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More than a festival – let’s get creative


Michael Rudder

More than a festival – let’s get creative

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WHEN I HEARD a recording of the Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley say at a church service, “Crop Over is more than a festival” it made me pause for consideration. That consideration was brought more into focus a few days after when the same Minister was leading the Christ Church “carnival” and was calling for more “carnivals”. Wow? Or, woe?

Calling for Crop Over to be more community centred while at the same time seeming to reduce that involvement to a participation in a “carnival”, to me highlights a poverty of creative thought.  In addition, our carnival parades seem more designed to produce graduates in “wuckupology” (my spelling, please) while exposing participants and indeed spectators to heat stroke.

Skimpy costumes are probably more appropriate as pre-Lenten events as it is, generally, a cooler time of the year in most places. In the last decade the years have become hotter whilst costume cover has gotten less. Masqueraders are caught between the oil and the sweat. By that I mean that sun screen may be oily and or water-resistant designed to reduce the impact of the UV rays, but the body has to sweat to keep cool and oil or other chemicals may clog the pores.

Our parades, at the hottest time of the day and the year, are a challenge. If for no other reason, revellers must think about the damage to the body during the several hours of exposure to the sun. I am not proposing abandoning the show but I also note that two long-term exposures – “carnival” and Crop Over increase the risk of damage to the body.

The Crop Over concept is, to some extent, interwoven with the ever present “Mr Harding” who lurks. Here’s a thought; identify three or four venues around the island where events take place, invite people for the appropriate catchment area which may be parishes, to come and share, for instance, in the first year a concept such as Mister Harding Won’t Die.

Imagine, out of the “focus groups” there came four genres – drama, dance and mime, comedy and music treatments. In one year drama and comedy could be stage performances, in the next year video and the third year film. As for music, the treatments could range from opera in one year, jazz the next and contemporary the third. Dance and mime could be a part of the other three or be separate. Nothing says that the order has to be as suggested in each case. Indeed, solo acts may emerge.

Also excerpts from each could be used during the calypso shows.

Then there is visual art shows in schools – not a challenge to NIFCA – also flower and root crop gardening in communities, flowering plants and shrubs in show windows and balconies of shops and stores, and so on.

I am sure that as you read this many more ideas will come to mind. Crop Over is a festival of many parts, collectively making a whole. Let’s dance.

Michael Rudder

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