BADDESSE is the 2019 student production of the Department of Creative and Festival Arts (DCFA) of the University of the West Indies. The play, written by the students and lecturer of the Production II class in Theatre Arts, was developed to work towards eradication of Gender-based Violence (GBV) and Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) in T&T.
Telling the story of the rise of a fictitious, women-led, vigilante organization called The Black Widows, BADDESSE follows the retaliation by the sister of a woman murdered in an act of domestic violence. Banding together, women begin to stand up for themselves and return violence for violence. The organisation becomes nationally known and gets support from politicians and a local TV host. There’s a surprising twist where the real purpose of the organisation is revealed in a surprising conclusion. The play utilises an interactive dynamic where the audience is allowed and encouraged to participate in the play.
The persons responsible for the writing and staging of the play are lecturer and director Brendon Lacaille, Alister Edwards, Asher-Sade Borde, Karen Cain, Khadija Ramah, Kurlann Bradshaw, Megan Cox, Naiyla Nakhid, Neriah Alfred, Nickose Layne, Nishard Mohammed, Oduduwa Aluko, Rachel Henry, Rondel Mungal and Shelby Outar. The core information re GBV was drawn from a 2017 UN Women sponsored research on GBV in T&T.
Lacaille said the play was developed with three major aims: the telling of a story which critically considers GBV, the facilitation of an open forum for discussion, and a theatre presentation which will build a critical appreciation on the part of the audience of the concerns re the issue of GBV in T&T as it relates to VAWG. He said the play is asking
“what if? What if the unchecked issues continue to go unchecked and what if women decide to answer violence with violence? The play attempts to break certain rules regarding the audience and how they experience a theatre production. It also attempts to facilitate dialogue, which is needed in approaching these sensitive issues.”
He compared the formation of the Black Widow movement with the rise of Black Power and The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, who
“although they engaged in and promoted non-violent social interventions in their earlier engagements, their resonances today are still seen and felt as a product of a necessary, violent radicalism. Does the unchecked suffering and death caused by GBV in T&T warrant such extreme action? There is a clear understanding that the traditional safe spaces for girls and women – the school, the church, the home – to name a few, are no longer safe. If the Caribbean society is deemed a patriarchy which endangers women, with T&T being infused with this cultural, hegemonic, DNA, then, as in the case of The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, women need to take extreme measures to defend themselves and eradicate VAWG.”
The play will run from April 5 to 8 and April 13 to 15 at the DCFA Cheesman Building on Gordon Street in St Augustine. (Open Campus Compound). Show times are 8 pm daily and 6pm on Sundays. General admission tickets are currently available for $100. Tertiary students with student ID pay $75, and Secondary School students pay $50. Tickets for the second weekend will be sold by advance booking only.
Tickets are available at the DCFA, Administrative Offices, Cheesman Building, Gordon Street, St. Augustine. For further information and tickets contact the DCFA at 272-DCFA (3232) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.