Entertainment News

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Elixir of Love is a classic

Lifestyle - Sat, 07/07/2018 - 00:36

Comedy is not a concept which naturally comes to mind when thinking of opera, but Gaetano Donizetti’s Elixir of Love currently being staged by the Picoplat Classical Music Development Foundation of T&T for Operafest 2018 intertwines the two in a seamless fashion to produce an awe-inspiring performance.

Donizetti’s romantic comedy plays out in 1940’s Trinidad, as Nemorino (Edward Cumberbatch) spends his last 50 cents to buy a magic potion from the snake oil salesman Dulcamara (Krisson Joseph), to win the fickle heart of Adina (Natalia Dopwell) before she marries the dashing army sergeant Belcore (Paul Cort). The play truly comes across as a slice of Trinbagonian life, with “macocious” villagers and a healthy dose of bacchanal, aided by a superb set designed by Daniella Walcott. Audience members alternately laughed at some characters and sighed in sympathy with others.

Edward Cumberbatch’s acting as the lovelorn Nemorino is superb, as is Dopwell in the role of Adina. Belcore, played by Paul Cort, comes across as uncouth and unattractively persistent, but portrays the appeal of a man in uniform with panache. The classically trained singers left the audience stunned as they sang their way through the story. The storyline was simple and easy to follow, even without the thorough description included in the programme.

Krisson Joseph’s Dulcamara inspired an audience member to say he reminded her of Trevor Sayers, as he alternately convinced the gullible villagers to buy his potions while whispering to the audience that they were simpletons for believing his claims that they could cure everything from rabies to measles, make old people young and give riches and stamina to the drinker.

Dramatic director Helmer Hilwig is to be commended as all involved, including the villagers, fully portrayed their roles as though they were living in the moment. The musical direction of June Nathaniel was also evident in the wonderful attention to detail of the production. The performance was not amplified, but patrons at the back and in the balcony of the Little Carib Theatre were able to hear every word sung by the chorus and principal actors. The chorus members, including Anneliese Kelly, Christiana Lemessy, Clarice Beeput, Deborah Aboud, Inex Matouk, Jake Salloum, Kory Mendez, Jason Lawrence, Christian Roberts, Stephan Poon Ying, Marc Morancie and Jodel Latchman, provided a “robust performance,” according to an audience member.

There was another performance of The Elixir of Love last evening, Friday, with a repeat tomorrow, at the Little Carib Theatre, corner White and Roberts Streets, Woodbrook. Last night’s performance also included the Opera Lime, where patrons were encouraged to lime at the opera with their friends who would not normally go to that kind of production.

There is no performance this evening as the singers do not use microphones so need to rest their voices.

Tickets cost $200 and are available at the Little Carib box office. For show times and more information, go to www.ttoperafest.com and find T&T Opera Festival 2018 on Facebook.

Categories: Entertainment News

Boothman breaks away in Newtown

Lifestyle - Sat, 07/07/2018 - 00:34

Veteran guitarist and singer Michael Boothman will launch his new album— Break Away—tomorrow evening at Kaiso Blues Cafe, 85 Woodford Street, Newtown, at a concert titled The Man and His Music—Michael Boothman Live.

The popular artiste said listeners will be intrigued by his new music, which breaks away from the easy listening jazz style he is best known for.

Boothman said he’s always wanted to produce his own music, and having opened his studio in the last few years, he now has the opportunity to create more music. The CD is part of a rebranding exercise for the musician.

“I want to do a series of performances, beginning on the eighth, to get myself back out there, as the younger people may not be familiar with who I am.

Many people associate me with cool laid-back jazz music, not remembering that I was one of the catalysts in the evolution of soca music in the 70s.

So ever since that period I have been dreaming of having my own studio.”

Boothman said the album is inspired by the music he would have heard when he began going to watch Carnival with his parents.

“I went back to the days when the brass bands were live and raw in the streets without trucks. I used the music that broke up fights that happened in the fetes long ago. It was like the last song played when two bands clashed to see who would jam more, that was the main piece of music that you could play.

“I was influenced a lot by Ron Berridge. I was fortunate to play bass with South African singer Lauren Clarkson and I was influenced by the African rhythms, and so I have a song called Going South on the album which is African fusion. My keyboardist is Venezuelan so I did a Latin Fusion number called Fuse It Up and the main song of the album is a song called Jiganga, named after the strum of the guitar.”

Boothman said he’s waited to release the album until he had built up a certain amount of songs.

“I usually tell young artists who want to get out there and jump in, you have to have wares on your shelf meaning that you have to have a backlog of music, because if you make a hit and you have nothing to come after that you’ll be a one hit wonder. 

“You always have to have continuity, so fortunately for me I’m a songwriter, so I have tonnes of songs, rhythms and music to share with the world. My next project recording wise is the Kysofusion project which I’ve already started.

I decided to do a Mike Boothman project, which is Break Away, so I have different avenues in putting out the styles of music because you want to build a catalog of songs.”

Boothman said he put the album together with the assistance of longtime friend and producer Howard Lindeman, who has been a colleague since they worked on Boothman’s Heaven album in the 1970s. He also introduced Lindeman to some young musicians, including his son, who he has been mentoring since opening the studio.

Said the six-foot-plus musician: “When he came, those kids saw the difference between what they’re doing and what they call music because a lot of times it’s just digital noise that they put together. In a strong sense they’ve moved away from melody, lyrics and our essence, which is our style of music and our dialect.

