The Legend of Sammie Swain
And there are some exciting new prospects on the horizon!
Perhaps the most exciting of them all is the fact that our parent company, Ringplay Productions, is now managing the Dundas Centre for the Performing Arts.
Those of you who are longtime supporters and followers of Shakespeare in Paradise will know that the Dundas has been our home base for the past several years. This year, following the death of the former manager, Betty Knowles, Ringplay Productions, the company that produces and underwrites Shakespeare in Paradise, has taken over the management of the theatre.
Among other things, this means more theatre year-round, not just during Shakespeare in Paradise. And it also means that there will be just plain more theatre, as Ringplay is working on developing a second theatre space. Shh.
But in the meantime, watch this blog for information about Shakespeare in Paradise, which will be anchored this year by Romeo & Juliet!!
The Shakespeare in Paradise family—indeed the whole theatre family in Nassau, if not The Bahamas, was saddened two weeks ago to learn of the death of Elizabeth “Betty” Knowles, who for the past twenty-five years was manager of the Dundas Centre for the Performing Arts.
The day after she passed, the following was posted on our Facebook Page:
On Saturday March 22, SiP’s Artistic Director, Philip A. Burrows, gave the following tribute to Betty on behalf of the theatre community:
First, in my best Betty vocabulary, I would like to say that I and Betty had a very interesting relationship over the past 33 years.
My first encounter with Betty Knowles was at the beginning of the Dundas Repertory Season, in 1981, when she was brought to the Season to work by Warren Jones. I knew that she was one of the helpers backstage but she really came to my attention when the renowned Jamaican playwright, Trevor Rhone, who was here directing his play Smile Orange, came to me after that production and said that Betty would make an excellent Stage Manager. He was quite impressed with how on the ball she was and he thought that she might have a future in some area of the theatre.
Winston Saunders and I approached Betty to run the Box Office for the Repertory Season and that is where she stayed for quite sometime. In 1985 I asked her to be my Stage Manager for a production of Sammie Swain. This was the production that took place at the then Bahama Rhythm Theatre and one of the evenings of that production was the command performance for Queen Elizabeth II. This of course was at that most historic Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. In the years to follow I would tell many stories about that production and Betty would feature prominently in them. Apart from being one of the directors of the production, I was also calling the show so I was in the booth with the lighting and sound technicians and I was communicating with Betty, who was backstage, on headset. Now sometimes in the theatre we say that the real show happens backstage and the audience never gets to see all of the drama, only the performance happening onstage.
On Thursday, February 27, 2014, our walk through modern Bahamian history, Speak the Speech 2: Speeches and Correspondence 1973-2002 will return for one night only at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.
Shakespeare in Paradise has teamed up with the National Art Gallery to offer our survey of Bahamian history since Independence as part of the ongoing programming for Kishan Munroe’s “Swan Song of the Flamingo”, an exhibition examining the sinking of the HMBS Flamingo in 1980 by Cuban fighter planes.
The gallery will open at 6 PM so that people can view the exhibition. The performance of Speak the Speech 2 will take place at 7 PM in the ballroom (Gallery One).
The evening is free of charge, but donations to help offset costs of this year’s Shakespeare in Paradise festival, planned for October 3-11 2014, will be gladly accepted.
See you there!
The last two weeks have been groundbreaking and life changing. Along with three other phenomenal women, I just completed an intensive international artist residency under the helm of international dubpoet, mono-dramatist and educator, D’bi Young Anitafrika. The residency took place in Nassau, Bahamas and combined physical wellness, meditation, spiritual grounding and self-knowledge as a foundation for creating art. This meant waking up at 5am to meditate, then do yoga, then jogging, then swimming in the ocean and then we would begin our classes for the day! I cannot begin to describe in words how important this residency was for me and how much I learned about myself and my art. What I will say is that I feel more alive than I ever have before… awake, grounded, grateful and deeply committed to the practice of self-love and, as my fellow resident artist Maryam would say, “DOING THE MOST!”
SiP 2013′s Signature Bahamian Production was a revival of E. Clement Bethel’s The Legend of Sammie Swain, directed by Philip A. Burrows. Photos below!
