Busshead on ILTV’s The Stew

Bahamas Carnival just ended and Machel Montano and Bunji Garlin were there. It was the first time the pair performed their soca hit Busshead outside of Trinidad. The duo were interviewed about their collaboration, and careers, on ILTV’s chat show The Stew.

They’ve (the show’s producers) posted the entire episode online, so you can fast forward to the 19.28 mark for the Bunji and Machel interviews.

 

That said, I ended up watching the entire programme because they spoke about the epic failure that was Fyre Festival. In a nutshell Fyre Festival was supposed to be an ultra-exclusive music festival on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma. It failed miserably, with lawsuits being filed, but of particular concern for us here in the Caribbean is where it would affect the tourist interest in our music festival, like Tobago Jazz. I like this article in Billboard for exploring those concerns nicely.

I liked the conversation on The Stew, because it’s a Bahamian chat show, so it was nice to hear their perspective on the fiasco.

And I’ve just noticed something, last post I shared Dionne Jackson-Miller’s All Access, today I shared The Stew. I wish we had more local and regional content on our televisions in Trinidad. That’s something I want to discuss, and will  probably do so in another post soon.

I’d never heard of The Stew before, but I know Aneka Stewart from her Insta-account @caytostyle. She’s fab. And I may start watching the show on the regular.

We’ll see.

Favourite Books

Interviewing Debbie Jacob
The was at the Bocas Lit Fest’s Voices From Inside event at the Port-of-Spain Prison. Debbie Jacob is a writer, who has several literary courses within the local prison system.

The Voices From Inside event was one of those really nice and hopeful events that make you believe in the potential of us all to do good things. It was a showcase of the prisoners’ poetry, and a reading from Dr. Baz Dresinger’s new book Incarcerated Nations. She had travelled all over, looking at our prison systems. Too many of them are holding cells for people, and do very little to reform or treat their ills. Too many are soul-destroying cages.

It was nice listening to the prisoners’ poetry. It was really nice to see how their fellow inmates responded to the work. One guy was clearly the prison saga boy, with shades and ting. I wish I was able to take a picture, but we had to hand in our cell phones to security.

It was also nice that for Baz’s book, they drafted local celebrities Kees Dieffenthaller, Machel Montano and Anya Ayoung-Chee to read excepts. Kees also performed, and Mohammed Muwakil, singer and well-known spoken word artist, opened the proceedings. It was a great showcase for the prisoners.

As a journalist I knew that I was going to talk to as many people as I could. Since the event was a Bocas Lit Fest event, I decided, let’s ask people what their favourite books were. So that’s what I did, and here are their answers.

Here’s a list of the books mentioned:

  • Mohammed Muwakil: Seed to Harvest by Octavia Butler
  • Anya Ayoung-Chee, Kees Dieffenthaller & Machel Montano: The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
  • Kees Diefenthaller: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
  • Machel Montano: The Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
  • Dr. Baz Dresinger: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

If you were to ask me that very same question, my books are The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, and Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. And an honourable mention to Wine of Astonishment by Earl Lovelace, because I felt like I was buzzing while reading it. I was simply overcome with the sensation that it was meant to be read aloud.

Happy Reading!

Bocas Lit Fest 2017

In the 7 years it’s been around, Bocas has grown from strength to strength. The annual literary festival has hosted some of the most successful and interesting writers, publishers and poets of Caribbean, and World literature. And because it’s in Trinidad, there’s a non-pretentiousness to the proceedings that may make your faves seem significantly more approachable.

I’ve always been a fan of Bocas. Especially as a formally voracious reader, who has slowed down significantly. I use Bocas to get me excited about reading again. And it has, not to my old standards, but I’m on the path to being a real reader.

Untold Jamaica - Bocas Lit Fest 2017
Me in the audience for the Untold Jamaica panel featuring Kei Miller, author of Augustown, and Marcia Douglas, author of The Marvellous Equations of the Dread.

I also got to experience Bocas as a journalist. Just before the festival began, I spoke to Founding Director Marina Salandy Brown about the growing influence Caribbean writers is having worldwide. Perhaps, we should be looking towards developing Caribbean literary industry.

And as I mentioned in that piece, the Prime Minister was featured on special panel to discuss his autobiography From Mason Hall to Whitehall. A smart move from a festival that has just been recognised by Penguin Publishing as being one of the 20 best literary festivals in the world. It also allowed them to put the Prime Minister on the spot about his book tax.

