Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 27th 2013 Contents B2
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, November 27, 2013
yet escape, whereas the rituals are the fantasies
through which they hope to create a new reality, a
new Caribbean woman and hence a new Caribbean
Constance taught at Fyzabad Secondary School
for 36 years before he retired last September. He was
the founder of the school s drama group and instru-
mental in the founding of the drama festival, which
will celebrate its 50th year in 2014. The Ritual has
been performed 19 times at the Secondary Schools
Drama Festival and countless productions have been
put on by theatre companies regionally and inter-
nationally---most without Constance s knowledge.
Last year, a group in London wrote a musical based
on the play and Constance found out by a chance
Google search. The play is now also part of the cur-
riculum for first year theatre students at the University
of the West Indies as well as CXC students studying
The association presented the original cast---Isidora
Johnson, Leverne Wharton, Madlyn St Cyr, Denise
Thompson-Bristow and Andrea Cato-Robinson---
with lifetime achievement awards. All women attended
the event except Johnson, who now lives in the US.
Noted on the trophies presented to the original cast
was a poignant quote from the play: "You and you
and you. All a we. All woman who ever love before
or get love, or skip school or storm taxi or cuss teacher
or screw after party, all is Omega. And all a we who
carry the guilt of a girl who get pregnant but didn t
want to get pregnant."
The trials faced by the characters in the play can
be paralleled to those faced by Constance and the
actresses in performing the play. Constance said that
he and the cast rehearsed in secret for two months
before the play was performed at the 1978 festival.
There were two reasons for the secrecy: Constance
wanted to surprise audiences with the technique
used in the production and he was also unsupported
by the school s administration in his work with drama.
When The Ritual became a finalist in the festival,
however, it was videotaped for the now defunct T&T
Television (TTT) and aired in 1979. An excerpt from
the taped version was played at the start of Friday s
programme. Unfortunately, the entire play was never
Constance said viewers called in complaining about
the use of language like "a--" and the adult content
of the play, which was immediately cut by TTT with-
out any explanation and never aired again. During
preparation for the festival, Constance had to pay
out of his own pocket for costumes, transportation
and other necessities for the cast.
Still, he and others lauded the play s longevity.
"The Ritual has survived and it will continue to
survive as long as children are still getting pregnant
at 16," Constance lamented. He also said there con-
tinues to be a lack of support and interest in drama,
particularly the drama festival, from school admin-
istrators and principals.
However, the cast members agreed that there were
many life lessons to be learned from theatre. Thomp-
son-Bristow said working with Constance afforded
her the first opportunity to travel outside of T&T.
"He stood up for us and we used drama to move on
and get ahead in life," said Thompson-Bristow.
Wharton said they learned about much more than
theatre. "It wasn t just drama. He made sure we went
to class, made sure we behaved at school and at
home. Zeno was the type of teacher who would buy
lunch for students who came to school hungry. When
we were doing this play we didn t have any support
from school. Zeno did it on his own. It took tenacity
on our part and Zeno s."
Andrea Cato-Robinson, centre, reprises her role in the play, The Ritual, on Friday
at the Naparima Bowl. Sitting is Denise Thompson-Bristow, right, and Madlyn St
Cyr, left. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
Constance is a playwright, author and
basketball official. His books include a biography
of calypso icon Brother Valentino (Poet &
Prophet 1984), and Tassa, Chutney & Soca 1991
which outlines the East Indian contribution to
calypso. He has also published a collection of 14
of his plays in two volumes called Sheer Genius in
1994. His most recent book, The Man behind The
Music: Emrold "Brother Valentino" Phillip, was
published in 2011.
ABOUT ZENO OBI CONSTANCE
Idea for play born out of
teen pregnancy issues
Continued from Page B1
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