SiP 2013′s Signature Shakespeare Production was our version of The Taming of the Shrew, adapted and directed by Gordon Mills. Photos below!
Greetings to all our faithful supporters!
2013 was a landmark year for Shakespeare in Paradise. We celebrated our fifth annual season, and in the process pulled off what we have been trying to achieve for the past ten years–the revival of E. Clement Bethel’s Sammie Swain. We also mounted an exhibition of the artwork that we have produced over the past five festivals, and celebrated the participants in our Young Artists’ Programme, and we celebrated our fifth Shakespeare production with our version of The Taming of the Shrew. We commemorated 40 years of independence with Speak the Speech II, and we welcomed d’bi.young anitafrika, who performed her Sankofa Trilogy to appreciative audiences!
We’re working on highlights for the blog, so keep an eye on this site!
Happy new year — we wish you all the best possible wonder and joy for 2014.
As usual, Shakespeare in Paradise flies by.
This week, the festival opened in full force, with the smaller shows on display as well as our Signature Shakespeare and Signature Bahamian productions.
On Monday Speak the Speech II opened at the Bahamas Historical Society. In addition to having three public performances, the last of which is tonight, Speak the Speech II was also seen by high school history students. After each school performance was a talk-back . The students were also introduced to the Bahamas Historical Society museum.
On Monday, too, The Legend of Sammie Swain began the first of four student matinee performances. Student performances were sold out, were indeed overbooked, and “enthusiastic” does not even begin to describe the reception the students gave. “Life-affirming” comes to mind. Sammie Swain played to packed houses all week.
On Tuesday d’bi.young anitafrika presented the first part of The Sankofa Trilogy at Antonius Roberts’ Hillside House Gallery. There was standing room only in the small space as d’bi sang, danced, and performed pieces that were autobiographical in origin. d’bi also engaged in a dialogue with the audience, who responded wholly to the power and honesty of her performance.
On Wednesday night, The Shrew presented its first public performance, and was warmly received as well. Audiences laughed and applauded at the lively antics of Petruchio and Katarina, and of all of Bianca’s suitors, and Jovanna Hepburn as Lady Baptista was the star of every show.
On Thusrday night, The Shrew continued at the Dundas, and The Sankofa Trilogy continued at Hillside House.
Our final weekend lines up with Speak the Speech II‘s last performance at the Bahamas Historical Society, The Sankofa Trilogy at Nirvana Beach Resort, and Sammie Swain at the Dundas on Friday night; the last performances of our Signature Productions take place Saturday: a 2 PM matinee (sold out) for Sammie Swain and an 8 PM performance of The Shrew.
To close out the festival, Shakespeare in Paradise will be returning to Popop International Center for the Visual Arts for an auction of poster art between 1 and 4 PM this Sunday. This is your chance to own a piece of the festival!
It all flies by so fast! But it has been a wonderful fifth festival for Shakespeare in Paradise, and we have done our very best to honour and celebrate the Bahamian spirit in this our fortieth year of independence! Sign up for our mailing list, and watch this space!!
If you weren’t at the opening night of this year’s Shakespeare in Paradise, which opened with a bang with The Legend of Sammie Swain, I trust you have your season tickets in hand and you are coming out to this coming week’s performances.
Sammie Swain was a triumph, and Shakespeare in Paradise is proud to have revived it. But that’s not all we’re offering.
The Play Reading Series kicked off on Saturday at 10 AM at COB’s Chapter One with a full set of readers.
The Shrew‘s first public performance took place on Saturday at 2 PM at the Dundas, and resumes tomorrow evening at 8 PM.
Sammie Swain performs for school audiences this week Monday to Thursday at 11 AM the Dundas! If there are open seats, they will go on sale daily at 10 AM. Call 393-3728.
The main week of the festival launched last night (Monday) with Speak the Speech II at the Bahamas Historical Society. Speak the Speech II runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8 PM at the BHS, Elizabeth Avenue.
And don’t miss d’bi.young anitafrika’s The Sankofa Trilogy starting TONIGHT at Hillside House at 8 PM.
If you haven’t bought your season tickets yet for Shakespeare in Paradise 2013, move fast! Tickets are flying out the Box Office window!