Stories Beyond Boundaries

Setting the Scene…

Until 2001, and the death of 94 year old ‘Primo’, the Wild Indians were not the only Cocolo dance drama to survive in San Pedro. Primo along with many others who now perform with the Wild Indians maintained the masquerade of Mummies. This is an Afro-Caribbean acquisition of the British folk drama known throughout the UK by various names, such as; Soul-Cakers, Tipteerers, Galoshins, Pace-Eggers and Mummers.

The British folk drama is one of the very few continuous traditions that have survived the pressures of social changes and modernisation in the British Isles. Its roots can be traced back at least to the 18th century although some have puts its origins in medieval drama or even pagan rituals. Despite its various names it has a unity of spirit and expression; a play of death and resurrection performed at the turning point of the seasons with comedy and fear dished out in equal measure. Characters include; St George, St Patrick, St David, St Andrew, The King of Egypt, The Turkish Knight, Bold Slasher and the Quack Doctor.

Thanks to the excellent scholarship and research which resulted in the formation of the Traditional Drama Research Group it is possible to identify the particular text that was used by the descendants of African slaves in St. Kitts and Nevis.

 

New Cultural Experience Touring the UK:

Stories Beyond Boundaries

Death and Resurrection in Britain and the Caribbean

The folk drama was widespread in Britain and Ireland with related plays performed in other parts of Europe and beyond. Play texts can be traced back at least as far as the 18th century. Its performance appears to be related to the very poorest land workers who at certain times of the year would entertain the better off servants in the great houses hoping for some charity in return.

This very same folk tradition was the inspiration for a fictional story The Peace Egg written by Juliana Horatia Ewing and published in 1871 in Aunt Judy’s Magazine, for children brought up in ‘polite society’. The story was so popular that she was required to publish the full play text. Albeit amended in places to tone down the ‘rougher’ elements of the folk tradition. This was published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and in this form appears to have traveled to the Caribbean where the book was stolen by someone working for the church. The text was absorbed by the black community, incorporated into their own Christmas masquerade; reclaimed by the folk tradition.

The British folk drama will be performed by the most powerful exponents of the tradition in the British Isles. The origins and nature of the play will be explored in a short film that will also tell the story of the play’s journey to the Caribbean. Descriptions and illustrations of the other masquerade groups will be provided as well as how these relate to traditions in other Caribbean islands and other parts of the world.

Los Guloyas will provide an exhilarating end to this story of a specific instance of culture transcending racial, social and geographical boundaries; a celebration of living traditions, of unity through diversity.

Aims & Objectives

 

Interactive Workshops:

Stories Beyond Boundaries

African dance and British drama

Through a series of interactive workshops led by tradition bearers with great experience in arts education children and young people will be able to explore and discover the roots of their own culture, the traditions of others and how they are connected at a fundamental level of human expression.

Elements of social and cultural history will be combined with hands on learning of costume design, music, dance and drama. The students will present their work at the end of the workshops in collaboration with the tradition bearers. This is a unique opportunity for children and young people to engage with living history in a fun, challenging and engaging way. By these means workshop attendees, their friends and families will be instilled with a deeper appreciation of the historical and cultural contexts and the inter-connections between British, African and Caribbean traditions.

  • Instruction in the folk traditions of the British Isles led by experienced workshop providers.
  • Instruction in Caribbean Masquerade traditions led by children and adults of the UNESCO award holding group Los Guloyas.

Aims & Objectives

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