DREAM TEAM: The night's best pieces had energy, drama and lots of spark.
ACCORDING to emcee Joan Andrea Hutchinson, over 12,000 entries were submitted for the speech competition alone in the 2017 JCDC National Festival of the Performing Arts. Last week’s Speechfest whittled that number down to the cream-of-the-crop entries (close to 20) showcased before a sizeable and appreciative crowd at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre in Kingston.
School-age performers, hailing from institutions across the island, shone as they delivered solo and group pieces with conviction and no shortage of gold-medal gusto.
Innovation and spark is what you thought of as a male trio from Excelsior High gave a clever interpretation of “The Lord’s Prayer,” in addition to a piece entitled “Black and White.” An all-female ensemble from Little London Primary paid resounding homage to global she-roes (among them Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and our very own Nanny of the Maroons) with “Nanny Strong.”
While a troupe representing Claude McKay High preached an “abstinence makes sense” message with “Sex Can Wait,” a Clan Carthy High posse had everyone in stitches with “Science Again.” Sparks Academy of the Arts raised the show’s temperature with the hard-hitting “Pastor Ah Play Rompin’ Shop”, ahead of the big climax that came with Tacius Golding High’s gripping excerpt from “Blood.”
Five-year-old sensation Courtney Greaves (St. Joseph’s) was the pick of the solo performers, bringing real poise and pizzazz to her rendition of the poem “Hey, Black Child.” Claude McKay’s storytelling prodigy Romario Thomas showed commendable promise as a raconteur as he delivered the colourful tale of “Anansi and Cockroach.” The mystery of Who Stole the Bullybeef Sandwich and Beverage? played out as Alicia Curtis (as a disgruntled classroom teacher) asked “Weh Mi Lunch?”
Ashley Gray also scored with her brand of “Excitement,” while Holland Primary’s Danté Johnson moved even the toughest cynics with the teary lament “Daddy Why?”
Speechfest 2017 formed part of a Best of Festival series, put on by the JCDC, that shone the spotlight on the year’s most outstanding gold medal awardees. Dramafest, Dancefest, Traditional Folk Forms and Musicfest completed the series.