“I’m bringing Howard back to do a workshop and we’re in negotiations with UTT before they go off for their vacation.

They have a lot of young people that really want to do it professionally. My whole life is giving back so whoever would listen, they could come by the studio and they are benefiting from being around.”

Boothman said he thinks audiences will appreciate and be proud of the new music, “because it is calypso music, not soca.

I really believe that our music is disrespected and disregarded and everyone is looking to take away the main elements of the music.

“I feel it’s time we pay real respect to our calypso music because calypso music is the mother beat of the Caribbean music, because it is the first recorded music in the world and we take it for granted.

“My input or my vision is to be able to take the music, treat it with respect and put it out there, let people hear it and make it and bring the people to the table.”

More info

The Man and His Music —Michael Boothman Live takes place on July 8 at Kaiso Blues Cafe, Port-of- Spain. It features the band Kysofusion with Boothman Simone Mendoza, Orville Roach, Clint DeCoteau, Johnathan Hensley and Ernesto Garcia.

Contact 682 9705 for more information

Categories: Entertainment News

Dishaana promises to bring home Miss Sari title

Lifestyle - Fri, 07/06/2018 - 02:04

Dishaana Sewdass of Princes Town, first runner-up at the 2017 Miss India T&T talent and beauty pageant, is representing our country at the Miss Sari International Pageant being held in Guadeloupe.

Pre-pageant activities commenced on Tuesday and tomorrow evening, Sewdass will compete against delegates from 19 other countries.

T&T has been part of the wonderful learning experience of Miss Sari International for the last eight years.

Every year the pageant gets bigger and better and T&T is always up to the challenge.

A T&T delegate won the coveted crown in 2012 and several have been runners-up.

Before her departure, Sewdass told principals of tthe Miss India T&T Organisation (MITT) this experience was an opportunity of a lifetime for young women like herself to represent their country as an ambassador.

She added that, based on all her hard work and training, she believed that this year she would bring home the crown.

All training and preparation for Sewdass was done by the Miss India T&T Organisation.

Also in Guadeloupe proudly flying the T&T flag with Sewdass and MITT officials is the T&T Dance Company.

A much acclaimed troupe, T&T Dance Company has been a cultural ambassador for T&T on many occasions.

Its dancers travelled to the Republic of China for an International Folk Festival, and have performed in Dubai and India at the Miss India Worldwide Competition.

T&T Dance Company is managed by Mahindra Rampersad and its lead dancer at present is Erica Caton.

Rampersad and Caton are of the firm belief that T&T music and dance is very unique, is world class and that local artistes have a lot to offer the world with our unique dance styles of calypso, Chutney and Chutney Soca.

Cultural icons, calypsonian The Mighty Sparrow and comedian Tommy Joseph have both seen the group perform and both have lauded the group for their impressive performances.

For young women interested in getting the same opportunity as Sewdass has, the Miss India T&T Organisation is commencing its screening sessions for the 2018 pageant very soon.

For more information about the MITT pageant call or whatsapp 757-7552, or follow the organisation on Facebook Miss India Trinidad and Tobago.

Categories: Entertainment News

My mummy, my hero

Lifestyle - Thu, 07/05/2018 - 05:46

Over the past 25 years ALTA has had great impact on people around the country who have gone on to gain full-time employment, CSEC passes and self-confidence through the programme.

ALTA also had significant impact on families. By working with parents who are non-readers, the programme has also taught their children to read, write and spell. The column today tells the story of how the programme impacts families. Kernisha Skeete daughter of past ALTA student Jackie Skeete shares her story.

She couldn’t read but for the sake of my education she went back to school. Some say I taught my momma to read but the reality is she taught me. She allowed me to spend my evenings at the library until they had to ask me to leave. My mother went out of her way to ensure I went to school whether we had money or not. My mother taught me the importance of education as she attended ALTA classes at various locations in Arima. I grew up attending ALTA field trips and gaining new aunties and uncles as she progressed through each level, sometimes doing one level multiple times.

As I observed my mother persevere to one day write post primary examinations after completing ALTA’s Level 3, I gained an appreciation for education. She continuously reminded me of the importance of acquiring an education and explained to me how it would impact my life. As a child, I listened, not fully grasping the significance of her words. As she practiced her syllables, vocabulary and spellings, I practiced too. In retrospect, I can say ALTA taught us both. Her cards were my cards, her books were my leisure reading. I love to read and seeing my mother progress from a struggling student to someone who was able to stand before a crowd and read fluently marvelled me. Seeing her progress from spelling words completely different to their actual spelling to minor misspellings touched my life in a way I cannot translate into words.

The tutors of ALTA played a significant role in my mother’s learning as they inspired her with each session: they encouraged, applauded and corrected her as necessary.

When an external issue impacted her learning, they sat and listened patiently to ensure she was able to learn without hindrance.

I would not be where I am had my mother not seen the importance of education. I may not have performed as well as I did in SEA had it not been for our attendance at ALTA classes.

ALTA, like a number of persons and institutions, has contributed to our lives in ways we simply cannot pinpoint because we have gained in almost every area of our lives from what many may consider as just a class.

My mummy, my hero, my role model.

• Kernisha is currently a fourth year medical student. Her mom passed away some years ago. She was a market vendor during the day and an Alta student on evenings. Unfortunately, she didn’t live to see her daughter enroll in medical school.

• Volunteer, donate or sponsor-a-student. Call 621-5708 or email [email protected] for more info. Keep up to date with ALTA on Fbook, Twitter and Instagram: ALTA.

