Hello Ladies, Gentlemen and Gender Non-conforming, yes, Emily Aboud, assistant director, is back with Blog #2 for our upcoming production of Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place.
We have been continuing our research of the Caribbean region and of the life of Jamaica Kincaid, who I must admit is an utter legend. Jamaica left Antigua at the age of 17 to work in New York City as an au pair but soon became an artist and a writer out of her own intuition. If you read this essay you can really get a sense of what a hard-working, intersectional feminist icon looks like, especially as she was a young black woman living in America 40 years ago. Top Halloween Tip: read the essay all the way to the end for a most excellent costume idea, invented by Jamaica herself, female sexual empowerment for the win.
This is our favourite photo of her.
We’ve been speaking a lot about the Caribbean mind-set, of which, as a Trinidadian, I am incredibly familiar. Caribbean people have a tendency to turn tragedy into joy, often trivialising some pretty serious issues. We concluded that it must be a coping mechanism of colonialism (and slavery, rape, torture, racism, corruption, indentureship, exploitation and not even a mention of “whoops sorry about that” from the European oppressors who are still benefiting from this stolen wealth, omg sorry blogs are supposed to be light and fun, I’ll tone it down).
Example 1: Trinidadian musicians wrote a Soca song called “No Ebola” in 2014, written as a response to a very valid statement from the government that Carnival could be cancelled due to the spread of the Ebola epidemic. Do have a listen here, I am still unsure whether to be amused or disgusted at this trivialisation of horror, 4 years later.
Example 2: The Caribbean is very prone to natural disasters, depending on the island. Many Caribbean islands follow an arc that mirrors the Caribbean tectonic plate. It is a convergent plate boundary, which means we’ve got volcanoes (Monserrat is yet to recover from an eruption in 1995) and earthquakes (Antigua was flattened by a terrible earthquake in 1974, come see the show to find out more). And, ah yes, and let’s not forget the frequent hurricanes (gosh aren’t we lucky to be safe in blustery England, with no unpredictable natural threats to life and infrastructure, must do wonders for your GDP). Indeed, it is a dangerous place to live in but luckily, Cherrelle discovered this helpful disaster-preparedness song, which has now become a staple inside joke of the week. Try not to sing along to winning lyrics such as “Let meh see yuh shake like earthquake”.
Rehearsals-wise, I’m sitting here writing this and I’m not actually sure of how much of the piece I can talk about without ruining some surprise or another. This piece is a “ghost story” of sorts and I’d feel quite terrible if I gave away any secrets (ironically, I’ve begged both Cherrelle and Nicola to spill the beans on all the stage secrets of The Cursed Child, of which, they both played Grangers but I’ve gotten nowhere). Anyhow, we now have some very exciting props in our rehearsal room and every day, we figure out new ways to tell our story. Everyone in the room is still brilliant and the show will be brilliant because of this.
Get ready for Blog #3 next week, I can already tell this week of rehearsals is going to be immense.