Janine setting stage alight
by Kimberley Cummins
Watching people is one of Janine White’s favourite things to do.
When she was younger she would just sit on buses and at bus stops watching the traffic as it passed by and the people as they interacted with each other.
No, she is not a stalker. She is an artist with a unique technique to improve on her craft.
Just as everything changes with time so has she, now she has moved away from bus stops and instead prefers to observe and analyse customers waiting in the queue at the local bank where she works.
This approach has so far served her well. As many may remember, last year she set the Frank Collymore Hall stage on fire in her performance of This Body Is Not Mine at the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts. She won the Prime Minister’s Scholarship and its $3,500 prize towards studies in the Arts.
In 2011 she was also hilarious and thought-provoking in the piece Waiting In Line. For this number she won a Silver Award, The Alfred Pragnell Challenge Shield, Most Promising Presentation and Best Theatrical Piece. This year she is expected to once again light up the stage with her performances, however, she is still very unsure about where she wants her future in drama to go.
In an interview with BarbadosTODAY the former The St. Michael School student said that she was considering pursuing a Masters Degree in Cultural Studies but as for drama she was unsure because at first she saw her art as a hobby, now it seemed as if there was real promise in it.
“To me I just always entered NIFCA because it was ‘hey let me try something new’ and it was nothing that I could say I was really a competition buff. I performed my poetry at a number of places: Barbados Writers’ Collective, Baje Youth Poets, Sheraton Centre, Mahalia’s Corner, just little performances . . . but for me it was just a hobby that I sometimes used to like to share but now it is like there is real promise in doing it.
“People always tell me ‘oh gosh, the bank is not the place for you’ but right now it is my home, but there is always that artistic side of me that is screaming sometimes for release to really express myself,†my avenue to vent, get through emotional times, I guess to unwind but sometimes you can’t do that being conformed to your desk and uniform.”
White entered NIFCA in 2003 for the first time with a piece called I Am Not Mad. For this she won a bronze award. Though this was her introduction to wider Barbados, many students at the Barbados Community College would have, on many occasions held their bellies and laughed to her humour. At primary school she said she always had a fancy for writing compositions but it was walking around Morning Side or by Eyrie House, liming by the canteen or sitting in classrooms at the college that her creativity burst out. BCC days were the time she wrote her first play.
“It is a very funny story,” she said and laughed.
“Every girl at a certain age confides in their diary so I would write things that happen daily at BCC in my dairy. A lot of them was funny stuff and it became that I wrote an entire play about my days at BCC and it was called Dear Diary. I used to perform it in the area of the canteen and I became very popular then as a performer.
“All the characters were my friends and everything that happened at BCC I documented. I guess that is how I really developed the confidence and everything that a performer needs just from Dear Diary. Every play started Dear Diary. . ., I started to share it with friends and then anyone that would listen at BCC. Everyday whatever happened on that day would be made into a skit, so if there was a fight, if there was a cuss out, how awful, how boring a class was and then people started to share things with me and had me write them in Dear Diary. It was really exciting,” she said.
This confidence continued throughout her years at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill campus where she studied Sociology and Psychology. At the UWI, the Humanities department held performances, similar to Woodstock, where she performed poetry readings and began writing poetry in addition to short stories. So even though she said she did not know as yet where drama falls in her future, she was certain that it would always play a role in her life.