Barbadian actors Sonia Williams and Levi King will join an international cast of actors for the Caribbean premiere of Carnival Medea – A Bacchanal in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
Williams and King will play the roles of Nen/Mama Neza and Tan/Chantwelle in the production to be presented by Lordstreet Theatre Company and Little Carib, in time for T&T Carnival 2017.
Williams is a performance artist, theatre director, writer, educator in theatre arts, inspirational speaker and activist. King is an award-winning actor and director, with a series of other talents including singing and songwriting.
In addition to the Barbadian actors, Carnival Medea will feature an all-star cast including acclaimed Trinidadian-Canadian actor Joseph Jomo Pierre as Jason, Tishanna Williams as Medea, Penelope Spencer, Cecilia Salazar, Susan Hannays-Abraham and Marie Chan-Durity as the Macomeres (Chorus), Kearn Samuel in the role of Creon/Aegeus and Norway-based Finnish performer Mari Pitkänen as the tourist/security to Aegeus.
The play, written by Dr Shirlene Holmes of Georgia State University and T&T’s Rhoma Spencer, re-tells the classic Greek tragedy of Medea, whose husband casts her aside for a younger woman, and how she takes revenge for the infidelity.
The work is re-imagined in a Trinbagonian setting, with the actors bringing to life such traditional masquerade characters as the Baby Doll, Pierrot Grenade, Dame Lorraine, Midnight Robber and Batonye.
In Carnival Medea, the Grenadian Medea, a baby doll, flees Carriacou with Jason, a Tobagonian stick fighter, to live in Trinidad. After some years of marriage, he forsakes her to marry a younger woman. Distraught, she is determined to wreak havoc on the new bride and spite Jason where it hurts the most – by denying him access to his two sons.
Chief executive officer of the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), Cranston Browne said the NCF was pleased to partner with Lordstreet Theatre in this venture.
“When we made the approach to the producers of this play, and asked if they would consider auditioning our actors via Skype, they readily agreed, immediately recognizing the value of strengthening regional partnerships in the arts,” he said.
“This collaboration is also significant because Barbados will be hosting CARIFESTA in August 2017. Local actors stand to benefit from the creation of an infrastructure that facilitates working in other Caribbean territories. This means greater employment opportunities, exposure to the expertise of specialists from other parts of the region, and through contact with them, further development of their skills, ultimately making our actors more marketable, and expanding the industry’s network,” he added.
Carnival Medea is set in Trinidad circa 1950s when the traditional masquerade characters were at the zenith of their existence in Carnival on the streets of Port of Spain.
“The decision to use the Mas characters was inevitable, as they are a dying performance art form and the full potential of the playing of these characters is not being expressed neither in narrative, dance, nor costuming today,” Spencer said.
Carnival Medea will run February 9-12, 16-19 and March 2-5, 2017 at the Little Carib Theatre, Port of Spain.