Categories: Entertainment News

Happy birthday, USA

Lifestyle - Wed, 07/04/2018 - 00:51

The United States of America observes its 242nd year of Independence today and, to mark the auspicious occasion, chargé d’affaires John W McIntyre added an exotic touch to the celebrations when he hosted a Hawaiian themed reception at O2 Park, Chaguaramas on June 20.

On a night befitting the occasion, its live entertainment programme featured the Shara Sarab Dance Company doing Hula dancing with a dance-along for guests, Malick Folk Performers performing a well-received Limbo dance and the T&T Prison Band moving the crowd with a repertoire of Rock and Roll, R&R rhythms and popular calypsoes to keep the party swinging.

So, why is July 4 USA Independence some may ask? Well, celebrations take place on the fourth of July every year because it was on that date, in 1776, that Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence.

Beforehand, a motion for independence was put forward by Richard Henry Lee and was voted upon on July 1, 1776, when 12 of the 13 colonies voted in favour.

The official Declaration of Independence was then drafted by future president Thomas Jefferson.

Categories: Entertainment News

Nothing but the classics

Lifestyle - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 01:08

Renaissance Productions Company (RPC) hosted its Nothing But The Classics in Praise & Worship concert, last Friday evening at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s, and its turned out to be a successful venture.

Since its inception in the mid 80’s, RPC has been staging gospel theatrical productions annually. Driven by a consuming desire to effect change in the presentation of talents especially within the Christian genre, the company pioneered this level of performance within the Evangelical Church movement.

The evening’s presentation which featured dancing, gospel and instrumentals was enhanced by Trinidad-born, American virtuoso pianist, Llewellyn Peter who played a major role in arranging some of the classical pieces.


Categories: Entertainment News

Hearts beat together for Marionettes

Lifestyle - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 01:05

The Marionettes Chorales’ July 2018 concert series Hearts Beat Together 3 sees the renowned group take a message of love and unity to three churches between July 6 and 8. The concerts will take place at All Saint’s Anglican Church, Marli Street, Newtown on July 6, St Joseph’s Convent, Port-of-Spain on July 7 and St Mary’s Anglican Church Parish Hall, Tacarigua on July 8.

Saying the theme of the third Hearts Beat Together series is unity in a time of global disarray, Musical Director Gretta Taylor said: “With ego and materialism being the order of the day, we must unite in love for a common cause and work together to improve the world. The music weaves this theme throughout in a range of styles including classical, musicals, samba, calypso, gospel, spirituals, and pop and in several different languages including Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, French, Swahili, Latin, and Trinidadian Creole.”

Taylor said many of the songs speak to the ways people can try to make the world a better place. “The sheer beauty that surrounds us is being destroyed by greed. Through numbers like Life has loveliness to sell and I dream a world, we picture an ideal world and urge people to strive to attain it. Hatred and resentment must be replaced by love and caring.

“Songs like God help the outcasts, Scandalise My Name and Bohemian Rhapsody remind us that we must shield the innocents and the marginalised from resorting to drugs or suicide as a means of escaping the pain of abuse, exploitation and prejudice. We must believe in ourselves, recognise God-given talents and the positives within us, as celebrated in This is Me, Someone in the Crowd, You Gotta Be and This Little Light of Mine.”

Saturday’s concert at St Joseph’s Convent (SJC) also symbolises a return to the roots of the Chorale, which was formed 55 years ago by two SJC teachers, Jocelyn Pierre and June Williams-Thorne, who were looking to start a new choir which was to be the first choir formed in a newly independent T&T. For male choristers, Pierre turned to her counterpart at Fatima College, Father Tim Corcoran, and recruited graduates from his Dominic Savio choir and keen young voices from elsewhere.

In 1995, the Youth Chorale was formed—first as an all-female ensemble, comprising several SJC students who had studied under Gretta Taylor, and then later as a mixed voice choir. Together, the Marionettes Youth Chorale and Children’s Choir, formed in 2012, number nearly 100 singers from over 60 primary, secondary, and tertiary education institutions.

The concerts will feature some of the nation’s top soloists of all ages, including Hermina Charles, SJC alum Jacqueline Johnson, SJC student Dominique Akal, SJC St Joseph student Annalise Emmanuel, and several other first place and Championship winners from the last T&T Music Festival, including Camille Nicholas, Brendon John and Jake Salloum.

Proceeds will go towards the upgrade and restoration works of All Saints Anglican Church and the St Joseph’s Convent, Port-of-Spain, Chapel, and the construction of the Maloney Anglican Church.

BP T&T has sponsored the Marionettes since 1972. Joint Head, BP Group’s CEO’s Office, and former regional president, bpTT, Norm Christie, said, “the Marionettes is an example of enduring commitment and longterm impact. They have become an institution in Trinidad and Tobago by using music as a force for positive change. They reinforce the idea that music can bring together cultures and generations.”

Taylor said the choir is using its God-given talent to deliver the message that things can be turned around. “We can effect change with confidence, relying on spiritual support through faith in the Almighty. We praise God through both music and movement in numbers like Samba de las escrituras, Baba Yetu (Swahili for the Lord’s Prayer), and the Brazilian Salguiero.

“We love our country and we know that all can’t be gloom and doom. Festivity is second nature to us, and so we proclaim our messages through our own national music as well, with a sense of fun.”

Tickets for all shows cost $150.

Categories: Entertainment News

Theatre expert appointed to NCC board

Lifestyle - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 01:54

Last Friday, Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly presented a letter of appointment to Davlin Thomas, as Deputy Chairman of the National Carnival Commission (NCC) in a ceremony held at the Ministry’s head office.

