Trinidad & Tobago sets high standard at the Caribbean Secondary Schools’ Drama Festival

On December 3rd 2017, the students of Naparima College returned to Trinidad and Tobago with 10 awards from the Caribbean Secondary School Drama Festival, including the Vaughn M. Walter Award for Best Original Script, the Eleston Adams Award for Best Directing, and the Award for Best Overall Production.

The Festival, which ran from November 26th – December 2nd, 2017 in Antigua, was the 10th biennial installment of an initiative started in 1994 by Trinidad and Tobago’s Victor Edwards, and Icill Phillip of Barbados. To date, the Caribbean Secondary Schools’ Drama Festival (CSSDF), remains the first and only Performing Arts exchange program for Secondary Schools in the Caribbean region.

This year, the CSSDF saw 60 students from six countries of the English speaking Caribbean, come together to share #OneCaribbeanStage each night, at the Dean William Lake Cultural Centre, in St. John’s, Antigua.

Naparima College, having achieved the highest score at the 2016 Secondary Schools’ Drama Festival in Trinidad and Tobago, qualified to represent T&T. Their presentation was The Inspector; an original play written and directed by Simeon Moodoo, based on the July 2015 Port of Spain jailbreak and the Vindra Naipaul-Coolman trial of the accused murderers.


Secondary Schools’ Drama Festival 2016 Awards List


Team Trinidad and Tobago at VC Bird Memorial Statue, St. John's, Antigua for the Caribbean Secondary Schools' Drama Festival
Team Trinidad and Tobago at VC Bird Memorial Statue, St. John’s, Antigua Photo Courtesy: The Cultural Development Division – Antigua and Barbuda

At the festival, Trinidad and Tobago was the first country to perform and left a lasting impression on patrons, festival participants, and the three adjudicators.

In speaking with the T&T Performing Arts Network, Dr. Yvonne Weekes – the head adjudicator, and lecturer in Theatre at the University of the West Indies at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination said,

 “I was blown away both by the maturity of the theme chosen and the opening image of the play which was striking. In some ways, I was glad that Trinidad and Tobago was first. They set such a high standard for the other territories to follow.”

Kaveesh Silvan (left) and Daniel Baptiste (right) in 'The Inspector' for the 10th Biennial Caribbean Secondary Schools' Drama Festival | Photo Courtesy: The Cultural Development Division – Antigua and Barbuda
Kaveesh Sylvan (left) and Daniel Baptiste (right) in ‘The Inspector’ for the 10th Biennial Caribbean Secondary Schools’ Drama Festival | Photo Courtesy: The Cultural Development Division – Antigua and Barbuda

Another adjudicator – Elaine Spires; actress, director, producer, and writer whose theatre career has taken her to the West End remarked,

“It was so much more than I was expecting at the secondary school level. It was on par with what you can see in adult and professional theatre. It was a complete piece of theatre that worked on every level.”

 

Emmanuel Williams (left), Justin Lee (center) and Joshua Dowlath (right) in 'The Inspector' for the 10th Biennial Caribbean Secondary Schools' Drama Festival | Photo Courtesy: The Cultural Development Division – Antigua and Barbuda
Emmanuel Williams (left), Justin Lee (center) and Joshua Dowlath (right) in ‘The Inspector’ for the 10th Biennial Caribbean Secondary Schools’ Drama Festival | Photo Courtesy: The Cultural Development Division – Antigua and Barbuda

While Pierre Lemaire – the final adjudicator, and Dean of the School of Drama, Edna Manley College, Jamaica, expressed how mesmerized he was by the congruity of the entire production.

“I really enjoyed it. The way it was written, the way the drama was structured was very clever, and it was very well directed.”

He also made particular mention of how well the music supported the drama, and the cohesion of the ensemble.

"Side by Side we stand". 'The Inspector' for the 10th Biennial Caribbean Secondary Schools' Drama Festival | Photo Courtesy: The Cultural Development Division – Antigua and Barbuda
“Side by Side we stand”. ‘The Inspector’ for the 10th Biennial Caribbean Secondary Schools’ Drama Festival | Photo Courtesy: The Cultural Development Division – Antigua and Barbuda

Describing the journey of ‘The Inspector’ from its first performance in Trinidad and Tobago, to its presentation in Antigua and Barbuda, playwright and director – Simeon Moodoo said,

“We did a number of shows before we came to the [Caribbean] Festival, so we had a lot of practice. Rehearsal wise, we had a lot of ups and downs, but the hard work paid off.”


