A Starry, Rainy night – who will free the artist?

I picked the wrong day to re-connect with the arts. It was like I was waking up from a long sleep as I suddenly realized that it had been a very long time since I had gone out to enjoy a performance. I have deserted that voice of mine that enjoys the arts. I used to like to experience and write. But I am more saddened, because I realize that it isn’t just me who has been hiding out in the shade. I missed the movement that seemed to have joined me as I slept.

I tell myself that I am fortunate because I live in a country surrounded by boundless beaches; beautiful water that I can choose to walk into; sand that I can choose to sink my toes into.

I tell myself that I am fortunate because I come from a country that dares to claim its place on the world stage for so many reasons, not the least among these our twin peaks, Gros and Petit Piton, and our Nobel Laureates. Saint Lucia – synonymous now with arresting beauty and intellect.

Except that we forgot to build a home for our artistic expression. We have left our artists out in the cold. Ten years ago, twenty years ago, thirty years ago – no change. The heart beats, the soul bleeds.

I remember the contention surrounding the construction of the National Cultural Centre. For many years, it has remained the only place with a roof on where we can “dress” up and go out. We have outgrown it and we have not even realized this.

It was the greatest thing next to sliced bread, because it had catapulted us into a whole new arena, from the days of the Town Hall which had graduated to the Lighthouse Theatre. Those are the venues I remember. The ones without dressing rooms and mediocre ambiance that the artist struggled to overcome at best.

And then there is Samaans Park; or Gaiety. After all they have seen the greatest of the jazz performances; they have seen Word Alive and carnival events, so why not O Starry Starry Night – billed as A Caribbean Premier, written and directed by Derek Walcott, Nobel Laureate – as well. That Friday night in Saint Lucia, the stars did not come out. I feel for the actors. They have real careers in the arts. They perform in the real world where they have gained the respect of their peers. I am sad again because I fear that once they leave, long after that “Starry Starry Night”, when they think of Saint Lucia, they will only remember that rainy rainy night, when the performance had to stop. Unthinkable. So is this the charm that this third world country has, masquerading as a developed country that believes it can compete on a level playing field? When will the artist come in from the rain? When will the show really begin? Are we truly ready to welcome King Lear? Or are we just in this never-ending masquerade? I hope I do not drift back into sleep again; or if I do, that I shall wake up again quickly.

But I confess I was weak. Already, I have let myself sink back into the shade. I did not make the Saturday night showing of O Starry Starry Night. I went to church instead. I knew that I could safely hide out from the rain. Perhaps if we come out from hiding we will find that we have bled too much and we may not be able to stop the hemorrhaging. Who will be able to save us from ourselves? This is where the enemy lies, hiding.

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