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‘Under the Mango Tree’ – Background for Montserrat Reporter

School-Play-St-Patrick-Week-(21)Under the Mango Tree was performed by children on March 16, 2013 as part of the St. Patrick’s week of celebrations. The show was staged late afternoon in a double header at the old Salem primary school and has been talked about ever since.

Sian Wynne provides below a run-down of the organisers and the show highlighting the children as the stars.

In January of this year Alys Jenkins and Rebecca Chalmers decided to combine their skills in both drama and music to work with a group of the island’s children ages 7 – 11. During the eight weeks of workshops they created a 45 minute musical play featuring both original music composed by the group and adaptations of existing recognisable local music. Workshops were held at the Hilltop Coffee House and Family Centre on Saturday afternoons and were attended by 30 children.

After eight weeks of workshops and rehearsals, the final production was performed at the old Salem School on Saturday 16th March as part of the St Patrick’s week of celebrations.  The play was originally scheduled for one performance on Tuesday 12th at 7pm, but when it was realised that this was the Look Out Sports Day, due to finish at 6pm on the same day, the producers knew it would be too much to expect the children to perform after a day of sports.  They also acknowledged that just one show with only 100 seats available would not fulfil demand.  As a result of these two factors, the decision was made to move the show to Saturday afternoon, with two performances.

On the day, the first show had few available seats left and the second show was sold out!  Due to other events on the same day, many people were unable to attend, but since the shows were such a success, word of mouth is now requesting a further performance, which may or may not be possible.

The stage at the Salem School was transformed by Peter & Sian Filleul into a real theatrical space, using stage, lighting and sound equipment loaned from the Cultural Centre and curtains from individuals, tied with string on to bamboo poles!  The set decoration was made using palm leaves and other vegetation from various sources, pieces of string, staples and sellotape.  Costumes were either made on the spot with safety pins or provided by various sources.  It is amazing what a bit of imagination and a lot of commitment can produce.

Whilst it is possible to put on a show like this for little money with so many volunteers offering help with transport, set design, stage and wings construction, the reality is that it takes many hours of hard work – by the children and their parents, the producers and volunteers.  It is not money that prevents productions like this, but commitment, vison, ideas and manpower.  The producers say that all the hard work and hours were worth it when they saw the end result – the joy of the cast and the real appreciation of the audience, including a standing ovation!  Many members of the audience said it was one of the best, original, pieces of children’s theatre they had seen anywhere in the world – the humour came through, the acting, the stage presence and of course, the singing and dancing.School-Play-St-Patrick-Week-(22)

The basic story told in the play was that of two children exploring the island, discovering the story of the Mermaid of Chance’s Peak and that of the King of Redonda.  They travel back in time determined to find the Mermaid of Chances Peak and prove she is real to those who see her as just a fairy tale. Along their journey they meet the Arawaks, Christopher Columbus, African slaves and an Irish girl called Erin (from Montserrat’s Flag!). The do indeed find the Mermaid as well as the Orioles and the fabulous King of Redonda (self prossed King and calypso star!) the story then culminates at Festival 50 where the children see all of the people they have meet along the way.

Throughout the story there are many references that only those on island and familiar with Montserrat would understand:  the repeated digging up of roads, the unreliable ferry, local venues and events, ZJB announcements, radio jingles and even a reference to one of the popular Calypso songs from Festival 50.

The production was very ambitious and right until the final run-through, the producers were not overly confident, but once the first show started, with a real audience and a packed auditorium, the cast simply shone and rose to the occasion.

The children were the stars, the grown-ups were just the facilitators.

Let’s hope this can be the start of many dramatic productions for the children of the island.

It is hoped that a video recording of the play will be made available in the near future for those who missed it, or for those who loved it and want to see it again.

Alys Jenkins is from the UK, in Montserrat with her husband, Matthew, who is on a contract with the Government of Montserrat, and their 3 children.  She has  nearly 20 years experience making theatre with and for children and young people. 

Rebecca Chalmers has been funded by the Montserrat Foundation in the UK to work in Montserrat for one academic year to teach music of all genres to the children of the island.  She is an accomplished musician (flautist & pianist) and a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, UK – which is also where Sir George Martin received his formal music education.