It’s also a strategic move from the festival organisers. Because many good things are allowed to whither and die, because they can’t get the support they need. Bringing the Prime Minister, into the festival may help it win some support for it’s projects.

I’ll have more on Bocas, in another post. I may even share my book haul. See you soon.

Africa World Film Festival 2017

The Africa World Film Festival started today. Screenings will be held at UWI’s Film School in St. Augustine, and at the Caribbean Traveling Film School on Gordon Street in Port of Spain.

This is the 10 year anniversary of the film festival, so they’re doing a retrospective. Yesterday, I spoke to Festival Coordinator Wayne Cezair about the school and the film festival. The interview is below.

The full schedule is on their Facebook page.

New Play Festival

the-director-cast-crew-and-playwright-of-hell-discuss-the-playThree new, never-before-seen plays will premiere at the Trinidad Theatre Workshop (TTW) this weekend, as part of the New Play Festival 2016. The plays are Miracle, written by Ronald John and directed by Brendon O’Brien; Angels Live in Tunapuna, written by Sonja Dumas and directed by Johnathon Thatcher; and Hell, written by Safa Niamat-Ali and directed by Cydelle Crosby.

The directors, who are relatively new, were assisted by experienced dramaturges Wendell Manwarren, Mervyn de Goeas and Rawle Gibbons respectively, with the further assistance of Michael Cherrie and Raymond Choo Kong. The productions also feature an array of new and up-and coming actors. The Festival is being presented by Playwrights Workshop Trinbago and the TTW, with support from the National Drama Association of T&T (NDATT)

Renowned thespian Tony Hall said he originally came up with the idea when he decided to start working towards building theatre in T&T rather than complaining about what wasn’t there. To this end, he founded the Playwrights Workshop Trinbago in 2003, where playwrights can bring their plays to have them read and commented on by their peers and Hall himself. Hall said “the three plays being presented have gone through a process of re-writing, re-structuring and re-shaping at the Workshop. More than likely, they will be re-written, some in their entirety, after this New Play Festival. Such is the birthing process of play making, of play building, to which the young playwrights, directors and actors are introduced.”

One of the organizers of the Festival, Safa Niamat-Ali, said she’s driven by a passion to do everything she can to help theatre in T&T realize its potential. After attending a 2015 NDATT Stakeholder Consultation, she came to understand that despite having theatre practitioners and educational institutions providing theatre programs, there was no theatre industry in T&T, and the theatre fraternity is fragmented. After hearing Hall speak about the concept of the Festival, Niamat-Ali made the decision to assist in pulling the event together.

The Festival will begin on Friday night at 6 pm, and the plays Hell and Miracle will be performed. On Saturday, Angels Live in Tunapuna, Hell and Miracle will be performed beginning at 3pm, 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm respectively on Sunday, Miracle, Angels Live in Tunapuna and Hell will be performed at 3 pm, 4:45pm and 6 pm respectively. There will be panel discussions following each performance where the opinions of the audience will be solicited. On Monday, the plays Angels Live In Tunapuna and Miracle will be performed and the Festival will come to an end.

new-play-festival-schedule-2

For more information and tickets, email newplayfestivaltt@hotmail.com, call 351-6293 or 388-6238 and find them on Facebook at Trinidad & Tobago New Play Festival. Tickets cost $40 for one play, $60 for two shows and $100 for all three.

COCO Dance is Launched

The launch took place Thursday evening. Watching the performance live was interesting, because he walks through the audience and it had a very immersive feel to it. which is insufficiently captured on camera. It also helped having him explain it to you, but I’m reminded of my previous discussion with co-founder of COCO, Sonja Dumas who cautioned against needing to understand the performance. She suggests that audiences are better served just going with their feelings.

COCO Dance Festival starts this weekend, and continues next weekend, check it out.

Caribbean Fashion and Arts Feature Festival

Film is having a moment in Trinidad and Tobago. The CFAFF is another film festival on the local calendar.

This year’s theme is “Afro-diasporic Linkages and the Caribbean Voyage”.

“A movement, a discourse, a space, a channel for cultural transformation and expression; the African Diaspora is a collective consciousness.

As we continue our journey into self discovery as a people, the Caribbean Fashion & Arts Feature Festival is honored to celebrate the African diaspora, as well as our cultural expressions – film, art and fashion – of self awareness, resilience, tenacity and innovation as a Caribbean collective.