Thomas, an Artistic Director, playwright and songwriter, has been involved in cultural productions for many years. He was the Artistic Director for Carifesta IX, as well as the presentation of El Cerro Del Aripo for Dimanche Gras 2010 and he also has first-hand experience in producing carnivals in Leeds in the United Kingdom and Amsterdam.

Minister Gadsby-Dolly congratulated Thomas on his appointment as NCC deputy chairman and noted that his experience will be an asset to the Carnival land scape.

The new Deputy Chairman sees his appointment to the board as an opportunity to be a positive influence in marketing of T&T’s Carnival. He said what he brings to the table is an understanding of how an epic production from the technical and theatrical perspective can benefit the country, region and world.

Categories: Entertainment News

Classical guitar to be showcased tomorrow

Lifestyle - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 01:52

Premiered last evening, Prelude – The Cuban Guitar will be repeated on Sunday, July 8, at Trinidad Theatre Workshop, 6 Newbold Street, St Clair.

This one-of-a-kind concert promises interested audiences a glimpse into the finesse and delicacy of guitar music. The concert features Cuban classical guitarist Ricardo Mateo Torres as well as local instrumentalists Keisha Martinez, Rellon Brown and Shurvone Brathwaite.

Concert organiser Alan Cooper said he has a deep fondness for the classical guitar, of which he himself is a practitioner, and he thinks T&T should see more of it. “To me, the guitar music of Venezuela, Brazil and Spain is among the most beautiful in the world,” said Cooper, “and some of that music will be featured in Prelude.

“The concert is simply enjoyable music that is very, very well played. It features selections mainly from Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and, of course, Cuba, which is central to this show. The music from these countries is rhythmic and syncopated, very much like our own Trinidadian music.

Therefore the public will be able to relate to it well. I think it will also be refreshing to hear new music played on an instrument seldom heard played in T&T in this way.”

Cooper said he met Mateo Torres at the 2018 Biennial Music Festival, where Cooper learned that he is temporarily stationed in T&T as a Christian missionary, working to improve religious music. “I also learned that Mateo Torres graduated with highest honours from the Superior Institute of Art, Havana, and was subsequently the Head of Guitar at the Conservatory in Las Tunas, Cuba, where he founded both philharmonic and guitar orchestras which won national acclaim,” said Cooper.

“Apart from his work as a classical guitarist, he has written and produced more than 15 CDs of inspirational praise and worship music, including songs which were hits in the Latin American diaspora in Ecuador, Miami and Canada. When I heard his music, I thought it was a pity to have someone of his musical experience, training and ability in T&T and not to expose him to the public.”

The three local artistes were chosen for their skill with their particular instruments. Cooper said: “Keisha is an excellent violinist whose skill is matched by her sensitivity as a performer. Mateo Torres selected her as his partner for the pieces because of her innate understanding of the particular pieces. Rellon is one of the most versatile trumpeters on the local stage.

“We wanted an instrument that could wake the audience up a bit, but we also needed a trumpeter who was sensitive and that was Rellon Brown. Rellon has also been to Cuba and feels a keen affinity for the country and its people so we thought he was a good fit for this collaboration.

Clarinetist Shurvone Braithwaite is a promising young musician whom I wanted to include in order to showcase his ability and he will be part of the second night of performance.”

Cooper said he and Mateo Torres wanted to put on a small show that required an audience to listen attentively and with intimacy. He said: “This concert helps to encourage an appetite for the classical guitar.

T&T does have a discerning musical audience that will appreciate the finesse and delicacy of guitar music as well as the skill required to perform it.

“We have had a Classical Guitar Society, the president of which was the late Dr Morgan Job. While the music may be considered ‘classical’, since it arises from Latin America, it easily mixes with and straddles the world of Cuban trova and son, both of which are folk styles in Cuba. There is also some impressionistic music. The Venezuelan music is vals criollo, or creole waltz, which in Trinidad we traditionally call the castellan. The Argentinian music is modern and lyrical but we will also present a popular tango.”

Cooper said a main reason for presenting this concert was wanting to honour the guitar for its part in T&T’s history. “It was perhaps the most important instrument to Trinidad’s pre-1930 history.

It was the instrument of our calypsos; it was essential to our parang; almost all of our folk songs would have featured the guitar.

It is truly an instrument of the people and it deserves to be heard more and to be heard played well. By contrast to Latin America, where the guitar tradition has been preserved, Trinidad seems to have forgotten the noble guitar.

To me, this concert elevates the guitar to its rightful place and remind us Trinidadians of another facet of ourselves.”

Tickets for next Sunday’s show cost $150 and can be purchased at Paperbased Bookshop, The Normandie Hotel, and, at the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, with discounts for TTARP members and UTT students.

Seating is limited but reservations can be made by calling 297-3820.

Categories: Entertainment News

Farewell to Florence and Mavis

Lifestyle - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 01:37

Last weekend, two dedicated women to the national cultural tapestry were laid to rest. Families and friends said farewell to Florence Watson (nee Lue Qui) and Mavis Lee Wah on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

A businesswoman, Watson was closely affiliated to Hadco Phase II Pan Groove, Desperadoes and Laventille Serenaders steel orchestra, while Lee Wah was an actress, director, schoolteacher, and the wife of National Drama Association of T&T (NDATT) founder James Lee Wah.

