Rehearsals for the Cayman Drama Society’s latest production, Elmina’s Kitchen, are under way and director Bill Bewley hopes the play will pack a powerful message to Cayman’s youth.
The third full-scale production of the CDS since the refurbished Prospect Playhouse opened its doors March this year, the play tells the story of a single father’s struggle to survive and protect his wayward son from the temptations of crime and a life of easy money.
‘This is an exciting play,’ Mr. Bewley said. ‘I really believe in it. One of the things about the play is that it has a very powerful message; it’s easy to get into crime. Most importantly though it is not a moralising play, but the morals are there.
‘People tempted to go down the route of crime and easy money will, I hope, learn something from this play. It tells the stark reality of crime.’
The play, written by Kwame Kwei-Armah – winner of the 2003 London Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright – first premiered in London at the National Theatre to critical claim.
Set in a West Indian café in Hackney, South London, the story focuses on one family’s three generations of men, who play out their funny and tragic lives with devastating consequences.
Elmina’s Kitchen offers something for everyone interested in society’s ills, from guns, drugs, crime, racism, single parenthood and the effects of a frustrated desire to achieve.
Most importantly though, Mr. Bewley hopes it will convey to Cayman’s youth that crime does not pay.
The heavy drama has a cast of six, including many veteran actors such as Fritz McPherson and Leeroy Holness – regular cast members of the annual comedy Rundown.
The lead role will be played by Vincent Francis, a regular at church presentations. Other cast members are Lionel Durrant, Dennis Hue and Deon Mattis who is taking on the only female role.
The play, like its predecessor, Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell, is littered with foul language, however, unlike the previous production, Mr. Bewley has chosen to carefully edit the script to allow it to appeal to a broader audience.
‘Because this play has such a powerful message I want the youth to be able to see it, therefore I had to edit it. There are still some occasional profanities, as there had to be a certain amount to keep the authenticity, however it has been toned down,’ he said.
‘I also have to recognise the culture of Cayman and I believe that the cast feel more comfortable performing it. I’m confident I have found a good compromise.’
The language is that of the streets combined with West Indian accents; however the director commented that it will not be too strong and that those from Europe and North America will easily be able to follow.
The production team is currently in the midst of securing a sponsorship deal, which they hope will enable them to take the play to schools and local youth groups, as well as the Sister Islands.
They are also looking at the possibility of making it free to those aged 17 to 25 years old, pending on whether a sponsor can be secured.
‘As the play has such a powerful message about crime, we really want to get it to the youth,’ Mr. Bewley stressed. ‘Crime is a very in subject and we hope Cayman’s youth come and see the play.
‘If we are able to secure a sponsorship deal we hope that it will enable us to video the production which can then be shown in schools, although we may have to further edit the script to make it more suitable.’
Rehearsals for the play have been taking place for the past three weeks and members of the CDS are busy preparing the stage and gathering props.
Although the play is a heavy drama, the director said that there is light relief.
‘There is a character called Baygee who I love. He is fantastic. The author has been very clever in writing him into the play as he offers some needed light relief.’
Mr. Bewley added that the roots of the play lie in Greek tragedy.
‘In my view it has a very powerful ending,’ he said.
Elmina’s Kitchen opens Thursday 29 June and runs until Saturday, 15 July at the Prospect Playhouse, Red Bay. Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7.30pm. Tickets cost $15, available by calling the box-office on 949-5054. No one under the age of 17 will be allowed into the theatre. Visit www.caymandrama.org.ky for further information.
Playwright – Kwane Kwei-Armah
Directed by Bill Bewley and Allison Maxwell
Produced by Phil Pace and Derek Leepack
Baygee – Lionel Durrant
Deli – Vincent Francis
Digger – Leroy Holness
Clifton – Dennis Hue
Anastasia – Deon Mattis
Ashley – Fritz McPherson