That Dragon Cancer: Animae Caribe

October is Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual global campaign to increase awareness of the disease. But that was not the reason behind featuring a special animated documentary on the subject at Animae Caribe Festival this year. It just worked out like that, with an amazing spate of coincidences and a twist of fate. ‘That Dragon Cancer’ is a computer game created by husband and wife team Ryan Green a programmer and game developer and Amy Green a writer, speaker and stand-up comedian from Colorado USA. An immersive narrative videogame that retells their son Joel Green’s 4-year fight against cancer through two hours of poetic, imaginative gameplay that explores faith, hope and love. Joel was diagnosed at age one and eventually succumbed to Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor (AT/RT) when he was four years old.

For 18 months, award-winning filmmaker Malika Zouhali-Worrall followed Ryan and his family as he created the game, documenting their daily life for this unusual work of art. Combining footage from both Ryan’s real and animated worlds, the documentary has turned out to be a thought-provoking portrait of one family’s determination to respond to an impending tragedy through artistic expression. The film challenges the stereotypical view of video games as superficial or violent, revealing a new movement within the gaming world to create projects that document profound human experiences. The film also tells a deeply moving love story of a husband and wife helping to keep each other afloat in the midst of a familial crisis. “We wanted to transcend the simple narrative of a family dealing with cancer, and instead examine the ways we handle grief, and the beauty and hope that can be found in art,” they say. “We saw how many people were profoundly moved by Ryan’s game, and how playing it often facilitated more, rather than less, social interaction. The fact that a video game was capable of awakening this sort of empathy astounded us, and we soon realized that Ryan isn’t only a developer, he’s also an artist — and programming is his paintbrush.” Filmmaker Magazine named Malika as one of 25 New Faces of Independent Film.

The Animae Caribe screening will be hosted by the imitable Keisha Butcher, a cancer survivor herself. For her this is a unique way for the issue to be addressed and made more accessible to the masses, especially here in Trinidad and the Caribbean as some consider this a taboo subject. “Cancer awareness’ means that we are being screened early, regularly and living healthy…until then we are not yet aware,” she says. Patrons can sample the game after the screening of the animated documentary which will be followed by Q&A with the director Malika Zouhali-Worrall at the UTT Academy for the Performing Arts on Wednesday 26th from 7pm.  For more information please check the website www.animaecaribe.com

COCO Dance Festival

The Contemporary Choreographers’ Collective or COCO is hosting their annual Dance Festival.

I’m really excited to see them add a video element. Founding member of COCO Sonia Dumas, has become quite the filmmaker of late. Fresh off her win at #TTFF16 for a film development prize, this addition of film to COCO Dance Fest is a lovely surprise. Dumas has already produced a film on local dances pioneers called Julia and Joyce.

coco-video-flyer

The COCO Video Festival will offer screenings and workshops at The Little Carib Theatre. See the flyer above for details.

coco-mainstage-flyer

First, that’s my friend Elisha Bartels in the above image. She’s a bess dancer, and frighteningly brilliant, so conversations with her are always edifying.

I’m most excited to see the dance productions at COCO fest. I have pleasant memories of Dave Williams, another founding member of COCO, and his inventive shows at the Carib.

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First Peoples Heritage Week

This year’s theme is “re-igniting the Ancestral Fires, Establishing Presence”

Monday 10th October – Amphitheate/ Arima Velodrome

Children Edu-Fund Tours (Craft, Song, Music, Dance and Language Workshops), Petting Zoo, Performance/ Descendence

Tuesday 11th October

First People’s Centre

9.00 A.M. – Reflection on First People’s Spirituality

2.00 P.M.  – Arima Town Hall: Leaders will meet to discuss the Implementation of the UN Declaration of the rights of Indigenous Peoples

Wednesday 12th October

10.00 A.M.  – Street Parade with School Children

Exhibition and sale of Craft items

Thursday 13th October

6.30 A.M. – Water Ritual at the Arima River

5:30 P.M –Lecture – Champions of the First Peoples at the Chaguanas Borough Corporation’s Auditorium

FRIDAY 14th October

6.30 A.M. Hyarima Ritual & Street Parade with School Children (Arima)

6.30 – 9.00 P.M. Day of Recognition – Hyarima Monument, Arima

First Peoples Community Awards