Monday, 16 June 2014

Known as the 'Helen' of the West Indies!

Dedicated to my mother and her motherland, St Lucia, the Caribbean

 Jade Anouka and Joseph Marcell in Derek Walcott's Omeros
Image Credit: Shakespeare's Globe

Omeros, written by Derek Walcott, was adapted on stage at Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (Shakespeare's Globe) at the end of May 2014.  The Nobel-Prize winning play was produced in partnership with the Lakeside Theatre and directed by Bill Buckhurst.  The poem is loosely based on Homer, a legendary Greek Poet, and some of the characters in The Iliad.  Walcott's creativity ensured a modern makeover of Hector, a today's Odysseus, and Helen, an attractive house servant, on the island of St Lucia and in the spirit of Homer with the ocean as a source of inspiration.  

The three-line form poem with some rhyming couplets captured the oceanic spirit celebrating the characters of Hector and Helen and their livelihoods.  Walcott combined the poem with the island's bi culture with its English, French and African influences.  The live calypso music captured this and played by Tayo Akinbode.

Joseph Marcell, a St Lucian born actor, was a very convincing and charismatic Hector and Jade Anouka, a spirited Helen who was fought over by many.  The subtle and simple staging by Anthony Lamble co-ordinated the intimate setting of the candle lit Sam Wanamaker's Playhouse.  The use of candles made the experience atmospheric and capturing the poem's contemplative moods.

Omeros is one of Derek Wallcott's highly acclaimed pieces of work which was published in 1990 and and he certainly has an authorial presence in the poem.  He raises St Lucia's past and present symbolism and also the poignancy of cliches and social exploitations which is felt goes against the inner beauty and heritage of the Caribbean.  It was a good opportunity to appreciate narrative poetry in a stage setting and also significantly celebrating maternal cultural heritage.

Sources: Shakespeare's Globe, Omeros Programme, Wikipedia

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