Professor Jeff Henry Researcher and Senior Scholar York UniversityToronto reviews Baby Doll meets Midnight Robber

Baby Doll meets Midnight Robber is a rounded production using the elements indigenous to the cultural essence of the nation so says Jeff Henryrenowned researcher of the Traditional Carnival Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar at York University in Toronto and son of the Trinidad and Tobago soil

Jeff Henry, Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar at York University in Toronto, was inspired to write about the impact of 'Baby Doll meets Midnight Robber' after seeing a school production/intervention using the play. Professor Henry, a son of the Trinidad and Tobago soil who has devoted much of his life to researching and understanding the complexities of the traditional carnival of his home, believes that this theatre presentation should be seen in more schools with a study plan attached. Following are excerpts from his comments on the play:

The performance
"I was invited to attend the presentation of a play by Ms. Eintou Springer written and produced for adolescent kids, average age 14yrs. The baby doll is a carnival character, dressed with a bonnet, in a long dress, with a wire mask. She is a black skin woman, cradling a white, blued eyed blond baby in her arms. She is in constant search for the child's father – every male she encounters, she asks 'is you he daddy?'

As the character continues to search through this mixed teen-age audience searching for and asking the males the same question, 'is you he daddy?' this generated giggles and laughter among the females and discomfort among the males. The character suddenly places the baby in the lap of an unsuspecting young man; his embarrassment was something to behold, and the auditorium erupted!

Although the baby was in the arms of the young man, the spoken words were for the young women… the silence was deafening, one can hear a pin drop, the message was received, without a lengthy sermon …

The Devil character is not only a carnival character, he is a biblical character, in any incarnation he is devilishly evil; his appearance, his demeanor, his philosophy as he delivers it, it resonates. I saw many of the girls sit back with distaste at his demeanor, as he treated Baby Doll badly, laughing and mocking her.

The Midnight Robber is the largest character in the traditional carnival pantheon, not by size, but by his sense of origin, self, integrity and power. The playwright uses the powerful image of the Midnight Robber in the carnival arena, to be avenger and defender of the innocent and vulnerable … here is a clash of good versus evil.

The playwright
Eintou Springer is a Poet; this is reflected in her script as the words spoken in the vernacular capture the musicality inherent in the language. The cast played each character as they should be played, larger than life; they never went overboard and as the play developed, sucked you into the essence of the plot.

The Intervention
I was indeed amazed by the insightful questions posed by both male and female students on the subject matter of sexual behaviour; their questions dealt with the issues and circumstances revealed in the production. I was impressed by the open discussion on sexual matters, without the usual titters of embarrassment in a mixed audience of early teens.

Baby Doll meets Midnight Robber was presented to them through characters on stage, about issues that scare them, yet they can look on and learn and ask questions and get honest answers from people they trust."

Find out more about Professor Henry at:http://www.yorku.ca/jhenry

or write him directly at profjeffhenry@sympatico.ca

Keep checking the site for the entire text of Professor Henry's review of Baby Doll and continue sending us your feedback!

 

 

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