Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 28th 2015 Contents special place in my heart. My first
production was staged there and
so much tremendous theatre has
gone through there, it s a sacred
place, almost, for theatre. It s
The theatre landscape has
changed since you began your
hiatus? How do you view what
you re seeing today?
What s happening in theatre is
quite interesting. There are people
tackling a lot more musicals.
Recently we ve seen lots of musi-
It s something that people were
not dreaming of tackling even in
the earlier 2000 s. All of this
started pretty much in the late
2000 s. It s nice to see people are
actually taking on these chal-
lenges because a musical is not
an easy thing to stage and cer-
tainly not a cheap thing to stage.
I ve seen a lot of original work
coming out as well.
I ve seen Penny Spencer has
been writing a lot of work which
is really great. We have Rhoma
Spencer coming out with Medea.
We have something coming from
me later this year. Richard Ragoo-
barsingh is writing.
Ricardo Samuel writes. It s
nice. It s challenging. It s growing.
It s stretching its limbs and trying
to feel itself out. I think theatre s
in a pretty good place right now.
After Ti-Jean and His Broth-
ers, what are your plans?
I had indicated before that I
was writing as well. There is a
Cinderella story in Trinidad.
It s our own story with our own
language, music and folklore
characters; Papa Bois, La Diab-
lesse, Minstrels, Devils, Imps and
not to mention a Queen of the
Band costume, which I will not
reveal too much about right now.
But yes, I will be staging Cin-
derella at Queen s Hall and NAPA
South in September of this year.
• Provided by Monkey Mountain
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, May 28, 2015
Christine. Where have you been
and what have you been doing?
For the past six years I ve been
involved in advertising. I m a Senior
Copywriter and the Electronic Pro-
ducer for an ad agency called Publicis
Caribbean Limited, and it s been a
great deal of fun---very, very challeng-
ing and of course a source of steady
income for the past six years, which,
of course, as most people would know,
theatre is not.
What compelled you to return to
To be frank, as theatre is my first
love. I actually left steady employment
to go out into the theatre in 1997 I
think it was, and ran my company,
the Baggasse Company for a number
of years before basically having to give
into the economics of it because I was
in quite a bit of debt and I was a little
burnt out so I had to step back, take
a job and pay off some bills. I wouldn t
lie to you, the day my last installment
was paid, I was back thinking about
Is this the first time that you re
working on a Walcott piece?
Ti-Jean and His Brothers is a clas-
sic Caribbean play. Do you feel any
anxiety directing the work of such a
giant as Walcott?
I don t feel anxious about directing
the piece because I love the piece. I
can only bring to the piece my com-
plete joy in the work and my respect
for the words that Walcott has written.
Of course I think it s a fine respon-
sibility, but I want to say I m not anx-
ious, I m actually kind of anticipatory.
I m having a wonderful time.
What is your vision for the pro-
As I keep saying, Ti-Jean and His
Brothers is a Caribbean fairytale and
a fairytale in the truest sense of the
word. It has all the magic and the
mystery, evil and gore that real, real
fairytales did. We re talking about
those like the Grimm Brothers for
There were always ogres, witches,
monsters, trolls, evil things, not like
the happily ever after, sanitised fairy-
tale we ve come to expect from Disney
for example. It is a true Caribbean
tale full of all our "Caribbeaness," full
of magic, good versus evil. There is
no happily ever after. As the Devil
says, he ll be back. There is a balance.
Who are the members of your
The title role of Ti-Jean is alternated
between Muhammed Muwakil and
Mark Nottingham. Mi Jean is played
by Nickolai Salcedo. Gros Jean is
played by Kurtis Gross. The Bolom is
being played by Tishanna Williams.
The animals are all relative newcomers
Johnston directs Ti-Jean & His Brothers
to the stage. They are all phe-
nomenal though. Ruby Parris is
the Firefly. Asha Sheppard is the
Frog. Nailah Blackman Thornhill
is the Bird and Jesus Patterson is
the Cricket. The lead character,
Devil/ Old Man/ Planter is being
played by Aaron Schneider who
also designed the set and cos-
This is a mixed group of sea-
soned actors and rookies. What
was your selection process like?
We had open auditions to
which we had a phenomenal
response. I didn t want to go with
Her name is synonymous with
theatre. She is a founding
member of the Bagasse
Company and a former
President of the National
Drama of T&T. For the past
six years, she has been
absent from the stage and
notably silent. Christine
Johnston returns to the fore,
directing Monkey Mountain's
production of Derek Walcott's
Ti-Jean and His Brothers. We
caught up with her recently
and asked a few questions on
the so called tried and
true. I wanted the chal-
lenge of a fresh, new
cast and largely it is. I m
very happy with what
we ended up with.
How challenging is it
to orchestrate this large
cast, live music and
dance elements within
this production on the
stage of the Little Carib
to orchestrate these fac-
tors in the Little Carib.
It is, however, a space
that will always hold a
Produced by Monkey
Mountain, Ti Jean and
His Brothers, by Derek
Walcott, with music by
Andre Tanker, opens at
The Little Carib
Theatre today. For
Tickets: Paper Based
Hotel, 625-3197 and
Little Carib Theatre
Box Office from May
Sponsored in part by
Christine Johnston, centre, with the cast of Ti Jean and His Brothers.
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