Words of wisdom for writers

Eleven Barbadian playwrights and writers participated in a workshop, led by multiple award-winning American playwright Katori Hall on April 9. The US Embassy to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean helped facilitate the workshop at Frank Collymore Hall in partnership with the Gale Theatre of Barbados and London.

Hall, a 32 year old African-American playwright, has focused on issues of love, gender and race in her work. Her play, The Mountaintop, about Martin Luther King Jr.’s last night on earth won the Laurence Olivier Awards in March 2010.

Using an excerpt from her new play Blood Quilt as a jumping off point, the workshop focused on questions of authenticity, writing dialogue and effective conflict.

“Write in your tongue,” Hall told the participants. “Only you can do them in a way that is authentic, true and loving. When I write about the South a lot of people can be dismissive of it — 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. It’s a lot of responsibility but 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.”

Poet and writer Winston Farrell read from his play House of Landship and credited the workshop with helping his process.

“I felt good about that 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,” he said.

The Mountaintop is being staged by the Gale Theatre of Barbados and London and Hall also attended the premiere. The US Embassy, Gale Theatre and the National Organisation of Women will be working with local women to put on another series of workshops using drama therapy to help women who have experienced domestic violence.

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