Review: ‘The Inspector’ – a gunshot right in the heart of our country’s moral spirit


“Our process has been very collaborative from the beginning. My approach has always been working with the boys, listening to their ideas, their interpretations, and working all the aspects of it together.

This current cast and crew is not the original cast and crew; we had a lot of people, mostly the musicians joining us late in the process. However, they were able to fit in quite well. We did not use all the music from the original production either, so the new musicians also had to create some of the new music. They did such a good job that they got an award for it.” (See full awards list below)

Moodoo also gave thanks for the support of the principal of Naparima College, Dr. Michael Dowlath; Mrs. Jeanelle Archer-Chan who came on board as the co-director and acting coach.

“Her input really raised the standard of the work we had from the previous festival in Trinidad.”

Mrs. Colleen Norville-Hutton for the work she did with costume and makeup, and  Triston Wallace for his choreography.

“The production would not have been what it is without everybody playing their role”


When asked about his experience at the Festival, Moodoo commended the support of  The Cultural Development Division – Antigua and Barbuda and the Police Service. However, he expressed disappointment in the scheduling with respect to performances, lamenting late starts on many nights, and insufficient time allotted to technical rehearsal.

He states,

“The next time a festival is being done whether it is another country or here [Antigua] itself, more attention needs to be paid to the value of technical rehearsals to productions.”


At the Awards Dinner and Closing Ceremony at Barnacle Point, on December 2nd, Trinidad and Tobago walked away with 10 out of 16 Awards.

Of his feelings on the accolades received, Moodoo said,

“I think it is just really pride and confidence in the boys and I hope they continue to stay involved in drama.”

The Inspector After Antigua
The cast and company of ‘The Inspector’ display their awards at Naparima College | Photo Credit: Jaedon Maharaj-Ali

Here is the full list of Awardees at the 10th Biennial Caribbean Secondary Schools’ Drama Festival

Technical Awards

  1. Best Stage Management – Antigua and Barbuda
  2. Best LightingTogether Forever (Antigua and Barbuda)
  3. Best Sound/MusicThe Inspector (Trinidad and Tobago)
  4. Best Set Design –  A Cinderella Story (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) and Together Forever (Antigua and Barbuda)

Awards for Best Acting in Each Production

  1. Best Acting Awards – Akeya Herbert (British Virgin Islands), Aleandara Adams (Guyana), Alicia Allison (Montserrat), Daniel Baptiste (Trinidad and Tobago), Jeremiah Charles (Antigua and Barbuda), Keann Meade (Montserrat), Rudell London (Guyana), Tamara Woodley (St. Vincent and the Grenadines)

Awards for Overall Excellence

  1. Most Promising Performer (Male) – Jacquon Alexander (Antigua and Barbuda)
  2. Most Promising Performer (Female) – Sierra Letloco (Antigua and Barbuda)
  3. Most Promising Actor – Justin Lee (Trinidad and Tobago)
  4. Best Supporting Actor –Kaveesh Sylvan (Trinidad and Tobago) and Haldane Zerda (Montserrat)
  5. Best Overall Actor – Daniel Baptiste (Trinidad and Tobago) and Justin Lee (Trinidad and Tobago)
  6. Best Overall Actress – Ingrid Shaw (Antigua and Barbuda) and Shari Marks (St. Vincent and the Grenadines)
  7. Best EnsembleA Cinderella Story (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) and The Inspector (Trinidad and Tobago )
  8. Best Original Script (Vaughn M. Walter Award) – Simeon Moodoo (Trinidad and Tobago)
  9. Best Directing (Eleston Adams Award) – Jillian Llewellyn (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) and  Simeon Moodoo (Trinidad and Tobago)
  10. Most Original ProductionA Cinderella Story (St. Vincent and the Grenadines)
  11. Best Overall ProductionThe Inspector (Trinidad and Tobago)

The Next Caribbean Secondary Schools’ Drama Festival will be held in St. Lucia in 2019.

 

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