The set and the cast. Illustration for the program by Toni Rose and Edwin Erminy.
The Academy for the Performing Arts hopes to establish the tradition of doing Caribbean works. We opened our 2014-2015 Repertory Season with a classical Trinidadian play: "The Rose Slip" by Douglas Archibald.
Derek Walcott described "The Rose Slip" aptly saying "the play itself is a modest, truthful poetic record of Trinidad life". The play is set in a Port of Spain barrack yard, the comunal housing of the poorest people in the island, in 1950. It reflects the extreme hardships the common people confronted but also the values and ideas that formed the identity of the nation at that moment.
The design, created in collaboration with student Daniella Walcott, uses the basic materials and textures of the barrack yard, dirt, galvanised metal and old wood, to evoque the raw poverty of the place. The space, however, tries to reflect the dignity of individuals and families in the detail of each of their minute houses. A lot of attention was paid to props that would reflect this idea. Adam Gibson acted as prop manager in charge of this operation. He was also the assistant stage manager.
The layout of the set strives to express the complexity of relationships within the yard. The lack of depth on the stage at the Central Bank Auditorium was a challenge. We placed the houses at different angles and levels to exaggerate the perspective, and used the side stairs as exits into what could have been the hills of the city close to the yard. The layout gave the actors multiple opportunities for entrances and exits.
The very high walls surrounding the set were intended to emphasise the idea of an enclosed, protected space hidden behind the facades of the visible city.
Barrack yards no longer exist. They disappeared in the 1960s. We found old photographs and paintings at the National Museum in Port of Spain which were useful as references.
Walking the streets of the city we found examples of the architecture of the time, its colours and textures. Some places still have the look and feel of the old barrack yards.
|Images from Adam Gibson´s research for props.|
The Rose Slip is the first project we build at our recently opened scenic shop at the Creative Campus of the University of Trinidad and Tobago, a space we owe in large part to the persistence and enthusiasm of professor Richard Bryant.
In only ten days our team of 6 first year students, professor Bryant and I, managed to build and paint the set (basically flats and platforms) in our spare time. Some of the wood and all the galvanised metal, doors and windows were recycled. Wood stain and paint added to the distressed wood effect of the walls. The floor is linoleum treated with sawdust, glue and paint to give the colour and texture of dirt. The breadfruit tree was created by assistant set designer José Jimenez and the crew.
|José Jimenez and his team building the breadfruit tree.|
|Raymer Díaz joined our scenic team.|
Student Carver Perry, acted as crew chief in charge of assembling and dismounting the set at the Central Bank Auditorium, a stage with quite a few technical limitations. Our enthusiastic crew members were first year students Ariel Thomas, Jesus Patterson, Narad Mahabir, Kenelle Alphonse, Darrielle Mylan-Charles and Lizanne Regis.
Adam Gibson laying out props.