The play Canboulay written by Eintou Pearl Springer will make its debut at the prestigious Queens Hall venue this weekend in a production mounted by the award winning Malick Folk Perfoming Company. The play documents the riots of the 1880's in Trinidad and Tobago which resulted in the Carnival Festival remaining an important celebration of the people of this country. The drama in the play unfolds through the eyes of the main character, stick fighter, Leroi.
Canboulay copped major awards at the recently held Best Village competition, winning Best Overall Production, and for the past four years has been performed every Carnival Friday at 5am to large crowds in front of the All Stars Panyard in Port of Spain, the original site of the Riots.
Following is the text of Eintou's message for the Queens Hall performance:
"My play Canboulay pays tribute to our warrior ancestors of The Mas and brings their achievements to the attention of the entire society. The Carnival that we now take for granted was fought for by the former enslaved of the barrack yards, not only in Port of Spain but also in the East and South of the island. The riots of 1881 in Port of Spain were however the most significant.
In the light of a school curriculum that is largely irrelevant to the selfhood of our African youth; in the light of the bombardment of all our youth with alien images and cultures, Canboulay says to our young people that you have much to claim and you have much of which you can be proud!
Canboulay reminds us that the African created a great deal despite enslavement. In the gayelle of existence, those ancestors fought inch by contested inch to clear a space for the manifestations of their culture; those manifestations whether remembered or forged in the crucible of the environment to which they had been forcibly transported.
Let us remember, as we face renewed assaults on The Mas in the form of bikini and beads and the growing trend towards the importation of costumes, that there is much to defend. Cultural resistance should not be a phenomenon of the past.
The play reminds us that theatre and the arts have a seminal role to play in rekindling ancestral memory and creating the positive self-image necessary both to deal with the now and to prepare ourselves for the challenges of the future.
I have dedicated this play to the pioneering work and research of Dr. Hollis Liverpool, the Mighty Chalkdust. It is just one of the offerings of my lifelong commitment to promoting and protecting the culture of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. My work now finds its expression in my family company Idakeda Group Ltd.
I hope that this production will stimulate the interest of the powers that be to making Canboulay available to our youth throughout Trinidad and Tobago.
My congratulations to Louis Mc. Williams and the Malick Folk Performing Company. May our warrior ancestors bless this production that was written and is being mounted in their honour".
Eintou Pearl Springer, Poet Laureate of Port of Spain