Patricia’s youth theatre holds first show
It’s been some 40 years in gestation and has overcome many difficulties but it’s now definitely here.
Bermuda finally has its own 100 per cent home-grown community youth theatre movement.
Dreamt up and nurtured by Patricia Pogson-Nesbitt, supported by a core of community leaders, parents and families, performed by professional as well as first-time actors, last week’s show was an exposition and a celebration of their collective talent. It also addressed central, existential anxieties of every teen and tween who lives on planet Earth: will I be a social failure? Am I attractive? Will I ever be happy?
Written by teenager Kisaye Bell and directed by Ms Pogson-Nesbitt, Through Shira’s Door’s central character Khaija (played by Rhielle Ming as a child and the author as a teen) is a target of cruel bullying at school because of the colour of her skin.
She goes on a journey of despair and hopelessness, through a virtual shift in space/time, to a place where she is loved unconditionally and has restored self-confidence. The transformation is engendered via a nurturing, magical fairy godmother-like figure named Shira (played by Kisaye’s twin sister, Kesae) who lovingly combs her hair and leads her into a utopia free from social judgment and racial prejudice where everyone is loved for their own individuality.
The interlude in this magical land was supported by a fine performance by ten-year-old Rylee Lightbourne of the inspirational song she released in 2022, Stand Tall.
While the plot may have been a simple Cinderella tale, the stops on the way were punctuated with a series of well-executed and thoroughly disciplined dances, expertly choreographed by Dezjuan Thomas with music directed by Candace Furbert.
The dancers themselves made major use of arm gesture, which became a fluid series of variations on themes suggesting work, worship and community. Grouping and blocking of the corps of 13 dancers were an essential part of the experience.
The music was a well-turned blend of distinctive African djembe and other percussion drumming with variations of multiple upbeats on the lead-ins. It’s interesting to note that, according to the Bambara people of Mali, the name of the djembe drum comes from the saying “anke dje, anke be” which translates as “everyone gather together in peace”. And that is what happened at the end of Through Shira’s Door.
The finale was provided by the FMC Gombeys, a group of youthful dancers with two superb and equally youthful drummers who proved themselves masters of every possible bass and snare combination – rimshot, military roll, riff and variation over a tireless and rock steady beat to end the show. A quote from the late pioneer and mother of community theatre, Joan Littlewood, sums up the evening: “Good theatre draws the energies out of the place where it is and gives it back as joie de vivre.”
Through Shira’s Door was performed by the Noire Youth Theatre Company on July 28 and 29 at the Earl Cameron Theatre