Last week, a musical tribute was held in Watson’s memory at the Wrightson Road compound of Cleveland and Allima Garcia in Portof- Spain, attended by approximately 200 of her family, friends and steelband folk.

Watson was always eager to assist Phase II arranger Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, the band’s management and musicians in the procurement of uniforms, flags and banners for the Panorama competition. She also assisted in the recruiting of flag women and banner-bearers. Speaking on behalf of the popular Woodbrook steelband, Lenny “Stretch” Tyson spoke glowingly of Watson.

Also speaking of Watson and her charitable nature were Pan Trinbago president Keith Diaz, Laventille Serenaders leader Anthony “Ben; Up” Kinsale, Odelia Garcia, Shasteen Najjar-Clarke and Allima Garcia.

Diaz revealed hos instrumental Watson was in assisting Pan Trinbago in shipping pan instruments abroad, to places like the US and Nigeria.

A very emotional Najjar-Clarke brought tears to the eyes of many as she itemised Watson’s influence on many in attendance.

Kinsale likened Watson to a mother to Serenaders, recalling how she always ensured that its pannists were impeccably attired for Panorama competitions,most times without the aid of sponsorship, or external funding.

Also seen at Watson’s tribute were producer/musician Carl “Beaver” Henderson, renowned La Danse Caraibe Artistic Director/Principal Heather Henderson-Gordon, Phase II Pan Groove manager Kerron Valentine and former Pan Trinbago executive member Keith St Cyr.

Cleveland Garcia, a former Portof- Spain Corporation councillor and Woodbrook/St James Community Association member, disclosed that Pan on D Avenue VII will be dedicated to the memory of Florence Watson.

In memory of Mavis

NDATT’s executive and membership extended condolences to the Lee Wah and Arscott families, Mavis being Jamaican-born and of the Arscott family.

NDATT Vice President Triston Wallace for the news of Lee Wah’s passing on his way to visit her at home with NDATT member Simeon Moodoo. He said: “I have been speaking with Mrs Lee Wah over the telephone for a few days now, with our last conversation being just two days ago [at the time of her passing on June 24]. Her voice was energised, seemed to be in high spirits and we were really looking forward to meeting each other. News of her death comes as a great shock.”

Other NDATT Members expressed their condolences and tributes. Said NDATT Trustee Nigel Scott: “I knew Mavis quite well. She did a show with us in Jamaica and when [Trinidad] Theatre Workshop used to tour in the 70’s. She was a lovely person.”

Playwright Zeno Constance added: “A true pioneer... and a giant in the field of theatre… Actress. Director. Administrator.”

Veteran thespian Michael Cherrie said: “[A] pioneer of theatre in Trinidad & Tobago together with her husband James Lee Wah...she was a tireless warrior...make new and wonderful vibrations in that new realm, Ma’am...Godspeed.”

Foreign-based actress Rhoma Spencer said: “Ohhh a theatre icon gone on to glory. May she rest in perfect sleep. I could see her now [in] The Importance of being Ernest. Quite a beautiful actor. Sad.”

Wallace, who met with the Lee Wah family last Tuesday to extend condolences on behalf of the NDATT, said: “It is unfortunate that we couldn’t have met under better circumstances. However, as the family responsible for us [NDATT] being here today, we are duty bound to assist the Lee Wah’s in whatever way we can in their time of need.

“The NDATT is grateful for Mavis Lee Wah’s contribution to theatre in Trinidad and Tobago and the region. We hope her legacy will continue and inspire others to follow in her footsteps.”

Categories: Entertainment News

Announcing the Reel Human Rights winners

Lifestyle - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 00:29

The trinidad+tobago film festival, in partnership with the Canadian High Commission, has announce the winners of the The Reel Human Rights on Film training programme. Filmmakers Siobhan Millette, Andrei Pierre and Francesca Hawkins will receive $5,000 CDN each. The three short completed films will be shown at ttff/18 in September.

In March 2017, the trinidad+tobago film festival partnered with the Canadian High Commission to present a script writing programme for 15 emerging filmmakers. The workshop was facilitated by Canadian film professional Annmarie Morais who continued to mentor the filmmakers throughout the year.

In March of this year, the same 15 filmmakers attended a two-day workshop on From Script to Pproduction. This was conducted by Film Board of Canada producer Selwyn Jacob, and also included presentations from specialists in human rights issues in order to assist the writers develop an approach to their topic. These filmmakers were then tasked to produce a script for a five minute short narrative or documentary film, on a human rights issue in T&T, or the wider Caribbean.

At the cheque presentation ceremony at the Canadian High Commission, High Commissioner Carla Hogan Rufelds, reiterated that Canada regards human rights as universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. She emphasised that human rights cinema plays an important role in the struggle for justice and dignity, speaking out against censorship and repression. She remarked that “this extremely powerful medium can touch and inspire audiences, challenging individuals to expand their knowledge and perspectives. It can also stimulate healthy dialogue, and ultimately, change.”

An important part of the ttff’s annual programme has been a strong lineup of films that focus on issues of gender inequality, children’s rights, issues impacting the LGBTQI community and other human rights and social and economic inequalities.

According to Annabelle Alcazar, programme director of the ttff: “This programme marries our interest in developing the skills of local filmmakers and writers, with advancing the conversations on human rights in Trinidad and Tobago. We were very excited about this project and we are pleased to see how the filmmakers rose to the challenge of using their artistic knowledge and skill to bring these important issues alive.”

