Students from the St Joseph’s Convent Grenville Drama Society and the Fyzabad Composite Secondary School (Trinidad) will present a mini-drama festival and cultural exchange at Deluxe Cinema on 28 and 29 January 2017. Two 1–hour plays will be mounted starting at 4 pm. These plays are The Cinderella Syndrome, and Jean and Dinah. The actors of The Cinderella Syndrome are from SJC Grenville, while Fyzabad Composite Secondary School actors tell the story of the famous Jean and Dinah from the Mighty Sparrow’s popular calypso.
The Cinderella Syndrome is directed by Abena Vincent, SJCG’s Literature and drama teacher, and director of the Drama Society. Zeno Obi Constance, writer of The Cinderella Syndrome directs Fyzabad students in Jean and Dinah, written by Tony Hall.
Both plays address the challenges that some women face in life, plus issues that confront our society in general. The protagonist of The Cinderella Syndrome is Virginia Dubois. In reality, she is in a mental institution, unable to deal with a crime she has committed. But in her mind, she is Cinderella. In order to escape her circumstances, she’s found it fit to be someone else. Jean and Dinah are 2 “jammettes” who have left their “bad-john” lives in Port of Spain behind. They exchange stories as Jean tries to get Dinah to leave the house one Jouvert morning to play mas. The plays, while dealing with issues of family relationships, sexual abuse, domestic violence, prostitution and relationships, also offer bellyfuls of laughter in the way these dynamic stories are told.
SJC Grenville students are excited and nervous about their performance, as this will be the first time on stage for many of the 15 Drama Society members. The students make up the cast and crew for the play, working on costumes and set, and acting. They believe that “people can learn about how wrong it is to hit their husbands or wives. Chirsta Harford, a budding writer, who plays the role of Prince Charming, hopes that “people also understand that abuse is real — physical or mental. When someone makes you feel bad and your mind starts playing with you, you can go crazy. Accepting normal life can be a battle between fantasy and reality.” On the issue of verbal abuse, Form 2 student, Harmony Grant made it clear in the poetry of Edgar Allen Poe, that “Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.” Students Krystel Williams, Shadel Charles and Deyella Findley play the parts of Cinderella and her fairy godmother. Aliza Farray and others interchange between different roles in the play.
The horrors that life can present are things that Abena Vincent, teacher and director, feels we shouldn’t hide from our children. Vincent, a 2015 Drama graduate of the Edna Manley School of Visual and Performing Arts, and UWI Mona, Jamaica, believes that her students are well equipped to tell these serious stories, which uses the fantasy framework that we are all familiar with, and which reflects the youthfulness in all of us. She wants young women to understand that their goal in life should not be to find a man in a castle. With regard to relationships, she says, “We have real boys, real men who make mistakes, do wrong things, and those who do right things. Our girls need to learn how to cope, how to coexist with all the things out there. Forget happily ever after, don’t be clouded by fantasy. Make good choices.”
The Cinderella Syndrome also includes singing and dancing and is supported by the staff and past students of SJC Grenville. The play will feature the exquisite vocals of former SJCG student Sherese Berkley. Principal, Linda Francis, is happy that her students are taking on this challenge, which is supported by teachers like Ms St Clair, Ms Stacey Ann Jones, Kinnard Blache, Kellon Jackson, and others. Ms Akada Ventour, a past student, is another strong supporter of the event. Mr Glen Noel has extended himself to ensure the success of this venture, and Mr Roger “Frenchy” Williams, a UWI Drama graduate has also dropped into rehearsals to help the girls prepare for their big debut.
The SJCG girls are looking forward to meeting their counterparts from the Fyzabad Composite Secondary School. Zeno Obi Constance, playwright and director, is happy to once again have his work presented in Grenada. His love for Grenada and its people began before he ever visited the country. His artistic and scholarly work honours the lives of Grenadians who made Trinidad their home, namely, Trade Unionist, Uriah “Buzz” Butler, and Calypsonian, Emrol “Valentino” Phillip. Zeno presented his play De Roaring 70s at the Deluxe Cinema in July 2016, when he and the Fyzabad Connection Theatre Company visited the children’s performing group, Ashanti Footprints, from Upper St John, St Andrew.
The students of the Fyzabad Composite Secondary School are second place winners of Trinidad’s national Secondary Schools Drama Festival. They won the preliminary and secondary rounds of the competition with their presentation of Jean and Dinah.
The SJC Grenville Drama Society girls are looking forward to this theatrical and cultural exchange experience presented by Ms Vincent. Every evening after school, they gather in a classroom upstairs the school to change into their costumes and rehearse their lines and dance routines for their theatrical debut on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 January 2017 at the Deluxe Cinema, Grenville. Tickets are $20 for adults and 10 for students and are available at St Andrew’s Pharmacy and the school. Ms Vincent has high hopes for SJCG’s Drama Society. She is looking forward for them to present at the upcoming Caribbean Secondary School Drama Festival in Antigua, October 2017.
Ms Vincent expresses what she expect the audience and the actors will glean from this theatre weekend. “Each production gives you valuables. Hold on to those valuables, treasure them; expand on them. Whatever gold you can find from these plays, treasure it.”