French arts award for Farrell
THEATRE?in Barbados got a fillip when cultural worker Winston Farrell flew to Paris last Sunday to collect an award for his production House Of Landship.
It is a narrative of how the Landship movement, in its 150th year, impacted the social and economic climate in Barbados. It was staged during the Crop Over Folk Concert and was Barbados’ contribution to CARIFESTA in Suriname this year.
House Of Landship caught the eyes of the organizers of the Sixth Caribbean Theatrical Writing Contest (Etc Caraibe) and was awarded the prize for the best non-French Script.
ETC Caribbean, is a french-based association of playwrights who seek to promote the work of Caribbean writers and those in the diaspora.
“I feel elated to have won the award but I see it not just for me but the whole movement of [the] Landship in Barbados. This is the year of celebrating that movement,” said Farrell who is also a Barbados Youth Service cultural arts officer.
“I?think the award comes at a good time for that celebration and it reinforces for me the power of the play in terms of its aesthetic value, content and appeal to both nationals and non nationals.”
Farrrel said he was interested in developing Barbadian cultural forms as expressions of theatre.
“It is a question of how we build national theatre, using cultural forms that exist in the country and how we can use the theatre to promote Barbados on an international stage.”
This recognition has come to Farrell after many years in theatre and performance.
He started drama under playwright Anthony Hinckson at the Garrison Secondary School now Graydon Sealy.
From there Farrell was introduced to The Writers’ Workshop in the 1970s which he said was a training ground for young actors.
“I had the pleasure of working alongside people like Earl Warner, Victor Clifford and Elson and did courses with the Jamaica school of drama.”
It was there that Farrell met dramatist Tom Cross who invited him to join the Eastern Caribbean Popular Theatre Organization.
“It was whilst working with them that I got involved with popular theatre.
“That journey saw me working and using theatre not only as entertainment but as a tool for social and personal development.”
Farrell’s rose to national prominence with a popular rhythm poetry piece called De Bus Man.
“I remember being involved in writing and performing from primary school. When I first wrote De Bus Man back in the late 70s, I was not too sure what I was doing.
I had never heard anyone talking and recording in that way until Clairmonte Taitt introduced me to Linton Kwesi Johnson from Jamaica. Then I realized I was not crazy and I was not doing anything new. It was something that was happening in the diaspora.”
Farrell also said he did a lot of work in what is now known as spoken word.
“The only difference is that I think I am a traditionalist in that I believe very strongly in the poem and its power. And even in the realm of ‘riddim poetry’ I draw on those tools. In terms of spoken word as a development on riddim poetry and as a label that covers expression, I think it is wonderful form; something that is very catchy and people are rallying around it.”
Although Farrell might have been out of the limelight he has been busy as a cultural officer at the Barbados Youth Service.
“I have been working in the arts for over 35 years, I am not always in the bright lights. But?I am always working in drama and theatre for personal developmet and social development. “
With the recent award for House of Landship, Barbados’ name thanks to Farrell is finding another niche in international entertainment. (JS)