The three successful filmmakers were jubilant about being able to realise their projects. According to Siobhan Millette: “I’m grateful that the Canadian High Commission has afforded me the opportunity to bring attention to one aspect of how these prejudices affect one of the many marginalised communities here in Trinidad and Tobago.

“Often late to the table, it is high time that all citizens are afforded equality and protection from discrimination, violence, unfair treatment and biases under the laws of our land.”

Andrei Pierre remarked on the advantages to his professional development: “This programme has given me robust legs to stand on as a filmmaker. I’ve been able to not just hone my craft, but now have an opportunity to prove it.

“I’m a grateful for the privilege to hold a lens to underrepresented communities and under-addressed issues in our culture, and help tell their stories responsibly and with due empathy.”

Francesca Hawkins complimented the partnership and initiative, saying: “Our names were removed from the submissions to ensure transparency in the judging process. This collaboration between ttff and the CHC has been extremely supportive of film development while also raising awareness on a variety of Human Rights issues in Trinidad and Tobago.”

The trinidad+tobago film festival celebrates films from and about the Caribbean and its diaspora, as well as from world cinema, through an annual festival and year-round screenings. In addition, the ttff seeks to facilitate the growth of Caribbean cinema by offering a wide-ranging industry programme and networking opportunities.

The ttff is given leading sponsorship by BP Trinidad and the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, supporting sponsorship by The National Gas Company of T&T and Republic Bank Limited and contributing sponsorship by FimTT.

Categories: Entertainment News

Alta student stories

Lifestyle - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 00:27

In celebration of Alta’s 25th anniversary, Alta students around the country were asked to write about the impact the organisation has had on their lives. Since 1992, Alta has provided classes around the country for thousands of Trinidadians who struggle with reading and writing.

Alta students enroll in the programme at many different levels of literacy and leave when they have accomplished their literacy goals.

While it is difficult to manage work and family life alongside Alta classes, students continue to persevere and in all cases see changes in their lives after attending Alta classes. In the coming weeks, Alta will share their pieces through this column. This week, three students from the Belmont venue share how Alta has impacted their lives.

Student name: Elicia

“I always wanted to have my own business but I do not have enough confidence to spell words properly. So Alta is a big step up in my life. I feel better coming to Alta to improve my reading, writing and speaking skills. Now I feel empowered to take part in any organisation and to speak in front of an audience.

I said this is my last chance. I was a bit ashamed but I have overcome it because I felt it was never too late to learn. It is a pity I did not get the help before but nothing happens before its time. I am not the only one struggling.

There are other students in the class trying to better themselves also. We can now take advantage of opportunities that might come our way in the future.”

Student name: Rondell

“I heard about Alta over and over on a radio in a car, while dropping off my son for his first day of preschool. It ran across my mind knowing that I can’t read or spell well. Studying how I played the fool in school and not taking interest in my work, I started to feel bad about myself.

I did nothing good with my life. I now have my king AKA my son and I am hoping that he does better in school. I did not have anyone to show interest in my school work, I intend to show that interest in my son’s school work.

I came to Alta to improve on my reading and spelling skills to help him.

I will love to do CXC English and UWI courses. You are never too old to improve yourself.”

Student name: Brian

“I didn’t finish school. During my attempt to read books or newspapers I had problems with words.

I wanted to improve my reading. When I heard about Alta classes that’s when I said to myself this is my chance. I signed up and since then I am able to sound and break up words.

This makes reading easier and fun. Now I can pick up those same books and read and understand. I feel better within myself and look PICTURE ALTA forward to completing Alta and signing up for CXC subjects.”

Volunteer, Donate or Sponsor-a-student. Call 621- 5708 or email [email protected] for more info. Keep up to date with ALTA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: ALTA

Categories: Entertainment News

Hadco Phase II performs on Sunday evening on the Avenue

Lifestyle - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 00:21

As phase one of the pilot of the Live Music District (LMD) draws to an end, the T&T Music Company Limited (MusicTT) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry, in collaboration with the Port-of-Spain City Corporation, will host its third Live on the Avenue event. Live on the Avenue III will take place on Sunday, July 1, at Adam Smith Square, Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook, from 4:30 pm.

Live on the Avenue III will close off phase one of the Live Music District with performances by Hadco Phase II Pan Groove and Nex Chapta.

The Live Music District, which launched in March 2018, has since provided local artistes with the opportunities to showcase their talent at various events and locations throughout the chosen phase one district, the City of Port-of-Spain. Registered artistes have performed in venues such as Radisson Hotel, Hilton Hotel, Smokey and Bunty, Kaiso Blues Café, Xperience Event Centre and the Avenue Pub House to name a few.

“The LMD Brand continues to grow in popularity as people recognise the possibilities that come with such an initiative,” says John Arnold, Chairman of MusicTT.

“Live music is a fundamental pillar of the music industry. The designation of creative, cultural and entertainment districts attracts visitors and therefore creates opportunities for jobs and revenue generation. The creation of a Live Music District is a key strategy which MusicTT undertook, through CreativeTT and the Ministry of Trade and Industry, in order to build and develop the local music industry and the country as a whole.”

The LMD brand has been associated with other local initiatives. The Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts has collaborated with the Live Music District to bring music to the public via the Live at Lunch series in Woodford Square and The Port-of-Spain City Corporation has also incorporated the Live Music District into its City Month celebrations via events such as Live at the Promenade, Live at the Gardens and Live at the Square.

The Live on the Avenue series is one of the most anticipated events under the Live Music District. The series incorporates live music performances by registered LMD artists and popular local steelpan bands; it not only showcases the talent of our home-grown artistes but, also, the national instrument.

