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Caribbean actors pay tribute to famous Trini playwright

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More than a half dozen Caribbean actors are going to perform excerpts from Zeno Obi Constance’s plays at TheatreLab Studios on Dec. 10. Parts from eight of the Trinidadian playwright’s work will be read by some of the rising and dominant names in Caribbean theatre in “From Page to Stage: A Caribbean Journey.”

The show, which is dedicated to the popular and distinguished playwright, was inspired by the impact his play had on the show’s producer and his overall notoriety in the Caribbean.

“I think it’s time to recognize this gentleman and all that the Caribbean has benefitted from him,” said Merlina Rich of Banana Boat Productions. “He’s very generous and has never asked for a penny, and he is very professional. I’m very happy to know I’m doing work and I wanted to give him this recognition.

After discovering one of his play’s years ago, Rich was taken aback by his unique approach and writing style.

“When I first read ‘The Ritual,’ I said ‘Wow, this is different,’” said Merlina Rich of Banana Boat Productions.

After being highly impressed with the play, she reached to Constance and wanted to produce a show about the play. After a successful run of the reading, Rich says she wanted to revive more of his work because his plays tackle a lot relatable situations that would resonate with audiences. She says he covers so many topics and has a storytelling ability that makes his work standout a lot.

“His work studies human pain and laughter, and he just has a certain language that he uses to write,” said Rich. “He explores social issues of Caribbean and people trying to search for self-actualization, especially for young people.”

At the two-hour show, eight Caribbean actors, with ancestry from Jamaica, Trinidad, and St. Croix, are going to read excerpts from: De Roaring 70s, The Road Made To Walk, Duelling Voices, The Ritual, Duelling Voices, Agouti’s Tale, Patricia, A Love Story, and Cinderella Syndrome. The actors who will be reading excerpts from the plays include, Lincoln Brown, Akeil Davis. Emilio Evans, Lori Sinclair Minor, Nyanda Cammock, Dianne Dixon, Marsha Ann Hay, and Karl O’Brian Williams.

Rich says she chose those plays because while she believes that most of Constance’s work, always leave a lesson behind for its audience.

“He never preaches but there’s always a nice lesson and something to learn,” she said.

Her favorite plays in particular are “Agouti’s Tale” and “Patricia, A Love Story.”

The show will also be free to all guests, with suggested donations of $10.

She says this show should be of interest to anyone who wants to familiarize themselves with Constance’s work, and learn a few tidbits of life in the region and the style of theatre to come out the region.

“They will get insight to various aspects of life in the Caribbean, school life, and the certain conditions in Caribbean, because his writing can be held up as a mirror,” said Rich. “There’s something for everyone and one can find all of the above in one play.”

“From Page to Stage: A Caribbean Journey” at TheatreLab Studios [357 W. 36th St. between Eighth and Ninth avenues in Garment District, (212) 586-8767, www.bananaboatproductions.org.] Dec. 10 at 7 pm. Free ($10 suggested donation).

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @AS1mon.
Posted 12:00 am, December 7, 2018
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