Theatre is back with a bang and Alwin Bully would be all smiles to know that just five months after his journey to the great beyond that a group of young people could have thrilled an audience with the Nite-Box forty-six years after its debut at the St. Gerards Hall by the People’s Action Theatre.
Curtis Clarendon as director and Gloria Septra Augustus of LA Cour Des Arte de la Dominique did an excellent job in assembling the most appropriate actors to play the various roles in the play. The cast of seven did justice to their respective roles to the extent that the audience could be heard identifying themselves with the various characters. Led, played by Chad Zamore, captivated the audience throughout the play and Stacia, played by Marja “Lady Star” Stedman, was sensational.
All the other characters Paps (Gael “King Trilla G” Jno. Baptiste), Nimrod (Yanson Hilaire/Jonathan Theophile), Mrs. Gloudon (Leyona John), June (Adela David) and Claude (Kerwin Jorvan Jno. Baptiste) held their roles convincingly, though there were some moments where they lost some punchlines, and the use of the stage could be improved.
Ironically, one of the subjects of the play was the heroism of the Secretary General of the Civil Service Association who was championing the cause of the workers at that historical moment. In the front row was His Excellency President Charles Savarin and his wife. Some of the issues the play addressed 46 years ago are still relevant today and it would be interesting to know what the former big wig of the CSA, now DPSU, thinks of the situation in Dominica then and now.
Nite-Box epitomizes the genius of Alwin Bully who at the tender age of 29 could have created such a masterpiece of intertwining politics, humour, tragedy, social commentary, and real entertainment in a single piece of artistic expression. Michael Bruney who was just 21 at the time and having directed the play to perfection also demonstrated how advanced the Dominican youth was and the level of consciousness which existed in the 70s. Dominica was undoubtedly leading the Eastern Caribbean in theatre.
It is unfortunate that such a masterpiece of a production is staged in a makeshift auditorium without the basic facilities. It is reasonable to conclude that if the group can pull through such a top-quality production under these conditions, one can very well imagine what could happen if the Arawak House of Culture was available.Nite Box is one of the Who Done It thrillers that people cannot tell others about, you must go and see it. Suffice to say that Mikey and Alwin would maybe have inserted a note of caution that “All events referred to in this production relates to 1977 and any semblance of prevailing conditions is strictly coincidental”, which would give some cover to the saying “More things change more they remain the same”.
I had the privilege of being a member of the original cast and went on to perform the play in close to fifty performances all over the Caribbean. I also directed the play with a Caribbean audience in Cuba. La Cours Des Arte has succeeded in presenting the Dominican population with an excellent production to which every person should give an audience.
With this level of performance and talent displayed in the Nite Box it is impossible to imagine that the cast and producers would stop here, and it is for this reason that I am convinced that Theatre is back and all that is needed is a home in the Arawak House of Culture.
It is ridiculous that in 2023 a primary school hall without any basic facilities for theatre is the best Dominica has to offer amid all the extravagant spending on all types of Sewo. Einstar LeBlanc, one of Alwin’s lighting specialists of the 1970s, is also back and did a wonderful job with the lighting effects.
The Alwin Bully Foundation Inc. must grab the opportunity and adopt LA Cour Des Arte in a great partnership to successfully accomplish the goals of the legacy of the late great Alwin Bully. Kudos to all who made the production possible.
Look out Dominica, Theatre is Back.
We Dare You To Enter The Nite Box.