Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 14th 2016 Contents B38
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt February 14, 2016
A band of little bats took to the
streets for Carnival 2016, in tribute
to a master of the art form.
This year marks Edgar Whiley s
75th anniversary of playing bat mas.
The late pioneer of the traditional
mas character made his name por-
traying the creepy creature to the
hilt, complete with choreographed
movements, tweets and cries, and
of course the signature furry body-
suit, decorated wings and headpiece.
To mark the anniversary, Whiley s
son, Matthew, presented a children s
band, Colour Me Bat: a Tribute to
Edgar Whiley, the Original Bat Man.
Based at Trinidad Theatre Work-
shop on Jerningham Avenue, Bel-
mont, the band gave young partic-
ipants more than the chance to play
mas: the junior masqueraders have
also been learning how the costume
is constructed, and decorating their
own headpieces as well.
For Matthew Whiley, like his
father, bat mas is his life s passion.
And he is constantly inspired by his
father s legacy.
"My father was a national icon.
He was one of the original people
playing bat mas," he says. "I ve been
playing this mas since I was five
years old. I was the Baby Bat! I
learned all the rudiments of the mas.
My dad and I got close through play-
ing bat, and I fell in love with it as
much as him."
The senior Whiley used his mas
to spread T&T culture, performing
in New York, Canada and the
Caribbean (including Grenada, Bar-
bados and St Vincent).
Referring to his new band,
Matthew says, "This is how I keep
my father s legacy alive."
However, his little winged mas-
queraders did not appear in the cus-
tomary blacks, browns and greys of
"The dark colours can be scary
for them," Whiley says.
Instead, they were decked out in
"an array of colours," to appeal to
their spirit of fun.
They played in light spandex
bodysuits, not the furry plush usually
used, as it is cooler for their com-
They wore a moulded headpiece
and wings of voile, satin and chif-
"I am interested in the nursery;
that s where it s at," Matthew says.
"Let children be exposed to tradi-
tional forms, not just bead and bath-
Inside and outside of T&T Car-
nival, Matthew is building a legacy
of his own. He has portrayed the
character in London, Atlanta, Miami,
and New York, even participating
for several years at Halloween fes-
tivities in Greenwich Village.
"They are very receptive to what
we do. They re amazed by our tra-
He also conducts bat workshops
at schools and orphanages. "My
work is to get into these areas and
fill the gap---pass it on.
"I am grateful for having this
knowledge from my father. He was
able to perfect it. I can pass it on to
Matthew has high hopes for the
future of traditional Carnival: "The
forefront of Carnival is coming right
back to this. Look at Minshall! People
are tired of the two-piece and fries ;
they want costumes with meaning,
something with purpose."
He admits there have been a lot
of disappointments along the way,
times when funding has not been
forthcoming and he has had to sac-
rifice for his art.
"But I will continue this at all
costs. I promised my dad to keep
"At the end of the day I m bringing
joy to these children s hearts. And
it s a joy for me.
"It s the passion of my life."
A spellbinding experience
is being conjured at Hillview
College. The school s film
and photography club
launches its third annual
exhibition, titled Magic, on
February 24, from 6 pm.
Audiences can expect a dis-
play that attends to the notion
of magic in various ways,
including breathtaking vistas,
magnetic moments and
depictions of otherworldly ele-
ments. Of note, too, is the
glint of image-making magic
or budding skill that is evident
in a number of works by club
The opening night will fea-
ture a performance by the
band Dayo Bejide, which is
anticipated as an event com-
ponent that will add to an
enchanting atmosphere. A
movie night is also planned.
Short motion-picture works
by the boys will be screened
at the school from 6 pm on
February 26. The students will
have an opportunity to win
awards for their efforts in
video production and story-
The upcoming show is also
an occasion to honour past
student Johnathan Smith who
was instrumental in estab-
lishing the club. Smith is now
pursuing his tertiary education
at the University of Pennsyl-
The public is invited to view
the works on February 25 and
26, between the hours of 8
am and 5 pm, at Hillview Col-
lege auditorium, corner El
Dorado and College roads,
Baby bats come out in tribute to Whiley
Call 662-4314 or 662-4843.
Images from Hillview College's film
and photography club's third annual
exhibition titled Magic. The exhibition
opens February 24, at the school.
PHOTO: ALEXANDER ELIAS
PHOTO: TEVON THATCHER
PHOTO: IMZAN OGIR
'Magic' at Hillview
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