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“Carnival Theatre”…?

Harewood House, the seat of the Earls of Harewood
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Most Trinis and West Indians probably don’t think of the thongs and feathers of West Indian Carnival as theatre beyond the idea of “playin’ deyself”. But for decades, particularly since the work of Errol Hill, the carnival and folk arts have been viewed as a pathway to finding and shaping both a form and an approach to theatre-making that is uniquely Trinidadian, and by extension, Caribbean.

Tony Hall has been among those who have been exploring the way that the carnival and folk arts can shape and inform theatrical practice in the Caribbean diaspora. His work has centred around what he has termed the Jouvay Popular Theatre Process (JPTP, now at version 2.0).

It is the process he introduced to an international assembly of artists in Leeds (U.K.) last week at a workshop co-ordinated by Kinetika Arts Links International and the Arts Council England. It was organised to explore the idea of Carnival Theatre, and to develop a new work grounded in JPTP: Din Shuru (story by Ali Pretty and Mary Anne Roberts, and music by Jit Samaroo).

2007-08 will be a big year for this slippery thing we default to calling Carnival Theatre. Din Shuru is planned to take the UK stage, and Geraldine Connor’s Carnival Messiah will play at Harewood House in Yorkshire to mark the bicentennial of the abolition of the slave trade. Carnival has always been about emancipation, so perhaps there is no more apt way the celebrate.


Caroline Taylor

Caroline is an editor and staff writer at MEP. She is also on MEP’s board of directors, and moonlights as an actor, singer, and director. She’s passionate about telling stories – on the page, on the stage, on screen – and in particular about documenting Caribbean lives and events. She’s currently trying to master unplugging from her iLife… For more: Author posts

1 thought on ““Carnival Theatre”…?”

  1. Carnival comes down essentially to how you see your Self. Through the MAS we have the opportunity to discover authenticity. Through the MADNESS we glimse our sanity. This person has had the honor of being part of this creative process called MAS from the Warrahoon's Jourvet to Santimanitay to The Man Who Lit Up The World to Carnival Messiah.

    Being authentic is absolute liberation. Being sane is true Mas. Watch out – 2007 – much will be revealed about the Masquerade.

    Cooperative + Community + Voluntary + Creative = MAS

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