by Kamilah Cadogan
Themed around the 75th anniversary of the 1937 disturbances, last night’s Crop-Over Read-In – Birthwrite – was one with a difference. The event started promptly after the eighth chime of the Parliament clock with a prayer from Rev. Onkphra Wells, accompanied by dancers from the NCF Internship Programme.
Opening remarks were delivered by Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley, who noted that he was pleased with the turn out and asked those present to take this opportunity to look back at the past in order to gauge our progress. Following his address, the dancers returned to the stage with a performance depicting the 1937 events.
The evening was divided into three segments. The first was titled Bimshire, which looked at the atmosphere that led to the 1937 disturbance. Performers in this segment included veteran Winston Farrell, who delivered one of his own pieces Make Us No Promises and one written by Anthony Hinkson titled Back to de Wall. Young up-and-coming writer Keisha Griffith teased the audience with part one of her narrative Lucky #14.
Richard Lynch also gave the audience the first part of his short story Under the Golden Halo and he was accompanied by drummer David Headley. Popular spoken word artiste DJ Simmons pleased the crowd with Clement’s Regrets and he was followed by Margaret Gill who performed the poem Come Quickly Sea.
Wuhloss was the title of the second segment which followed intermission and this was centred on the actual violence. Winston Farrell, Keisha Griffith, Richard Lynch, Nailah Imoja and Kenneth Jack Lewis came together with the dancers to deliver a very visually impactful performance of the poem Riot by Anthony Hinkson. Richard Lynch and Keisha Griffith followed with the second parts to their pieces. Margaret Gill returned to the stage to perform Of Moss and Mermaids.
But it was Lewis who had the audience in stitches with his hilarious piece First Time in Donkey Years. His performance had everyone hanging on every word and delighted with the little twist at the end. Next was Naila Imoja with her poetic prose Birthwrite.
Veteran calypsonian Adonijah teamed up with DJ Simmons for a collaboration of calypso and spoken word. The two combined Adonijah’s popular song Woman with Simmon’s piece Big Up a Girl Like Woman, which was well received by the audience. Farell got the crowd moving in their seats with his dub rhythm poem Black Knight and Adonijah returned to the stage with the dancers to perform Jump for Freedom. He also thrilled the crowd by showing he also had some moves of his own.
The final segment Barbados Is and Can Be, focused on the future and how we can move forward as a country and a people. Lynch concluded his story Under the Golden Halo and was followed by talented writer Shakirah Bourne with her piece Lost Heritage, which took the audience on a journey through time, highlighting the changes in the thinking of society. Bonnie Deveido took the stage with a rap titled Secret Society, followed by Imoja with a poem called Concrete.
Lewis returned, accompanied by the Haynesville Dancers to perform Savage Samaritan. iNDRANi’s was the final performance of the night with poetic song Star.
The entire Read-In cast returned to the stage following the vote of thanks by producer Ayesha Gibson-Gill to perform Heroes, bringing the curtain down on a night filled with talent. It was certainly a journey through history through the use of poetry, prose, dance and song.