Live on the Avenue premiered on Sunday, April 22, with performances by LMD artistes Sherisse Collymore, Chenko and Xone, and featured the 2018 National Panorama winner bpTT Renegades.

Live on the Avenue II followed on Sunday, June 10 and featured Desperadoes, CAL Skiffle and LMD artistes Full 100, Neisha Guy and Ms Renuka.

LMD’s phase two is scheduled to begin soon and will now include instrumentalists on the artist roster. Instrumentalists are encouraged to sign up online to be a part of the Live Music District.

To learn more about the Live Music District, or to sign up to the artiste roster, visit www.musictt.co.tt/LMD or follow MusicTT’s social media page: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @MusicofTT (Reporting by Peter Ray Blood)

Categories: Entertainment News

Project Charlo 3...a fund-raising success

Lifestyle - Wed, 06/27/2018 - 00:14

There was another shaking of the earth shook last Friday when Charlton “Charlo” Alfonso, recipient of a scholarship to Northern Illinois University, NIU, to pursuit a M.Mus. (Masters of Music degree), performed with friends during a fund-raising event entitled Project Charlo 3. The event was held at Nutrien Silver Stars Pan Theatre, in aid of offsetting Alfonso’s expenses and facilitating his transition and re-settling.

Alfonso would be studying under renowned Trinidadian native, steel pan artistry musician and NIU Presidential Research, Artistry, and Scholarship Professor Professor Liam Teague as he starts mid-August 2018 for the university’s Fall semester.

According to University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Titan Steel musical director Elizabeth DeLamater, “Professor Liam Teague is one of the finest steel pan players in the world. A true virtuoso,” and he can be credited for starting the first collegiate steel pan programme in the United States, at NIU.

Project Charlo fund-raising event engaged patrons with acts by Trap-Soca duo Yung Rudd and Marcus Braveboy who opened the show performing few of their popular singles, like Sunday Lunch and Pumpin. Next up was reggae sensation Nex Chapta performing One Day as well as other songs from its mixed repertoire.

Alfonso, after introducing his band Jaiso, delivered a ground-shaking, theatrical performance which had patrons fully entertained by this youthful aggregation.

Jaiso, as Alfonso explained in his introduction, is a unique group of talented young musicians, who like both jazz and kaiso. The band consists of Ruel Williams (keyboards); , Nick Thomas (drums); Dinelson Gulston (percussion); Lemuel Patterson (bass); Nathan Maxwell (trumpet); Johann Andrews (trombone); Irwyn Roach (alto saxophone); and, Anthony O’Connor (tenor saxophone).

Silver Stars also delivered its typical exceptional performance, while Oluseyi Bowen and his brother Osazé, aspiring dancehall/soca artistes, closed the show singing a few of his original tracks, as they, Alfonso and friends danced the night away.

The event was also attended by retired army Brigadier General Carl Alfonso, former Port-of-Spain Mayor and TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee as well as young budding artistes such as APA Vocal & Jazz Studio’s Samuel Thomas Jnr and Tehilla Jones’ family, friends and well wishers.

Categories: Entertainment News

Celebration of the Latin American guitar

Lifestyle - Wed, 06/27/2018 - 00:12

As the chosen instrument for old calypsos sung in French patois; for roving parranderos, as they serenaded house-to-house; and for church services in remote rural communities, the guitar has been indispensable to T&T, occupying some of the most influential spaces that shaped our cultural identity.

On Sunday, July 1, at 5 pm, Caribbean Culture Box (CCB) will host Prelude – the Cuban Guitar, a recital with Cuban concert guitarist, maestro Ricardo Mateo Torres. More than just a recital for guitar, Maestro Mateo will take listeners on a musical journey from Europe to South America and the Caribbean, settling in his homeland, Cuba, as described in sound by famed guitar composers such as Eduardo Martin and Leo Brouwer. This event will be held at the new Trinidad Theatre Workshop, 6 Newbold Street, St Clair.

Mateo Torres will share the stage with two luminaries from the local music soundscape: award-winning calypso-jazz trumpeter Rellon Brown and star violinist Keisha Martinez. Torres graduated with high honours from the Instituto Superior de Arte, Cuba, where he performed solo concerts ranging from traditional classical music to the more syncopated melodies from South America, with an emphasis on Cuban guitar. He has been described as an expressive performer whose innate musicality complements his virtuosity and an exceptional guitarist who “really makes the guitar speak,” and “whose expressiveness touches the soul.”

In a release to the media, CCB founder, Alan Cooper, shared that Trinidad was such an important venue for the guitar that in 1930, the famed Paraguayan guitarist, Agustin Pio Barrios “Mangoré” (1885-1944) gave a recital in Port-of-Spain on part of his tour through Venezuela, Colombia, Martinique, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Mexico. Cooper explained that, “Prelude both looks back to this glorious time in Trinidad’s musical history but also looks forward by presenting some modern and highly original works for the guitar. The recital is called Prelude because it is the inaugural event of CCB, a new company that will focus on small, high-quality performances.”

According to Mateo Torres, “For the recital we wanted an intimate venue that accommodates a small audience that can really appreciate the subtlety of acoustic guitar.”

Prelude – The Cuban Guitar has a repeat performance on Sunday, July 8, at the same venue, with the same 5 pm showtime.

General Admission is $150, but for UTT Students, members of the T&T Music Festival Association and members of TTARP will be offered tickets at a discounted price of $125. Seating is limited.

