‘Old Story Time’ for school stages
– Countrywide dramatisation of CXC English B Text
For the third year running, Top Cat Theatre Productions, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Culture, will aid students taking English B at 2012 Caribbean Secondary School’s Examination “CSEC” on May 11, by staging a drama around Guyana.
The initiative targets some 9,000 students in both government- and privately-run schools.
Since being launched in 2010 with the staging of August Wilson’s Fences, there has been a commensurate improvement in Literature performances, more so in the Drama papers.
This year a dramatized version of the CXC text “Old Story Time” will be taken to select schools along the coast.
The play is, at its core, about the attitudes to difference skin colour, both socially and economically in Jamaica for more than thirty-five years now. That all persons of colour are not equal is painfully made clear in the drama. Miss Aggy, a black-skinned woman being expertly played by Nikki Moonsammy, rejects the circumstances foisted upon her by colouration, but wants better for her black son Lennard, being played by Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor Travis Chase.
She who vehemently says “Nothing Black Nuh Good”, needs her son not to be wed to a black woman, which he does anyway, behind her back. Miss Aggy believes that only “obeah” can be responsible for her son’s disobedience.
Len’s wife is being played by Timolyn Barclay, a National Drama Festival winner, to perfection. Miss Aggy is prepared to kill her son’s black wife, by “Dark” means at the risk of her own self, so deep is her hatred for her own colour.
One of the great achievements of this version of the much Guyanese performed Old Story Time, is the performance of Chris Gopaul as George McFarlane. George is described as ubiquitously evil, has haunted Lennard from boyhood, is currently swindling his Mom, blackmailing his wife Lois whom he has previously sexually harassed, and is now trying to coerce Len.
George is the consummate embodiment of evil that no other light-skinned Guyanese actor has ever fulfilled. This is the opinion of Director Godfrey Naughton-Henry, who has seen every major version of this play staged in Guyana. The enormity of the conflict designed by Trevor Rhone, has at last being realised on the local stage. All the other conflicts, for example, good versus evil, black versus not so white, common sense versus spiritual beliefs, are all dealt with aplomb by this all-star cast.
The painful spectre of “easy” girls being sexually preyed upon is encapsulated in the character Pearl, poignantly played by Candacy Baveghens.
Pa Ben, the storyteller, is being played by Godfrey, who serves to move this gut-wrenching drama at a “breakneck speed”.
This has made the play “wildly entertaining,” Godfrey boasts, saying that many a previous director was caught up with the complexity of Old Story Time and mistook it for a play that requires slow explanation, and obviously instituted a slow-paced drama that bored audiences. The cost of admission is $400. Tickets are available at schools, venues and the National Cultural Centre. All shows begin at all venues at 11:00 hrs. The entire tour is being sponsored by Digicel for the second year running. The itinerary is as follows:
On March 28, the play will be staged at the Anna Regina Multilateral School; March 29 at Lichas Hall, Linden; April 2 at New Amsterdam Multilateral School; April 3 at Skeldon Line Oath Secondary; April 4 at Lower Corentyne Secondary; and from April 10-12 at the National Cultural Centre.