- Soca 2017 -

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Karabana is still busy, so I will post again.
Would you believe that it is 27 degrees Celsius and there is a thunderstorm that knocked out my satellite TV and there is hail falling from the sky onto my poor car that doesn’t have a garage? But I digress….

Our culture (West Indian) is influencing all sorts of aspects of Toronto society.

I say West Indian culture and not Trinidad culture (although I am a Trini) because the more West Indians I meet and the more islands I visit, I see that we have more in common than we have as differences. Also, living on a continent that lumps us altogether (for the most part) and sees no distinction between what little island in particular you hail from, might impact my feelings…. But I might hit this topic again later.
Today I want to talk about a dream in High Park. Not the High Park in England, the one in Toronto. For 25 years now, the people at Canstage and their corporate sponsors have been putting on a Shakespeare play that runs the entire summer. Now, I did take English lit at Saints up until CXC, but I never really cared for Shakespeare. This is not the really boring coles notes version they teach in Highschool . These guys modernize the costumes and work in lots of jokes keeping the atmosphere light. Did I mention this is all happening outside under the stars in a natural grassy amphitheatre. Kinda like the one they built at the new library close to Woodford square, but instead of concrete steps, its carved out of a grassy hill.
So you walk with a blanket, your girl, a picnic and maybe a bottle of wine, and you pay what you can,(minimum suggested donation) and you check out the show. I started going back in my single days, it was a pretty cheap date and the chicks dug it. Now it is one of the things I really look forward to about summer in Toronto.
What does this have to do with Caribana you ask? Well, this year they are performing a mid summer nights dream and the director/Dub poet (Ahdri Zhina Mandiela) is spicing up the performance with a Caribbean flavour. I’m not sure how she is planning to accomplish this, but I can’t wait to see. They are taking this Caribbean theme to the point that on August 12th they are putting on a island themed carnival parade featuring costumed masqueraders, buskers and steel bands. (Before the play of course) For some background, High Park is not really in a West Indian neighbourhood, and the plays are not targeted towards any ethnic group in particular. So, when you attend these plays you find a crowd that is more than half white Canadians, and the rest are literally from the four corners of the globe.

This is our culture affecting mainstream Canadian (or at least Toronto) culture and changing they way people think.

When I was 5 years old, on Saturday mornings, my great Grandmother would take me on the street car down to Kensington Market (not sure why Canadians like to name places after England all the time:) and She would buy all her West Indian (she was from Barbados) ingredients and she would get me a Jamaican patty to take for lunch on Monday. Nobody in my school had any idea what it was I would be eating and when I let friends taste it, they would writhe in pain over the spicy flavour. Today you can’t walk into a corner shop in Toronto and not see a Patty.
Caribana is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2007. The Parade has grown to almost 1 million attendees (the population of Trinidad is about 1,065,842 (July 2006 est.) according to the CIA… I don’t know.
It’s a pretty big deal. Not everybody is happy about it, some people love it, others hate it, some try to ignore it, but most everyone has an opinion on it.
Come check what we are doing in this Country.

Link to some works by the director
http://www.griots.net/archives/mandiela/

If you are visiting for Caribana, you can easily catch the play in the evening, hop on the subway and be back downtown long before the club starts bumpin.
No reservations required but reach early to ensure good seating.
Media release for the play
http://www.canstage.com/2006-2007/pdf/Release%20-%20Dream%20in%20High%20Park.pdf

1 comment:

JJ said...

this should be interested. since i am way low in the states don't reckon I'd get to see the play, but a midsummer's night dream is one shakespeare play that is quite very easy to replicate and incorporate other themes and elements. I've seen a rapped, ballet, modern and disco version of the play over the years.

great for caribbean culture! and wonderful insight about the islands.

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