On Friday 9th October 2015, I was afforded the opportunity to see the opening night of Teatro Journee‘s presentation of “Working with P.E.P“. It was more than a show, it was an experience, utilizing other mini performances and engaging activities after the show. Last month a number of local thespians, including myself, were bemoaning the existence of a lackluster two sentence description of the Trinbagonian Theatrical landscape, which we found in a certain ‘tourist guide booklet’. On the contrary, our work is amazing, we need more than two sentences!
The work is reminiscent of Jamaica’s Sistren Theatre Collective and their Documentary Theatre/ Protest theatre, due to graphic dramatization of the lives of those oppressed by our society, done by an all female cast and director. The performance of “Working with P.E.P” was a near perfect example of how to create and maintain the “suspension of disbelief“. We often take for granted that an audience would suspend their disbelief, however it is our job as performer(s) to create and maintain the conditions necessary for the activity. “Working with P.E.P” was well paced, engaging, pore raising, enjoyable and prize worthy.
ABOUT THE PLAY:
“Working with P.E.P” written by local playwright Lisa- Morris Julian tells the stories of three women who work in the Community -based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme otherwise known as C.E.P.E.P.. The play carries us on a journey which highlights the sudden judgements of society because of their chosen career and the class system that enslaves us still today. They are almost invisible to society as they are classed as merely stereotypes. One look at this play and you would see strong, courageous, fearful, fearless women who no longer guard their vulnerability but are now fighting for their voices to be heard” (Teatro Journee).
When the acting is good everything falls into place. Anisty Frederick, Tyker Pionero Giselle and Zoe White worked really well together. White’s performance was nothing short of committed, believable, and entertaining. Frederick’s strong presence and powerful voice captivated you especially when she sang, and Giselle’s performance commendable, though it seemed a bit ‘too much’ at first, it got better as the show progressed.
The lighting worked in perfect unison with the action (if there were errors I didn’t notice), so no complaints there. The costuming was both adequate and detailed. Although the play traversed time, place and memories the three actors were dressed as ‘C.E.P.E.P. workers’ throughout the play. Each character was dressed within the framework of the personal identity of the specific worker. An example of this was the worker who did no work had the newest and cleanest clothing and accessories. In addition to characterization, various pieces of cloth, hand and set properties were used to facilitate the transitions from location, time and with characters. The sound/ sound effects were functional and complemented the play very well, my only complaint is that the initial recorded announcements came on too loudly, but it was fixed almost immediately.
One of my favourite quotes is “You see the hand of the director less when the performance is good, and you see it a lot more when it’s bad” (Dr. L. Efebo Wilkinson). I found myself trying to figure out how much of the performance was done by the hand of the director, how much was the playwright’s vision and how much of it was the actor’s interpretation (s).
Furthermore, the Trinidad Theatre Workshop‘s theatrical space is intimate, but holds a fair amount of difficulty to maneuver to create a performance. This space isn’t your usual proscenium view. The director has to shape the action so that it has to be presented to three different audiences simultaneously or split the action in such a way that you craft what you want specific sections to see. Tafar Chia Lewis accomplished this to a near masterful efficiency.
Much gratitude for an amazing experience!