See pics on our facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151378837365852.1073741833.203080105851&type=3

Posted in Entertainment, Kids, Local, News1 Comment

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Under the Mango Tree

by Cathy Buffonge

_6815058413A most captivating children’s musical drama performance, ‘Under the Mango Tree’, took place during St Patrick’s Week, conceived by drama teacher Alys Jenkins and music teacher Rebecca Chalmers. The show was the result of a weekly music and drama workshop for around thirty children, held by Alys and Rebecca at the Hilltop family centre. The children themselves were involved in creating the drama, writing the script and the songs, and all of them performed outstandingly.

The show started with two children (Jermahri Meade and Kiera Ryan) deciding to go in search of the Mermaid of Chance’s Peak (Rhonnieka Sweeney), and their adventures on the way: meeting up with Orioles, Arawaks, Africans, Erin (the lady with the harp on Montserrat’s flag) among others, and finally the King of Redonda (Rhonil Lewis).  Eventually the King tries to swim to Redonda (‘But I can’t swim!’) and comes back to marry the Mermaid so there’s a happy ending.

It was a pleasure to see the beautiful Mermaid costume worn by Miss Madou at the recent Queen Show again in use, as well as St Augustine School’s African costumes.  Too often Festival costumes are put aside never to be used again, such a waste of all the skill, creativity and effort that went into making them._0471781620

There was plenty of humour in the show. The popular song ‘Dig a tunnel’ was adapted as ‘Dig a tunnel from Montserrat to Redonda!’ There was a brief encounter with a stop sign and Public Works digging up the road, with the comment ‘But they dug it up last week!’ The show was held at the old Salem Primary School, and the scenery added greatly to the show, with stage design done by Peter Filleul and team.

This was a beautiful performance, and also much enjoyed by the children who took part. Looking around the audience the majority were adults, and it would be so nice if more children could see it, although I realize this would be hard to organize. Congratulations to all involved in this innovative and enchanting show.

_9094180391In addition to Cathy’s long to be published article, (we apologise to her), there public exclamations on how they felt about the exciting production.

“I tip my hat to Rebecca and her team for putting themselves through all of this just to ensure that the children had a good time it’s absolutely breath taking.”

“I thought it was really good, it’s amazing what they put together in the time that they had …I like the comedy, I thought it was really funny…”

“I think it was really fantastic for the short period of time that the kids had for this production.”

Next week we will give a full report and recapture the production on how it came about and how it was put together.

See more pictures on our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/set=a.10151378837365852.1073741833.203080105851&type=3

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Kids Korner March 15 2013

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Montserrat Secondary School hosts Commonwealth Day festivities

 MSS Commonwealth Day1GIU – The students at the Montserrat Secondary School on Monday presented their annual celebrations for Commonwealth Day.

The highlight of this was in keeping with the theme “Opportunity Through Enterprise,” where the Student Leadership Team launched their new business initiative called MSS DigPro. MSS DigiPro is a student managed media house that aims to celebrate and market local businesses through the use of ICT and Social Media.

On Monday, the group showcased the new television promo for the Bank of Montserrat and MS Osborne, their first clients. Representatives of both companies were on hand to receive copies of the new TV ads and the accepted thanks for choosing to support the new venture.

Honourable Minister of Education Colin Riley said in his greetings that he is always excited to come to the school and see the new developments. He noted that today’s MSS was much better than the one he went to as a student and he added that the future for the school and the students leaving the school was very bright.MSS Commonwealth Day4

He commended the students behind MSS DigiPro and said he was going to be throwing some business their way.

Throughout the morning celebration, the MSS choir and students from the Form two music class performed under the direction of teacher Rebecca Chalmers. The four students vying for president of the Student Council also gave short speeches to encourage their classmates to vote.

Following the ceremony, visitors were able to view the many IT presentations developed by students to highlight activities at the school since the school year began.

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Kids Korner March 8 2013

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The Montserrat Children Society, Inc. launched

Children Society (11)On February 8, 2013 a group of 15 volunteers, launched a new non-profit organization called the Montserrat Children’s Society under Mission Statement, “Children who have urgent needs may be assisted regardless of race, nationality, or disability.”

The launch too place at the Hill Top Coffee Shop, St. Peters, which saw presentations live and by video from the UK on children’s issues in Montserrat, and the Caribbean. The presentations centred around securing the well-being of children is often outside the scope of government. According to a release announcing the launch, it explains, “This means there are still many children whose needs are neglected and they, and their parents, often have no place to seek help. The society hopes to fill this gap and be their voice to raise awareness on the issues they face.”

