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‘What’s past is prologue’

Guardian Arts&Culture

Published: Sep 28, 2013

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Last night, “Shakespeare in Paradise Celebrates five years of Poster Art: 2009-2013” opened at Popopstudios International Center for the Visual Arts.

The exhibition features T-shirts and photographs from the productions over the years, including memorabilia such as posters, program booklets and show tickets.

The show is curated by Popopstudios resident artist and ceramicist Katrina Cartwright and features the work of Bahamian and Canadian artists who have designed poster images for Shakespeare in Paradise — Julia P. Ames, Lindsay Braynen, Stephen Catalano, June Collie, Rashad Ferguson, Zyandric Jones, Kachelle Knowles, Jace Mckinney, Jeffrey Meris, Jon Murray, Trevaughn Neely, Bernard Petit, Khia Poitier, Reuno Pratt, Amy Salter, Charlthorn Strachan and Matthew Wildgoose. Petit and Knowles also assisted with the organization of the exhibition.

“There has been a long tradition of poster art as a medium of promoting ideas, political or peaceful,” said Festival Director Nicolette Bethel. “In the 19th century, posters became a medium for promoting not only ideas but also theater and cabaret – by such artists as Jules Cheret and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

“Twentieth century advertising grew out of this tradition. Fine artists such as Picasso and later other artists such as Andy Warhol uplifted poster art once more to an art form. Shakespeare in Paradise is happy to present this exhibition and hopes to carry on that tradition of promoting theater through art.”

On Wednesday, October 13, a day after the festival closes, Shakespeare in Paradise will auction off all of the art in the exhibition.

The exhibition is a first-time highlight of this year’s festival, which features an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of The Shrew” as its signature Shakespeare production.

“‘Taming of the Shrew’ is one of Shakespeare's best known comedies yet it is one of his most misunderstood,” said “Shrew” Director Gordon Mills. “To most, it is the story of bad tempered, miserable young Katharina who is beaten into submission by her arrogant, abusive husband, Petruchio. However, ‘Shrew’ is actually two stories and the second, concerning Katharina's apparently sweet and submissive younger sister, is just as compelling.”

This version of “Shrew” will focus sharply on the comical and farcical elements of the play, including disguise, slapstick and trickery, without losing sight of the pivotal social issues of arranged marriages, women's place in marriage, children's duty to their parents and the importance of appearances, said Mills.

This year’s signature Bahamian production, directed by Philip A. Burrows, is “The Legend of Sammie Swain”, which has not been performed since the 1980s.

“The time is long overdue for the production to be revived and shared with new generations of Bahamians, most of whom have never heard of, much less, seen, ‘The Legend of Sammie Swain’, although many Bahamians are familiar with its most famous song, ‘When the Road Seems Rough’,” said Bethel, the daughter of the production’s writer, E. Clement Bethel.

Bethel originally wrote “Sammie Swain” as a ballet, but it was later adapted into a musical and later a folk opera, with narration and the story being danced out. It was last performed in 1985 for the Queen’s visit to The Bahamas.

Festival organizers also plan to extend last year’s “Speak the Speech” in their staging of “Speak the Speech 2: 1973-2013”, directed by Nicolette Bethel. This show will comprise speeches and correspondences that talk about the Bahamian nation from the 40 years of independence.

Finally, this year’s festival is rounded out by a one-woman show of drama and dub poetry, originating from Canada, entitled “d’bi.young anitafrika: The Sankofa Trilogy”.

Other highlights of the festival include a dub poetry/drama workshop and the annual play reading series, hosted at Chapter One bookstore.

Organizers are hoping the exhibition’s opening one week before the festival will promote more awareness of the festival and its significance in promoting young Bahamian actors/actresses, directors, playwrights, costume and stage designers and poster illustrators.


• The fifth annual Shakespeare in Paradise runs October 4-12. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/ShakespeareInParadise or twitter.com/shakesparadise; email festassist@shakespeareinparadise.org or call 677-8900 (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.).


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