Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 12th 2014 Contents B6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, June 12, 2014
On Saturday night I saw one of
the best things you ll see in Trinidad
all year. It s a great pity that only a
handful of other people saw it too.
Theatre, unless there s a big name
involved---a Walcott, Salazar or Choo
Kong for example---is not a big pull
it seems. It was disheartening to see
a handful of people amongst rows of
empty seats at the Little Carib theatre
for Brenda Hughes production of
Ronald Amoroso s play Sangre Grande
One hopes Hughes is not disheart-
ened by people s shortsightedness and
unwillingness to support the arts.
Most, it seems, prefer to save their
money for two months of the year so
they can splurge it on all-inclusive
fetes at $500--$1,000 a pop. The rest
of the year, people in the arts work
hard to keep the scene alive, even
though it s clearly for the benefit of
a small band of committed patrons.
The $200 ticket for this play would
have left the feters spiritually and
philosophically richer for their money.
As we entered we could see the
stage brilliantly stylised and detailed
like a living room in a Barataria house
in 1986, right down to the patterned
sofa cushions with a print of what
looked like Mille Fleurs, the glass-
fronted cabinet and other furnishings.
It was what the 80s looked like,
kitsch and a bit tacky, while at the
same time signalling a slight return
to the traditionalist aesthetic of the
1950s and away from the gaudiness
of 1970s design.
"How many people are in?" I asked
the usher, alarmed as stage time was
five minutes away.
"Just around 30," she replied.
Little Carib seats a couple of hun-
In the dressing room afterwards,
while the small cast celebrated their
undeniable achievement, they were
also disappointed at the low turnout.
Hughes told me the previous weekend
had been the same. What a pity, for
a six-night run.
Trinis should have seen this play
for a number of reasons. It speaks to
issues still affecting society 30 years
after it was written. Issues common
It s about a family with problems.
An unmarried couple approaching
middle age, one of whom has a daugh-
ter from a previous marriage. A phi-
landering and abusive husband who
works all day as a taxi driver and cares
most about his car, his masculine rep-
utation and his White Oak rum. A
put-upon but loyal and caring wife
who can t envisage an escape. A sen-
sitive, clever son desperate for a schol-
arship to get him away from the hum-
drum life he s been raised in.
That was the most important and
challenging element, one that spoke
universally, not just to Trinidadians,
about the environment in which chil-
dren are raised.
Many people in my life are clever
people who came from families that
had no concept of nurturing, school-
ing, encouraging and instilling ambi-
tion to produce their utmost, aca-
demically and otherwise.
In the play, the boy s father (played
brilliantly by Errol Roberts) cares about
his son s scholarship only in the sense
that he sees it as his retirement plan,
not enough to engage the son in his
studies or even drive him to his exams
in the taxi.
My mother grew up in Yorkshire in
the 1960s with parents whose empha-
sis was on running a pub, not on edu-
cation. They never knew she regularly
skipped school. That she later obtained
her degree at one of England s finest
universities had nothing to do with
the parenting she received.
It would be harsh to blame my
grandmother. Growing up during the
war, there were weeks on end when
schools weren t even open---a teenag-
er s paradise.
The seriousness with which my
mother approached the education of
us (her children) must have been born
of her experience. But too many repeat
the cycle. Even if a parent isn t aca-
demically or intellectually gifted, edu-
cation and a nurturing environment
should not be absent.
In the Guardian office, every after-
noon reporters kids come in after
school, doing homework at desks,
having conversations with staff they
will remember in years to come, like
VS Naipaul whose father Seepersad
Naipaul worked at the Guardian and
brought his son to work.
Not all parents have the opportunity
of giving their kids access to a cerebral
environment to learn about life, but
all can encourage other types of valu-
able extracurricular activity.
To parents who aren t prepared to
provide the basic building blocks, I
ask: what s the point having children?
On Friday night I saw the X-Men
film at a packed MovieTowne. When
the lights went up we were stunned
to see a father with three small chil-
dren. The youngest, maybe five, had
fallen asleep and had to be carried
out. The film was violent and it was
after 11 pm.
There were no children in the audi-
ence at Sangre Grande By Two.
The perceived value of culture,
where mass entertainment wins and
fringe fails, still sadly prevails.
seen by too few
Even if a parent isn't
academically or intellectually
gifted, education and a
should not be absent.
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