“Three Sisters After Chekhov”- the slow death of Colonialism
May 28, 2018
A local cascadoux dish set against wine glasses, exquisite lace and table napkins mirrored a broader social topic of Trinidad and Tobago’s Pre-Independence era; an aspiration for European values. However, as if the great fires in Port of Spain was an ominous sign of the fall of the colonial rule across its territories, this quest for “Europeaness” was about to change in the West Indies.
Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” chronicles the decline of the Upper Class Prozorov family in Russia during the 1900s, and Trinidadian Award Winning playwright Mustapha Matura reinvents this plot in a Caribbean context. In “Three Sisters After Chekhov”, the Rivers family undergoes a similar transition. Through the Rivers sisters, we are provided with a glimpse of the etiquette and colonial life in Trinidad. The sisters languish over their dreams, their unfulfilled relationships and changing lifestyle. They are also consumed with uncertainty as the prospect of a change in the country’s leadership emerges.
On Friday 25th and Saturday 26th May, “Three Sisters After Chekhov” was brought to life at the Naparima Bowl by the National Theatre Arts Company (NTAC), under the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts.
Through the lives of sisters Alma (played by Chanel Glasgow and Patti Ann-Ali) Helen (played by Breige Wilson and Shivonne Church-Isaacs) and Audrey (played by Syntyche Bishops), we are exposed to the then social and political standing of women, which leads us to self-reflect on their advanced status across all circles of life today. Throughout the play the family’s declining wealth, largely due to their brother Peter’s mismanagement of his finances (role played by Marvin Dowridge), strips away the layers of superficiality and reveals an everlasting, loving bond among the sisters as they face their newfound impoverished lives together. The feisty Jean (played by Cherysh Latouche), unwillingly marries Peter and contributes to the family’s declining wealth through her lavish lifestyle, almost as an act of rebellion to quell her disapproval of Peter.
Fabrice Barker brilliantly plays the bravado character Francis, Helen’s husband who aspires for political greatness and advocates for continued colonization. His yearning is contrasted with the ideologies of Scott (played by Nicholas Subero), Audrey’s loyal lover who calls for self-government. We see Captain Richard (as played by Joseph Quesnel), the typical embodiment of the British war soldier who charms the Trinidadian woman with his ‘foreign’ appearance and war experiences that makes him a ‘mysterious’ adventure for Helen.
Meanwhile, Lucas (played by Kearn Samuel), is a comrade of Scott and boldly tries to stake his claim of Audrey. His actions spoke to the objectification of women, which is a running theme in the play. Of course the Midnight Robber (played by Adam Pascal), a popular character in our Folklore tradition, is used to tell this intriguing tale of love, dissatisfaction, and a quest for independence.
NTAC’s cast of 12 young men and women prove that the local theatre community has world-class talent to offer in our performing spaces, and this sentiment was felt in the resounding applauses and positive feedback received from audiences. On Friday 25th a Matinee Show was held for secondary school students, who came out in their numbers and did not withhold their appreciation for the production.
Artistic Director of NTAC Belinda Barnes shares the introspective journey both her and her cast would have undergone in preparation for this production- “Three Sisters after Chekov seemed to be a simple, achievable play in writing. However, bringing it from the page to the stage has been quite challenging. NTAC has worked hard at understanding the discipline and style of the period. As Artistic Director I think it is necessary that the NTAC work with different styles of plays that tell our Trinidadian story. Last year we presented Man Better Man by Dr. Errol Hill, where NTAC was in the Gayelle and the wiles of Jah Papa. This year, we are in the living room of the Rivers family seated at the dinner table with the European table setting paired with a familiar, Trinidadian Sunday lunch. It may seem pretentious, however, Matura’s Three Sisters After Chekov presents us with a look at our Trinbagonian self in the colonial period.”
The MCDCA extends special thanks to Yesteryear Antiques for their loaning of props, and to the hundreds of patrons who attended these performances which were free to the public.
For media inquiries, please contact:
The Communications Unit
Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts
624-5004 Ext. 5145 / 5148