A number of local writers and playwrights got the opportunity of a lifetime when they sat in a workshop with international playwright Katori Hall.
Hall, the writer of The Mountaintop – a fictitious play showcasing the last night of Martin Luther King’s Jr’s life, was in Barbados, compliments the US Embassy, for the Caribbean premier of the play at the Frank Collymore Hall. She shared some of her experiences with participants on the eve of the premier.
“Write in your tongue,” Hall told the participants. “Only you can do them in a way that is authentic, true and loving. Write your tongue! When I write about the South a lot of people can be dismissive of it.
“They say ‘Why don’t you write about New York City or LA?” But this is the where I come from, this is the way I walk in this world. It’s very important for you to be that [writer]. It’s a lot of responsibility but because you are there and the cadences and rhythms are there in your blood and in your memory your writing is the only way we will get an authentic portrayal of those stories.”
Hall added: “Plays are stories of witness. Unlike film or reading short stories, the audience completes this art form. Movies can be distributed like a piece of music that can be recorded. Plays are different every night — they are never the same because the audience’s reactions may change, or the actor’s performance changes. That is not to say that films are better or worse, they are just different to live theatre.”
Two well known Barbadian writers who attended the workshop commented:
“The experience tonight was, I keep thinking refreshing. Not sure that is the right word but that fits. It was my intention to take whatever I got today and learned for my writing in all areas and I definitely learned quite a bit that I can take to enhance my writing. Also [these tools] may reignite the writing a play at this stage of my life,” stated Sandra Sealy.
Winston Farrell, who read an excerpt from his play House of Landship, said: “I felt good about having the group read this work in progress. Katori and the others helped bring up some issues in the work which I can continue to think about and work on.”
In addition to those workshops, Gale Theatre will also be working with the National Organisation of Women and Tiger Eye in a theatre information exchange to mount a series of drama therapy workshops, where the play will be used as an educational tool to help at risk women and girls deal with some of the turmoil and difficult experiences which they may encounter.
In addition to the workshops, 75 female students from schools and Barbados Community College aged 16 to 18 years, and women were given complimentary tickets to view the matinee show on April 12. This included sitting in on a Q&A session with the actors after, in a gathering that was led by Amanda Cumberbatch of Tiger Eye.