Is this it? Is this the best we have to offer in terms of theatre?
These were just two of the questions I asked myself as I exited the Frank Collymore Hall on Sunday night following the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) Theatre Arts Finals.
It was an enjoyable night, yes! However, theatre night is usually one of the most talked about but, this year, something seemed to be missing.
Usually, from the preliminary rounds, theatre has always been that one talked-about performance that was a must-see. However this year, that was not the case. In essence, the wow factor was missing.
As a theatre lover myself, the finals were good at best, compared with previous years but I was expecting a whole lot more in this 50th year of our nation’s Independence. Even the number of finalists, 14, was a bit daunting.
Was this all that was good enough to make the final cut? If this is the case, the powers that be should move with haste to save an art form that is loved by so many.
However, this is not to take away from the 14 performers who made the finals this year. They should be commended for a job well done. Kudos to them for at least making an effort, and being good enough to reach the finals.
Yolanda Holder, the only performer in the professional category, was definitely one of the best on the night. She has been performing for the last 20 years and this was evident.
Her piece, entitled House Maid’s Lament, was a tribute to the late Jeanette Layne Clarke and the bulk of the piece referenced her work. There was no mistaking Holder belonged in the professional category. The piece was funny and entertaining and should put her in good standing for a gold award.
I will be bold enough to say the judges should go ahead and give Akeem Chandler-Prescod gold awards for his two pieces Boys Will Be Boys and Prizefighter. The pieces were entertaining and to the point. His use of words was superb and he should definitely continue writing. He was a highlight of the night.
Shanice Wharton should also be in good standing to receive a gold award or a silver at least. Her acting was excellent in her piece No More Cover Girl, written by Carl ‘Alf’ Padmore. This piece was deep and the emotions were expertly brought out by Wharton.
The Regeneration Drama Group, founded by former member of the HMP drama group, Peter Forde, gave a good performance with a thought provoking piece. It reminded the appreciative audience that the things people say always make a difference and highlighted the fact that words have the ability to hurt.
Barbados Youth Service also gave a great performance of their piece The Birds, The Bees and HIV written by Winston Farrell. The piece highlighted many real life scenarios in order to bring awareness to how HIV is spread.
The Phoenix Performers, who are all visually impaired, should be commended for a job well done. Their piece, De Gully Belong to We, was funny and entertaining.
Iyanla Jordan is definitely one to watch for the future. Her piece, I In De Community, told a story of all that happens at the popular Q In De Community, evoking much laughter from the audience who agreed with all that she said.
Also performing were Alister Alexander, Lamarr Coward, Raquon Hinds, Azania Elcock, Damien Reid and Carl Chase.
Many are asking where were the likes of Janine White, Adrian Greene, DJ Simmonds and Jennifer Walker among others this time around. While the reasons for the absence of the others are unknown, Janine’s was due to a clash involving overseas travel dates and the finals.
“I did make the finals but I had previously booked a trip assuming that the NIFCA finals would be in the first week of November as it usually is but everything is a little early because of the celebrations for the 50th,” Janine said.
“I was sad. I know everyone was asking where I was…. I getting lots of phone calls asking why I wasn’t on stage at finals and so on. I was very sad but it is what it is.