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Eight by Ten - Diverse and Delightful Theatre

Julene Robinson in 'Me and My White Boy' directed by Nadan Rawlins

Apparently I’m very greedy. So when Eight by Ten 2013 ended, rather than being satisfied at having been served up a wonderful night of diverse theatre, I wanted more. It was a night bouyed by great writing, acting and direction and bite size pieces of daring, diverse, delightful theatre.

Presented by the Philip Sherlock Centre of the Creative Arts, Eight By Ten got the 2013 staging of the Phillip Sherlock International Arts Festival off to a roaring start on Tuesday, February 19, 2013.

(front) Shanique Brown and Martin Thame (back) in Forever Blue directed by Michael DaleyEight by Ten is a collection of eight short plays, each approximately ten minutes in length and which ranged from the thought provoking to the delightful, with several pieces managing to do both. A min-drama festival in itself, Eight by Ten was originally staged as a part of the Kingston On The Edge festival and has fostered experimentation and diversity in its offerings.

On the night of generally sparkling theatre, Nadean Rawlin’s take on ‘Me And My White Boy’, an excerpt from Karl Williams’ The Black That I Am, shone particularly bright. ‘Me and My White Boy’ is a wonderfully written, witty monologue that explores contemporary black femininity. Julene Robinson delivered a superb, well-textured performance and Rawlin’s choice of naturalist direction which saw the protagonist talking to the audience while she readied herself for a night out made the performance even more intriguing.

Shanique Brown sizzled in Fabian Thomas’ direction of ‘The Prayer’ by Patricia Smith. The dramatic reading of Smith’s letter to John Coltrane was even better than its staging a few months ago in Word Soul: The Redbones Edition. Brown Hilary Nicholson in Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf, directed by Paul Issais a great budding actress and her dramatic skills are equally matched by her smooth vocals and the piece required both. Cameal Davis strong vocals also enhanced the piece.

The evening had opened with another excerpt from Word Soul as Akeem Mignott dramatized Lorna Goodison’s ‘For Don Drummond’ and Mervyn Morris’ ‘Valley Prince’ both of which explore the schizophrenia that gripped on of Jamaica’s foremost Ska musicians, Don Drummond.

The majority of the pieces dealt with relationships as did the witty Can You Still Hear Me? You’re Breaking Up.... written and directed by Joan Belfon. Forever Blue, directed by Michael Daley, gave a witty twist on the complications of an unexpected pregnancy. However, in this case the gender roles were reversed as it is the man who becomes pregnant. Jean-Paul Menou directed Field Day, while Pierre Lemaire presented Apologies performed by Fae Ellington and Alywn Scott.

Hilary Nicholson also gave one of the night’s more engaging performances in the excerpt of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf. The excerpt was directed in by Paul Issa who, along with Kieran King, completed the cast.

Don Nigro’s Come Into The Garden Maud, directed by Brian Heap brought the eveninJean-Paul Menou in Come Into the Garden Maud directed by Brian Heapg to a fantastic close. The play featured Jean-Paul Menou, Patria-Kaye Aarons and Zahara Warner who all delivered great performances. It was riotous up to its disturbing close.
Eight by Ten was originally staged as a part of the Kingston On The Edge festival. The Philip Sherlock International Arts Festival continues with the 2013 season of the UWI Pop Society, the Annual Philip Sherlock Lecture (to be delivered by Kei Miller) and Dance Umbrella 2013. Indeed, this year Dance Umbrella is sharing its diverse moves with two festivals as it will also partner with the Kingston Book Festival 2013 to stage ‘Dance Dialogues’ on Sunday March 3, 2013.