“give thanks #TVJ for allowing #Quilt to be a part of the programme this morning, let us never forget those who remain nameless 73…?” – Nadia Roxburgh, Technical Director, Quilt Performing Arts Compnany

Today, May 23, 2013, the Quilt Performing Arts Company (Quilt for short) a group of young actors, dancers, singers, writers and directors, performed excerpts from their award winning piece, 73…? on the Smile Jamaica morning programme on TvJ, a local tv channel.

Now you’re probably wondering, what is 73…? and where did it come from? 73..? was created in 2011 for a performing arts competition, Tallawah, staged at the Philip Sherlock Centre For The Creative Arts annually. The piece was made in a bid to tell a story of what happened during the Tivoli Incursion which started on May 24, 2010. (See the following links to get an understanding of what happened http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLrb28fn_mo / http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKEhoG8MKG8)

The content of the piece was so heavy and well portrayed that it got what could be deemed as the premier award of the competition, Best Production. That about sums it up right? Wrong!

As a former member of the group, I had an inside view of what went into making such a piece. Research was done and not just your everyday internet search but interviews with residents were also conducted. I can recall the Saturday in rehearsal when Nadia brought some brown sheets of paper and pens and told us that she and Rayon had something they’d like us to do. A video was shown of the Tivoli Incursion and the rehearsal space was dead silent. We were asked to write what we felt at that moment after watching the video through whichever lens we wanted to; whether it be the police, a mother, a child or a “gunman”. What happened after that was just short of amazing. Through weeks of intense preparation for the competition, the group had to pull on emotions they never thought they had and not just perform for the sake of performing but as the Director, Rayon Mclean, always says, “do not act, become”. That was exactly what they did.

Why Now?

So why would Quilt reenact this piece today? For one, the long awaited report on the incursion was released last month which of course raised a number of questions. Secondly, tomorrow (May 24, 2013) will be mark 3 years since the incursion took place and the residents still needed closure.

Since the entire piece would be too long to perform on Smile Jamaica, Quilt chose three emotive excerpts from the overall piece which blew up my entire Twitter timeline. Well, for those who were watching it anyways. The first piece showed two views on the incursion; the police and the residents.

This particular excerpt was that of a countdown. Let’s call it: The Countdown. It started at 73 and ended with 1 Don. Now it is up to you to decide who the “don” is for both groups highlighted. While watching it, I only wished I was part of the original cast but at least I got a chance to perform in the piece last year, some time in January. My Twitter timeline was buzzing as people were simply amazed at what they were seeing coming from such young people. I must admit, seeing this piece again after so long, brought about a reflective state of mind, especially because it was aired nationally. I’m sure the residents of Tivoli as well as the wider Jamaica appreciated this.

If that wasn’t enough, Quilt did it a second time around with their second excerpt. I’ll call this one: The Voting Line.

Patrice Anderson, was more powerful than I’ve ever seen her perform. I mean she did get an award for her role in this piece at said competition. I don’t know what happened in the studio before the second excerpt but it must have been mind boggling. Maybe it was because two residents from Tivoli had just finished their interviews which brought about such raw emotion. Then again, Patrice has always done this part justice.

This excerpt had the actors in a line, ready to mark their Xs. The mark they’re making represents the choice of representation; but it seems that such representation had failed them and so instead they place their hands “in ink, in blood and mark the X of death”. Words just simply cannot explain how and what this piece is like. One would have to see it live. Is this a hint for a Quilt Season?

The final excerpt is known as the Tug-O-War. You’d probably think this was your average rope with two teams tugging at each other but that isn’t the case. Never have I seen or had ever thought to interpret a tug-o-war like this.

Dancers used their bodies as the literal tugging instrument while a monologue was taking place. You could hear the screams and cries as what was once a fun game of tug-o-war became a fight for survival. On Smile Jamaica, the piece was amplified as more dancers were included and new choreography was introduced which brought the struggle to life.

None of us can ever say we know what happened in Tivoli. None of us can say we know what these people went through and are still going through. We don’t and wouldn’t know what it was like if we weren’t part of the situation. All that can be said is that it was indeed tragic to hear and watch on the television about what was taking place.

Quilt did an amazing job on Smile Jamaica and I’m positive the hosts were at a loss for words. Like I’ve always said, I don’t know how Rayon sees what he sees, but when he believes in something, it turns out beautifully. Job well done.


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