Theatre lovers in Saint Lucia are about to feel the way one did in the heyday of the St. Lucia Arts Guild, back in the Sixties when plays by Derek and Roddy Walcott were regular fare at the Castries Town Hall. Theatre does not come much brighter. Local audiences can barely wait for May 3 and 4. Cometh the hour, 7.00 pm they will be in their seats at the National Cultural Centre, in eager anticipation. The ostensible movers and shakers will be there; the acolytes will be in attendance; posers will be waving at all and sundry, making sure their presence has been registered. It is going to be a “so where were you?” event.
Those in attendance will be blessed and privileged to be in the company of theatre royalty. Yes, it will be a gala all right. Not since the cast of Doctor Doolittle wandered through a performance of Walcott’s Dream on Monkey Mountain at the Castries Town Hall, with the late Sixtus Charles, climbing up Geoffrey Holder as if he were a coconut tree, have local theatre audiences been treated to such a spectacle.
And who might the prophet be? Who else but Saint Lucian born, JD Douglas, producer, director and writer. The man who brought to the UK the seminal musical Black Heroes in the Hall of Fame and JA Story – The History of Jamaica Musical.
Consider what awaits: the work of an acknowledged genius dubbed the finest writer in the English language – Sir Derek Walcott; Saint Lucia’s most celebrated international actor, arguably the most recognizable Saint Lucian face on the planet (thanks to the power of television) – Joseph ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ Marcell, and a masterpiece named Omeros, with Nobel laureate pedigree imprint to boot, all cemented by a most inventive, innovative director named Bill Buckhurst. For those still undecided I humbly point in the direction of Maeve Tynam: “Omeros can be seen as the culmination of Walcott’s life-long and continuing engagement with classic models and configuration of and for local Saint Lucian realities.”
The poet Ted Hughes said that the best way to understand poetry is to hear the writer read their work. The production of Omeros will attest to that, as talented and capable actors, with a creative director juggling the strings, bring the written words of poetry to the highest level of comprehension.
If, for some unfathomable reason, you have never heard of Omeros, or have forgotten some of what you read years ago, a (re)introduction awaits. Derek Walcott’s epic dramatized poem will be staged as a two hander: Joseph Marcell and Joan Iyiola are directed by Bill Buckhurst. The soundscape of music and sound effects are all created by Tayo Akinbode.