1768: A Theatric Reimagining of St. Patrick’s Day 250 Years Ago
“Expect nothing,” was the mantra of Chadd Cumberbatch, the playwright of 1768 whenever he was asked what audiences could expect in his latest production.
This turned out to be great advice as audiences got Cumberbatch’s spin on the events which led up to the attempted rebellion of March 17, 1768.
Recovered documents have so far only told the story via the voices of slave masters and the whites who ran the island. However, on the nights of March 14 and 15, 2018, attendees got to hear a different version as told through the eyes of Guinness, played by UK-based actor Stedroy Cabey.
The story begins in Africa where we meet US-based actor Dionne Audain as she tell us the story of the people and their beliefs. We soon see young African men and women captured and thrown unto a ship and taken to the New World.
We also meet Annette, played by Anne Smeulders, who is an Irish seamstress arrested for stealing from three very “pious” Christian women played by the incomparable Ann-Marie Dewar, Beth Breuer and Lorraine Lewis. You can be assured that when you see one of these women listed in a Cumberbatch cast there will be laughs. So imagine the joy of having all three in the same production. Needless to say, they did not disappoint and their witty rhymes declaring to “To Your Honour, Your Worship, Your Lordship”,Â played by Kenneth “Rabo” Silcott were hilarious.
Annette, the seamstress ends up in a pickle as stealing is punishable by death, however Costa a leprechaun, played by newcomer Sandrae Thomas makes an offer she dared not refuse. Since pregnant women avoid death, Costa offers to make sure she gets a trip to the Caribbean as her punishment.
It is clear in the hierarchy of things that Annette, although a criminal, and as we come to learn also a drunk, has a higher position than the slaves because she is white. She also has a particular affection for Phillip the slave, played by Ian Gerald. Gerald has now appeared in two of Cumberbatch’s plays and is quite believable as the reluctant bed partner for the thief.
The Master played by Denzil West also has a thing for the slaves. In particular he regular calls for favours from Cassie, played by Jamillia Greenaway. This of course causes much frustration for the female slaves as well as the men, who are tired of being subservient and also the constant taking away of their small privileges, such as gathering for fellowship on the weekend, playing drums and celebrating their own rituals.
Vickie Locker plays Petty, a slave who does not want to be left out of the plans by her male counterparts. She reminds Samson played by Darion Darroux, that she as well as the other women pay a price the men will never pay.
The plan is hatched to attack the slave owners although all of the cutlasses and other sharp objects had been taken from them. Unfortunately while sharing the details, Annette who had clearly fallen asleep beneath a house wakes up and overhears them. She quickly tells the Master and by the time the men attack, they are met with deadly force.
Other performers in 1768 were Delbert Williams, Nia Golden, Richard Smith, Delon Searles, Clinton Lewis Jr., Calvin Lewis, Amelia Daley, and Chaquille Sam.
Providing moving drum rhythms throughout the almost two-hour play were Teresina Bodkin, William “Willy Kinny” O’Garro and McCloyd White.
The production also featured original music by Kenneth “Rabo” Silcott – Fight and Slave Ship by Chadd Cumberbatch.
1768 was a production by the Silk Cotton Theatre Company for the Montserrat Arts Council.
Enjoy a few of the images from the production. For more photos visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DiscoverMNI .