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Determination pays off in collage

It takes determination -- not to mention inspiration -- to write an entire stage show in the medium of verse. By setting some of his poems to music and with the addition of dance sequences by Aprille Choudhury,

and 19.It takes determination -- not to mention inspiration -- to write an entire stage show in the medium of verse. By setting some of his poems to music and with the addition of dance sequences by Aprille Choudhury, Alan Smith succeeded, perhaps against all odds, in providing an evening that was always absorbing and, at times, moving.A cast of seven put their versatility to the test, as they declaimed and danced their way through the various recurring themes that made up this collage. These included spirituality, sexuality, violence, racism, morality, and the world of nature, all explored from his opening setting of "The Garden'' where, as with the biblical Eden, the pursuit after lost innocence began.Simply clad in leotards and the occasional billowing robe, the actors' poems intoned the theme that was then developed through a reflective dance passage, or song. The minimalist stage decor was evocatively lit by Richard Lathan.Alan Smith, who combines a resonant speaking voice with a fine stage presence, was also the lead performer. He was closely challenged, however, by the gifted Ginea Edwards, well known to local audiences for her acting and singing roles with the Jabulani Repertory Company. Although humour -- her forte -- was certainly not in evidence in this programme, she brought a welcome hint of comic relief in her rendition of the song "He's Gone'', and lyrical force to her own original poem, "The Sunset''.Although most of the cast were non-dancers, Aprille Choudury (who is, herself, a beautiful dancer who choreographs in the modern/jazz idiom) devised movement and mime that was well within their range.Choudhury, who shortly embarks on her masters degree in speech and language pathology, also brought a sense of professionalism to her spoken verse, most notably in "This Is Who I Am'' and "Ecstasy''.The most effective moments of the evening were the elegiac lament for those lost, presumably, to AIDS in the song "Time to Burn a Candle'', led by Ginea Edwards and Alan Smith and the entire section devoted to "Streets of Blood''.Choral speaking (thankfully, not too much of that, as it is hard to perform and definitely, for the audience, an acquired taste) was uneven and needed more rehearsal.Alan Smith is an intense young man whose love of the English language shimmers through every line he writes: he understands and exploits its rhythms and revels in its imagery. Presumably, this body of poetry represents several years of work and it will be interesting to see how his talent progresses.It should be noted that he also directed the collage, and designed the costumes (by Calvin Vincent).The hard-working cast also included Colin Goodwin, Eston Rawlins, Melanie Derosa and Charmaine Raynor, and the musical arrangements for Smith's original songs were superbly arranged by Wendell Simmons.Sadly, on opening night, only about 30 people turned up at the 378-seat capacity City Hall Theatre. Once more, a group of gifted and dedicated young black people have worked tirelessly in an attempt to create something of lasting worth. And as is so often the case, their efforts seem to have been ignored by the Bermuda public in general and so-called arts lovers in particular.Theatrical ventures which show this kind of potential obviously deserve better support. More importantly, though, this production underlines, yet again, the desperate need for a small theatre space where young people can train and experiment in the performing arts without incurring the punitive costs involved in renting City Hall.-- Patricia Calnan

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Published February 08, 2011 at 11:13 pm (Updated February 08, 2011 at 11:13 pm)

Determination pays off in collage

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