Sunday, April 21, 2024

Gabby’s work for theatre stage


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ONE OF THE THEATRE ARTS tutors at the University of the West Indies’ Cave Hill Campus has big plans for theatre and the work of calypsonian and folk singer, Gabby.

Kellie Cadogan, who directed and produced the recent staging of Windforce, a revue of some of Gabby’s more popular songs, said she believed the production was one that could travel.

The revue, which was a type of multi-act popular theatrical presentation featuring music, dance and sketches, was part of the theatre course structure at the campus, but which usually feature music from North America, where the form is more easily identifiable.

She told Weekend Buzz after the performance at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination that she wanted to do something different this year to bring it back to the Caribbean and decided to start with something a little closer to home.

The show itself featured seven students who performed songs like Emmerton, Hit It and Jack with accompaniment on piano. In most cases, they used drama to flesh out their interpretation of the song.

“In terms of resources, first of all you need to have the finances to do it. You need to have the right people on board; right now these are students – so having even more people come in to make the cast bigger, to solidify some more. The nature of it is in narration form, but I think it can grow a whole lot more and having an actual set would actually work.

Yannick Hooper’s interprepation of the calypso classic Hit It. 


“But it is a matter of actually being able to focus in some more in terms of what the concept would be with the concept of Gabby’s music which I think is a start.

“Things like this do take time, but getting the right people on board, being able to select the right people for me . . . is important. I don’t necessarily need people with titles, but people with heart who understand the vision,” she said, adding that she had a “phenomenal time” working with musician Stefan Walcott.

Gabby, who was present as the night’s honoree, praised the production and the use of his music so prominently. He told Weekend Buzz he really liked what he had seen and endorsed the efforts.

Cadogan said, “I believe we can take this beyond Barbados. People talk about having the powers that be on board and that is fine, but I think it is important that . . . the vision is extremely clear and we are building and developing our culture from this type of perspective of Barbados.”

When she wrote it, the lecturer said with her background in production, she designed it as a tourism product and this was an opportunity to take her concept to work with and develop students.

Acknowledging that there was a diverse selection of music and genres throughout the region that she could have used, Cadogan said she thought Bajans needed to experience it first “at home” before it could move further.

“The reason I selected the piano is because this is an exam as well and in many ways the piano has a tendency to do so many things.

“Initially I wanted a rhythm section but we have limitations – only seven students etc. – so we had to be mindful of that. I wanted also to subtract people’s minds from the expected . . . .

“I wanted to strip it naked and show the beauty of his music with just one instrument and if we can do this with just one instrument, with the right direction, the right people, it can go even further,” she added. (Green Bananas Media)



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