Of all the locations to experience authentic theater on the international day named for it, Brooklyn scored cool points by inviting Derek Walcott, the first Caribbean writer to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature to witness his own “Pantomime” acted by one American and one Caribbean.
While the borough takes the nod for hosting the World Theater Day presentation, kudos must also go to the Caribbean Cultural Theatre for seizing the opportunity to deliver a winning celebration on many fronts.
“It is a tremendously humbling experience,” Ewayne McDonald, the artistic director said of the presence of the region’s most reputed poet.
“It’s a joy.”
The founder of the group whose Brooklyn base consistently lauds the Caribbean and its literary achievers in films, publishing, theater etc invited the 84-year-old, St. Lucian to sit front and center to watch two actors interpret his 1978 presentation focusing on ”one Island…two men…three hundred years of history” and the myriad differences of interpersonal relations between them.
McDonald culled a diverse audience to fill the space at Actors Fund Actors Center in order to share the double experience of also seeing Antigua-native Iyaba Ibo Mandingo and Michigan-born Nathan Oesterle reprise the enlightening Caribbean production.
On that same March 27 date, the group also managed to expand the already celebrated day by recognizing three media personalities they consider “friends’ of their effort and ambitions.
“Through our humble journey we have made a few friends and tonight we want to recognize some of them,” McDonald said.
With that statement flowered by glowing accolades he presented an artistic creation by Jamaican artist Everard Powell of Just Art in Kingston.
This reporter accepted an aqua blue, boxed-frame design with images of two faces which epitomizes the creativity of Caribbean nationals residing at home. The gracious and generous design was triply appreciated by colleagues Kenton Kirby, editor-in-chief of Caribbean Life and Rennie Bishop, former program director of WWRL-AM who was unable to attend the event.
With gratitude oozing from patrons, thespians, and the presenters Walcott opined on the state of Caribbean theater.
“Things haven’t changed that much” Walcott said about the passion actors emote when presenting his work.
“When it (Pantomime) was first presented, our actors were on par with our cricketers,” Walcott explained about the superiority of thespians throughout the Caribbean. During that era, West Indian athletes who played the British sport were regarded with much repute.
The compliment seemed to resonate well with Mandingo who portrayed the character of a very territorial, anti-imperialist, anti-colonial, independent, sarcastic, proud and talented Caribbean man.
The play ran three consecutive nights thru the weekend.