human relations, disappointments – finding oneself. It is about the choices people make in life. I am interested in the discussions after people see the play. It will make everyone reflect on their life.
Jean Small—UWI School of Drama/Director
UPDATED TO ADD:
TIM HECTOR called ‘THIS WORLD SPIN ONE WAY’ Dorbrene O’Marde’s best written play, and probably the best play written by an Antiguan….
The Daily News in St. Thomas claimed that the play was really good. Everyone should go. It was a combination of funny and sad. A must see!
Jean Small of the University of the West Indies School of Drama who directed the St. Thomas version, described the play as being ‘about very intimate human relations, disappointments – finding oneself…..it is about the choices people make in life. I am interested in the discussions after people see the play. It will make everyone reflect on their life.’
The Dominica Online Review says that ‘while there was considerable sexual overtone in the play, i found it subtle and well-suited to the universal themes of the ups and downs of love affairs, as well as betrayal, misunderstandings and nostalgia about past relationships. The two main characters created plentiful tension that kept the audience hanging on to their every word, wondering how it would all turn out. They made sparks fly’
Drama critic Barbara Twine Thomas wrote that ‘THIS WORLD SPIN ONE WAY’ is ‘a wonderful source of entertainment that laudably raises important issues from the Caribbean perspective’. She suggests that ‘O’Marde writes to validate the unique aspects of social behaviour in the Caribbean including not only intimate relationships but also the exercise of authority.’
David Edgecombe – who produced the first version of this play and directed the second – describes the play as exploring ‘complex relationships between men and women that permeate life in our islands. It is thought provoking….you’ll find yourself flashing-back to O’Marde’s drama in days to come’.
Dorrett Phipps/Night Crawler…’There were some very powerful scenes in this play….the audience ate them up. The artists’ creative juices blend in a most delightful, funny and provocative play. It will surely prompt discussions among those who were fortunate enough to see it during its short run here’.
ONE NIGHT ONLY – DEAN WILLIAM LAKE CULTURAL CENTRE – THURSDAY NOVEMBER 13TH 8.00PM (Tickets 464-6377 / 774-8682 / 464-5623 / 779-6301 /721–1903 / 786-2500)
Per my interview with Kanika Simpson-Davis and subsequent Daily Observer (Antigua) article… they’ll next hit the stage for Black History Month with a revival of How the Anancy Stories Got Their Name.
The group is feeling bolstered by the acclaim following (its) staging of Snow White at the House of Culture. ‘They’ve had so much positive feedback from performing that they’re much more confident and I really want to build on that strength,’ Simpson-Davis told the Daily Observer. ‘I want to keep the young people involved in both the acting and in appreciation of the themes.’
Snow White and the Eleven Dwarfs (came) roughly three years after STAGE ONE’S last production, a pantomime based on the Cinderella story.
This is the first outing for her new group, the original players having mostly grown up by now; this new cast is made up primarily of students from Island Academy where she teaches. But she’s hoping to expand it, if she can work out the logistics of working with students from different schools. Interested parties can email her at email@example.com“