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A Hearty Platter of Bite-Sized Plays in Eight by Ten Festival
Though the promised platter of bite-sized plays was short by one, the Philip Sherlock Centre’s offering on the first night of its inaugural Eight By Ten Festival resulted in a hearty meal of diverse and engaging theatre. The night (September 27, 2013) exemplified one of the best traits of short-play festivals. First, it encourages experimentation, so you are likely to find pieces not usually available in commercial theatre and secondly, if the piece isn’t working, its short enough to not force you to violence to get it to end.
The night proffered a combination of established and emerging talent in acting, directing and writing. Highlights of night-one were easily ‘Bay Problem’, the excerpt of ‘Run For Your Wife’ and ‘Open, Closed Door’.
‘Bay Problem’ written and directed by Douglas Prout, was beautifully performed by Philip Clarke. The wittily written piece, resting happily at the intersection between a speech, a dramatic monologue and stand-up, speaks to the complicity of people in perpetrating the problems of the society.
‘Bay Problem’ benefited from a delightful accident, when the cast from the previous play ‘Across the Line’ made their curtain call, when Clarke was already on the stage. He played it off beautifully, not missing a beat.
‘Run For Your Wife’ written by Ray Cooney, adapted by Trevor Nairne and Lenford Salmon, was performed by Tableaux under Suzanne Beadle’s direction. The excerpt is a comedy of errors and the young thespians of Tableaux represented themselves well.
‘Open, Closed Door’ devised and directed by Rayon McClean and performed by QUILT secured McClean’s place as a rising director to watch. It was a textured and well-balanced piece that blended the use of music and drama and featured good performances by the all-female cast.
Friday night’s installment opened with the experimental piece, ‘Who Am I? Man? Let’s Talk’. written and performed by Webster McDonald and Alwyn Allen. It was earnest and well-intentioned and suffered and benefitted from all that implies.
Dahlia Harris’ ‘Across the Line’ offered up an interesting look at one of the often forgotten pieces of Caribbean Sports history. The excerpt, performed by the Waterford Drama Club, who delivered a fair performance, explores the controversial West Indian tour of South Africa during Apartheid. What is intriguing is that rather than looking at the cricketers who went on the tour, it shows the impact it had on those they left behind.
‘Don’t Go There’ an excerpt of a play by Barbara Gloudon was directed by Brian Heap and performed by Pauline Stone-Myrie, Lilieth Nelson and Jacqueline Higgins. It was hilarious, but as an excerpt it was a questionable choice as it was unable to stand alone. As a result, when it ended, despite having enjoyed it immensely, one wondered what it was about.
Friday night closed with another excerpt, as Michael Nicholson’s piece was cancelled due to his illness. ‘Boys on the Block’ from Earl Warner’s Man Talk, as an exploration of contemporary manhood was a good balance of drama and comedy. Performances were generally fair and Desmond Dennis oozed a dynamic presence, however the actors sometimes stumbled on the Barbadian cadence of the language. The fight sequences etc also need work.
Eight By Ten Theatre Festival closes on Sunday, September 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm. Saturday night’s performance takes place at 8:00 pm. The festival takes place at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, University of the West Indies, Mona.
Where the first night of the Eight by Ten festival was a smorgasbord of topics and themes, Saturday was a night of torn and tattered relationships: the romantic, the filial, the platonic and their various intersections.
The night opened with Amba Chevannes’ ‘The Naked Wall’ directed by Nadean Rawlins and performed by Shawna-Kae Burns and Melward Morris. ‘The Naked Wall’ was solid enough, yet it was one of the night’s weaker pieces. However this is less an indictment of the play, and more an acknowledgment that there were a few sterling productions.
Among these were Cathy Celesia’s fabulous short play ‘Anything for You’, which explores two long time friends whose relationship takes an unexpected turn. Directed by Jean Paul Menou and featuring Ruth Ho-Shing and Makeda Solomon the well-crafted play benefited from strong performances and great pacing that allowed its dramatic and comedic elements to come forward beautifully.
Alwyn Scott and Menou were brilliant in Sophie Arguille’s ‘It’s Raining’ directed by Pierre Lemaire. Lemaire is a master at physical action and the performance provided great insight into how much use of the body can conveys about characterization.
Fabian Thomas’ ‘Daddy’ featuring Maurice Bryan and Darien Reid was engaging. An excerpt of Tapestry, the piece, written and directed by Thomas deals with an estranged father and son.
Damion Radcliffe’s take on August Wilson’s Fences, was another of the worthwhile pieces for the night. The excerpt featured Sabrena McDonald and Tesfa Edwards who both delivered, though Williams’ performance was far stronger.
The witty monologue ‘Bay Problems’ written and directed by Douglas Prout and performed by Philip Clarke made an encore performance, filling in for the scheduled excerpt from ‘Death Comes to Us All, Mary Agnes’.
Of course, every theatre festival needs that one play where you have no idea what is going on, and more importantly, why it is going on. For Eight by Ten, this role was filled by ‘Wall No. 6’ written by Nelson Rodriques, directed by Trevor Nairne and featuring Chantalla Griffiths.
The night ended with a second play by Chevannes. ‘Trapped’ directed by Michael Daley wasn’t strong enough to end the night. The young performers, Jelissa Reddick and Carl Carram were unable to adequately pull off the required nuances to reflect the characters inner turmoil. ‘Trapped’ could also have benefitted from greater pacing.
The 2013 Eight By Ten Theatre Festival closed on Sunday, September 29, 2013. The three-night festival of short plays was held at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, University of the West Indies, Mona.
NB: The story was updated September 30, 2013