‘3 JAMAICAN PLAYS’ – EXCELLENT
Book and theatre lovers should not miss the presentation of ‘Fallen Angel and the Devil Concubine’ at the excellent Bookophilia bookstore on Hope Road, Liguanea on Friday August 19. This unique opportunity to see one of the most interesting Jamaican plays of recent years, is a blessed result of Paul Issa’s publication of “Three Jamaican Plays – A Postcolinial Anthology (1977-1987)” that gathers under one cover three plays that Issa describes as “… a social and political history of that period in Jamaica’s history between the optimism of Independence and the cynicism, economic and social difficulties of the 1990s and beyond.
“‘Three Jamaican Plays’ is a jewel of Jamaican literature edited by Honor Ford-Smith, memoralizing three works that in their time shook the foundation of Jamaican thetre with their bold themes and dialogue that exposed a critical decade in which Jamaica struggled to extricate itself from the colonial experience and examine the development options possible. Stafford ‘Ashani’ Harrison’s ‘Masqueraders’ draws on the playwright’s Rastafari consciousness to critique Eurocentricism and white supremacy and establish an alliance with the ideological left that transcended race and class privelege. When first staged in 1977 with a cast of mainly dreadlocksed actors, it was shocking and controversial in its dramatization of the relationship between violence, social rupture and transformation.
Ginger Knight’s ‘Whiplash‘ (1983) would be easily understood in today’s Jamaica, with its tale of two brothers caught up on different sides of the inner-city political conflict. Honour Ford-Smith, in one of several excellent introductory comments, says the play ‘…dramatizes the violent crisis that interupted the project of decolonization in the late 1970s … and makes a bold comment on the misrule of ntional and economic political elites.” The play references the Green Bay Massacre and shows how the power of Rastafari ideology acted as a ‘force for peace that people deeply desired.” It is a play that would transfer easily to the cinema screen.
“Fallen Angel and the Devil Concubine” presents two ageing women — one black and a former servant, the other white woman rejected by her family for a brief mixed race liaison — and who spend what remains of their life arguing over who owns the decaying house in which they both live in permanent conflict. The play exposes the uneasy alliance between social classes, gender and race in Jamaica, as they use their former lives to justify their right to own and live in the house. First presented in 1987, the play was written by members of the Groundwork Theatre company that included Editor Ford-Smith herself, and at the time was considered a major exposition of the growing Jamaican feminist movement.
The plays are set in context by the editor’s introductions to each play that make the book a valuable thesis on Jamaican theatre and especially a vision of the most important years of Jamaica’s post-colonial development. Ford-Smith’s excellent commentary places each play in context, not only describing the era in which it was written, but reporting on the impact of its presentation. Indeed, her comments through the book frame each play contextually and provide an understanding of what made it exceptional as a vehicle for social transformation.
The collection of plays in one volume is a bold and positive step for which publisher Paul Issa is to be heartily commended, as the book becomes a valuable part of Jamaica’s theatrical history that provides schools, universities and lovers of good literature with an important addition to curriculua and libraries.
REGGAE FILMS FOR NATIONAL LIBRARY
The JAMAICA FILM ACADEMY has been petitioned by the NATIONAL LIBRARY OF JAMAICA to make a Legal Deposit of copies of all the films shown in the REGGAE FILM FESTIVAL since its inception in 2008 to help build an archive of films made in Jamaica and films featuring Jamaican topics for research, study and preservation.
The building of a comprehensive archive of Jamaican films has been one of the foremost objectives of the JAMAICA FILM ACADEMY. As such, the JFA Trustees BARBARA BLAKE HANNAH and PETER GITTINS are pleased to have been invited by the NLJ to assist this national endeavour, and will begin with a presentation of films shown at the first REGGAE FILM FESTIVAL in 2008 at a Seminar on Legal Deposit being presented by the NLJ on September 29. The Jamaica Film Academy Archive will continue to present the NLJ with copies of films from all future stagings of the REGGAE FILM FESTIVAL .
Esther Anderson, Jamaican actress and director of the documentary BOB MARLEY: MAKING OF A LEGEND, has been invited by the NLJ to be guest speaker at the Seminar. The JAMAICA FILM ACADEMY has invited all film makers whose works have been shown in the 4 years of the REGGAE FILM FESTIVAL and become part of the JFA Archive, to attend the NLJ Seminar and present their film copy in person, if desired.
SUGASHAK RECORDS ARTIST KEKE-I HITS THE SPOTLIGHT
This was a great week for Sugashak Records, Jamaica’s first solar recording studio and its star artist Keke-I with lots of activity that energised and occupied the team of off-the-grid music producers. First, Sugashak’s CEO Christopher Kaufman was happy to see how far construction has come towards completion of the three-story Sugashak Villa 800 ft above sea level at Mango Valley, St. Ann, that will provide luxury accommodation for music makers using Sugashak studios.
On Friday night Sugashak journeyed from Mango Valley to Wickie Wackie on the St. Thomas beach for the first of the Conscious Reggae Parties organized by Rasis International. A full moon illuminated the waves crashing on the black sand beach and a cool breeze fanned the night, as beautifully dressed Rasta and Afrocentric guests gathered on the lawns to listen to music, watch a Garvey film, browse the Ination bookshop and eat ital at the Veggie On Wheels food booth.
In a line-up that included I-Wayne, Joop Lion, Chakula and Roots Uprising Band, Keke-I gave an exciting performance of his hit song “Go Round Dem” and transfixed the appreciative audience.
Two days later, Keke-I again electrified the audience when he was among the stellar line-up of leading artists at the IRIE-FM tribute to Marcus Garvey on Sunday August 14 at Coconut Grove, Ocho Rios. Almost unknown among ‘name brand’ performers, Keke-I showed his star qualities, as he strolled the stage confidently and departed from his lyrics to bring messages of peace, unity and love of children. Pulling two children from the audience, he had the cameras flashing and the audience cheering as he knelt to embrace them and illustrate his comments. There is no doubt that this artist, who has been waiting in the wings for many years, has finally come to national recognition. His mentor, Sugar Minott, would be proud.
It was a long day, but one at which the singers and players on instruments poured forth their best to honour the great National Hero. Praises and blessings to the ladies of IRIE-FM – Andrea Williams, K’Shema Francis, Mama Elise Kelly. as well as to Ron Muschette and IRIE-FM’s boss Chad Young. ONE LOVE