By Shaun Hutchinson
Since the Covid-19 lockdown began in March artists and creatives have found innovative ways to perform and share their work through on-line concerts, with Instagram Your Story broadcasts, Verzuz Instagram battles, and using Facebook Live and other web-based interaction. Theatres and museums have broadcast acclaimed productions and interactive exhibitions featuring their most popular shows. Fans get a glimpse of their favourite performers and an insight into artistes’ world. Their audience now expects it and both parties thrive on the interaction.
As the government shifts gears, moving through successive phases of the country’s reopening Tobago’s literary community have not been sleeping during the period of hibernation. With beaches, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues tentatively emerging from the closures last weekend live and direct from New Lens Studio in Scarborough the Tobago Writers Guild presented their virtual concert – Stepping Out of Covid-19.
If online stats are an indicator then the live streamed event on the Guild’s YouTube channel and via the Touch Tobago Live Facebook page was a success. A delayed start to the groundbreaking transmission of prerecorded performances did not, it seems, deter the eventual 1200 plus viewers.
And when the live broadcast began, compered in real time by author and TV personality Deborah Moore-Miggins and Leroy George – TWG Founding Member and Public Relations Officer respectively – the New Lens sponsored event showcased the best features of the Guild’s two most popular annual productions – the Literary Affair and Reading Fest.
The studio’s intimate semicircular stage – adorned with a TWG logo designed and constructed by family trio of Guild founding member and published author Milca Robinson-Reid, and the Reid brothers Kyle and Kyron – was spacious enough to hold the broad range of performers.
Many Literary Genres
The two hour production – coordinated by Mrs Robinson-Reid – offered viewers several literary genres as well as steel pan and dance. Monologues, songs and poetry followed as the audience watched calypso, intelligent hip hop-soul, romantic reggae and other styles performed with eloquent recitation, vocal skill and confidence.
Subjects covered by these veteran and emerging writers and performers were wide ranging. Their lyrical and poetic eyes focused on topical and historic events, human relationships, social and cultural issues as well as African history, the Black Lives Matter protests, and of course Covid-19. All received creative treatment.
The production received praise from many on-line; and after the event Guild Vice President and extempo calypsonian Ann Marie Davis congratulated organisers, performers and technical staff, telling them that: “the hard work and effort certainly paid off. My family and friends thoroughly enjoyed the show and so did I.”
“The show was absolutely amazing. A few friends and I tuned in and had a virtual party watching it and we were very much entertained,” said production crew member Tiffany Ambrose. That view was echoed by University of the West Indies academic and honorary Guild member Dr. Rita Pemberton who remarked: “thanks for that very wonderful show. Considerable talent lies within the group. I was glad to be able to tune in.”
For those who didn’t join the live international audience the virtual showcase remains on the Facebook pages of the show’s producers Touch Tobago Live and of the Guild itself.
Recent media reports suggest that the Tobago House of Assembly will present this year’s showpiece Heritage Festival events virtually and online. The Tobago Writers Guild has given a clear routemap to success.
Stepping Out of Covid-19
Tobago Writers Guild Virtual Concert
Produced by Touch Tobago Live
New Lens Studio
Scarborough, Tobago Sunday 28 June 2020
[Photos – Carron Jonas]