The project officer is Trevor Howe who chaired the proceedings of the launch, while Mrs. Janice Panton who resides in London, England and who gave the feature address by live video using the skype technology.

Mrs. Panton is the president of the Society and in her address spoke about the need to help children who are sexually abused.

“Today, we have reached a point where as a community we want to provide to all vulnerably children, the support that would enable them to have equal opportunity and access in all areas where they can develop to their full potential,” she said as she began the main part of her presentation.

She revealed the birth of the organisation when she announced that the initiative to establish the Society, “came from professionals working with vulnerable children in Montserrat,”

While speaking to the UK’s Special Educational Needs  (SEN) for children who are assessed as needing additional support, she then spoke on the issue Child sex abuse, which she said, “happens in every society, and Montserrat is no exception.”

“Where this occurs these vulnerable children need safe havens and support from within the community in addition to the professional support given,” she said

The president noted that It is no coincidence that the majority of founding members of the Montserrat Children’s Society Inc. work within the caring profession, social workers, doctor, Minister of religion or are professionals from the justice system and environmental health.

Several of the these founding members on the ground spoke at the launch which ended with a brief cocktail reception.

The other members of the Executive of Montserrat Children Society are Vice president Dr. Asher Gopal, Secretary Tricia Francis, treasurer inspector Courtney Rodney, communications officer Delis Daley and project officer Trevor Howe.

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Kids Korner January 11, 2013

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Kids Korner October 26, 2012

Hello everyone – It is kid’s time with Auntie Lyka “In Your Korner”. You are now back in school and it is now time for the home stretch to end of term. Hope you are revising your school work in preparations for your End of term test. Remember he who fail to prepare, prepare to fail… Read a book as you go along.

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Rotary donates baby warmers to Glendon Hospital

The Montserrat Rotary Club with assistance from Rotary International on Friday last, October 19, made a donation of two open incubators or radiant warmers to the Obstetrics Unit at the Glendon hospital.

At the brief handover ceremony, Rotary Club president Dr. Braimah Kassim (Glendon Hospital surgeon) says the donation is part of Rotary’s mandate to give back to the community.

In the presence of hospital nursing officials, including Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Owen, and several Rotarians, Kassim said at the handover: “We are gathered here, because the Rotary Club of Montserrat is here to do what it does best, give back to the community in which we live and work,” adding that “our motto as it is well known to all is, ‘service above self’.”

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Owen and Rotary Club president Dr. Braimah Kassim (Glendon Hospital surgeon)

The president said they were presenting the two open incubators or infant radiant warmers to the Glendon hospital to fulfill its mandate in caring for the newborn.

Principal Nursing Officer Desreen Silcott chaired the brief ceremony, while Dr. Michael Owner in accepting on behalf of the hospital, thanked the Rotary Club and said: “Small babies tend to lose heat when their born and… we have radiant warmers to prevent loss of heat in small children.”

The CMO said that this a big part of the care of newborn babies, so having a couple of pieces of kit like this is actually invaluable and will be an enormous asset to the equipment which, “we currently have and it will be extremely valuable.”

Principal Nursing Officer Desreen Silcott

He said they really are genuinely very grateful to Rotary Montserrat and to Rotary International”. “Thank you all in Rotary on behalf of the Ministry of Health for what will be a very useful and valuable addition to our equipment,” he concluded.

Rotary and Polio eradication

On Wednesday last Montserrat Rotary club joined the rest of the world and observe World Polio Day. Polio is a highly infectious disease which causes paralysis and is sometimes fatal, to date there is no cure for the disease. Rotary international notes that world Polio day follows a succession of significant development that have made 2012 one of the most important years in the history of the polio eradication initiative.

The Rotary Club of Montserrat has made contributions to the Polio eradication initiative with the last contribution being US$500.00 in 2011. However, this year the club of Montserrat will host  ‘give a dollar’ to the Polio project throughout December 2012. Club members will ask the public to contribute a minimum of $1.00 each time to aid in the eradication of Polio in world.

Polio remains Endemic in three countries Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

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Kids Korner October 19, 2012

Hello everyone – It is kid’s time with Auntie Lyka “In Your Korner”. We are now at half term. I hope you take your week of holiday and revise the work you have done for the term so far. Go to the library and borrow books of interest and read. Do enjoy half term break.

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