Brave choice of subject
Reluctantly taking the microphone from tutor Yvonne Weekes during a question and answer segment, young actress Amina Best admitted her role in Love: Is The Province Of The Brave made her “uncomfortable”.
The otherwise demure-voiced Christian embodied Keisha, a street-tough butch lesbian conductor, who was in a live-in relationship with stripper Nicole (played by Nadia Holmes).
It was a part Best all but flat-out refused and wrestled with, she continued, until she was able to remove her “tunnel vision” – without compromising her values.
Ironically, Best’s issue with Keisha was shared with many audience members gathered in Frank Collymore Hall during last Saturday evening’s premier showing of the play. It was staged by the theatre arts students at the Barbados Community College for the annual Fine Arts Portfolio.
Love: Is The Province Of The Brave spared no imagery and very little of its profanity – it was gritty, sexual, in-your-face and presented a working class reality which could leave pearl-wearing Protestants making the sign of the cross. The rawness of the story was aided by the set design, which created an almost dirty re-imagination of the River Van bus stand.
The play told the story of a family on the socio-economic fringe, headed by sno-cone seller Desmond (Angelo Lascelles) who has to support an unemployed wife and two children with some assistance from his wife’s mother.
Concerned about his son Daniel’s (Du-Wayne Hinds) shyness and lack of masculinity, Desmond takes him to a strip club to celebrate his 18th birthday.
A defining scene in the play, this was the audience’s main introduction to the not suitable for work (or publication) images and language to follow, especially from Holmes’ character, who often appeared on stage in lingerie or changing for the night shift at the strip club. As previously stated, a lesbian relationship was depicted, complete with its moments of tenderness and bouts of anger.
Meantime, Daniel finds his manhood through a crush on Nicole, initiated via another chance meeting and her subsequent job at a nearby supermarket.
Also mixed into the Mark Jason Welch-written play were topics of child sexual abuse, the effects of the deteriorating Barbadian economy, alcoholism and the power and role of Christianity on the island, among others.
Also during the question and answer section, Weekes acknowledged criticism of the play was expected – and she was correct. It is also useful to note that the audience laughed through scenes of violence and abuse as though it was slapstick comedy.
Whether it is merited or not is a discussion for the learned thespians – however, the talent on stage could be seen by the untrained eye. And in spite of (or perhaps because of) all of the profanity and realness, Love: Is The Province Of The Brave struck a rude blow of awakening to the lives of Barbadians in a way that will not be easily forgotten.
“A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.” – Gandhi