Theatre NotesWritten by Jo-Ann Peters
From Saturday, April 21, 2012
Old Story Time is a great piece of modern theatre about Caribbean people and some of their post-colonial attitudes and foibles. Written and first produced in 1979 by Jamaica’s brilliant Trevor Rhone, the play is just as relevant today in St. Kitts and Nevis and perhaps even more so than ever. For this reason we must thank C. “Bouncin” Williams and his National Players Theatre Movement for their timely production of the play in St. Kitts on the 20th, 21st and 22nd of April.
In my opinion, the play deserves a longer run, not only because it is one of the plays set for the CXC English B examinations in May/June of this year, but also because we should welcome and support the return of the National Players Theatre Movement to the local scene, and their promise to present first-rate locally produced theatrical offerings on our shores once more.
I was among a contingent of several people from Nevis who went to St. Kitts for the performance on Saturday, April 21st. We had been starved of good theatre fare or even any meagre crumbs of theatre offerings at all, so we were hungry for some meaningful measure of stagecraft. On Saturday night C. “Bouncin” Williams and his group served up a dish to tantalize any true theatre lover’s palate. I will not attempt to offer a proper critique, but I will say that every member of the cast deserves to be commended for their performance. And Producer-Director C. “Bouncin” Williams made maximum use of the stage space and skilful placement of the actors within it, even though it was a very tight squeeze in many instances. So applause is also due to those responsible for assembling a workable Rube Goldberg type of setting.
There were no weak links in this company of players, even though some of the roles were obviously much larger than others. But all brought a satisfying ring of truth in their portrayals. This augurs well for future productions where weighty roles might be more evenly distributed among performers. I believe they will be up to the task. Our contingent from Nevis was very favourably impressed. We did have a few notable concerns however.
The lighting facilities at Sir Cecil Jacobs Auditorium are terribly limited and the stage depth seems to be quite shallow. These are drawbacks which present technical challenges for mounting any except the most simple of theatrical productions. In this case I think the problems were dealt with reasonably well. I was unhappy however with the use of microphones and sound system for most of the performers. The volume levels were uneven and very often distracting. Too often static, thumps, bumps, squawks and other noises from the sound equipment were delivered along with the dialogue, somewhat spoiling the effect.
It is my opinion that amplification is not needed for normal theatrical productions in that auditorium, and that it is an intrusion on the artistic sensibilities of both performer and audience. In the first place, voice projection is one of every serious actor’s primary tools. A few simple exercises in breath control and voice projection should allow any healthy performer to be heard anywhere in an auditorium of that size without electronic amplification.
My intention is not to quibble about any perceived drawbacks however, but to sing the praises of a very deserving and determined group of thespians, the National Players Theatre Movement and their Founder, Producer and Director, C. “Bouncin” Williams. They are supposed to be presenting another theatrical production sometime in May. I’m looking forward to it with such great anticipation, I can hardly wait!
On a closing note: This weekend on Saturday April 28th, a new facility known as the Nevis Performing Arts Centre (NEPAC) is to be officially opened in Nevis. Perhaps it won’t be necessary any more for a contingent from Nevis to take the ferry and overnight in St. Kitts in order to see what the National Players Theatre Movement has to offer. Perhaps this group will soon be able to mount their productions at NEPAC as well as in St. Kitts from time to time. According to a news item in the April 20 issue of the Leewards Times, the manager of the “Nevis Performing Arts Theatre” is quoted as saying, “We want this facility to be available to groups in the art that provide quality performance.” I second the motion!