To reserve tickets and for more information, call 297 3820, email [email protected] or go to https://www.facebook.com/CultureBoxCarib/

Categories: Entertainment News

Life is a series of fluctuations

Lifestyle - Wed, 06/27/2018 - 00:10

“We teach competitiveness at every level of life. Never cooperation. Never getting along.

Cradle to grave is dog-eat-dog.

Win or lose. Mines not yours. I better than you. I deserve, you don’t. I get, is you to ketch. Sow the wind. Reap the whirlwind.”

That was author Barbara Jenkins, just over a week ago, responding to a post about another mother who was murdered. It felt like such a great summary of my frustrations with how callous we continue to be and become in T&T. It capsuled all the emotions I felt/ feel and highlighted most of the underlying elements I have entertained about how and why we are so judgmental and increasingly wicked as a people.

It took me hours to remember to which posts Jenkins was responding so I could quote her. About 1.30 am Monday, long after busting my deadline, I finally remembered that the way to find anything on Facebook to which you have reacted is to use the Activity Log feature.

That exercise in itself made the point about the point I’m here to make: Life is a series of fluctuations. There was a time I was so “sharp,” I could not imagine such an obstacle to my schedule. Now, I tire easier, forget more, and have delayed synapses in many situations, all which came much easier before, but now demand that I work harder to remain focused.

When, or if we realise and accept how circular and cyclical life is, and how someone else’s today’s circumstance can be ours tomorrow, I wonder, would we temper our desire to be judgmental?

Someone said to me I was being a bit harsh when I described us in T&T as Cretans.

I came upon the reference in the Bible decades ago, where the Apostle Paul, in instructing Titus on the administration of the First century church, and the particular issue of the Cretans’ character, wrote: “Cretans are always liars, brutes and lazy gluttons.”

Paul had quoted Epimenides of Gnossus, a seventh-century BC poet; a Cretan himself who characterised his people this way. There were others who made the same observations about the people on the island of Crete.

And so, for about a decade of T&T’s decadence, debauchery and large-scale derision, I have been harbouring that reference.

Then I voiced it in response to my bewilderment about how callous, murderous, and desensitised we are becoming as a population.

And, of course, it is the minority of us in some of these negatively characterising behaviour, but consider that when another country puts out a warning to citizens about T&T they never take time to speak of how beautiful most of us are. We are characterised by the prevalent or perceived prevalent behaviour.

Some of this current conduct work to promote long-standing prejudices. And in the case of myths and misunderstandings about mental wellbeing, given the abundance of access to so many fora for discussion, and so little educating, there is a feeling that the ignorance is being compounded.

Our desire to be better than the other, as Jenkins stated, is to me one of the most brutish behaviour. It is not that we are really attempting to be better, at times, but wholly trying to ensure we ill speak, debase, and ridicule others to the place where, in our clouded judgment, we appear better.

To my mind, that manner we seem to be adopting, which rushes to waylaying anything we feel free to deride, suggests we easily forget life is a fluctuation; that today’s fortune could be tomorrow’s sorrow; that today’s wellbeing can be tomorrow’s ill health; that the rain falls on the good and evil; that what eh meet you eh pass you; that “one day one day congotay” is an everybody adage.

We need to unlearn the belief that there is a “fine line” between sanity and insanity.

Life itself is the fine line on which exists various stages of sanity and on which anyone can find themself at any point.

Mental wellbeing, similar to the ups and downs of life, is a fluid state. Today’s circumstance of good wellbeing can easily be erased by a moment of grief, hurt, or any kind of trauma internal or external. And we can recover and again be derailed by another of life’s fluctuations.

When or if our wellbeing is better than another person, that is never a reason to gloat over the other’s misfortune. Reflecting on the opening of this piece though, I despair for the change that is necessary.

I feel our humanity slipping away without sufficient efforts at the individual and national levels to take the bite out of our judgmental attitude, as we “sow the wind and reap the whirlwind” where we need to sow love, peace, empathy, and sympathy and reap positive benefits.

Caroline C Ravello is a strategic communications and media professional and a public health practitioner. She holds an MA with Merit in Mass Communications (University of Leicester) and is a Master of Public Health With Distinction (UWI). Write to: [email protected]

Categories: Entertainment News

By striving you shall conquer

Lifestyle - Mon, 06/25/2018 - 01:02

Fatima College Decade Two Past Pupils Group (1955-1964) in a historic, but very simple and informal function, recently paid tribute to one of its peers, Integrity Commission (IC) chairman Melville Baird.

Held at the secondary school they all once attended decades ago, the ceremony began with Holy Mass celebrated by school principal Fr Gregory Augustine and a reading by Felix Rivers in the Chapel followed by a small reception at the College Hall in Mucurapo.

Mass began with a short welcome speech by current President of the Fatima Old Boys Association (FOBA) Ruthven Thompson who thanked the Decade Two boys (men now) for the opportunity to be a part of such a revolutionary innovation. Master of ceremonies Winston “Brando” Thomas gave a synopsis of Baird’s college life, punctuated with wily humour.

It was the turn of childhood friend Alec Clarke to give an abbreviated version of Baird’s many life accomplishments—from lawyer to magistrate, Senior Magistrate, Chief Magistrate, High Court Judge and the crown of his accomplishments, Judge of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, in the Netherlands.

“When we thought Melville was done, he was appointed Chairman of the IC,” said Clarke.

Tributes by Baird’s former class mates came from Curtis Williams and former banker Kenny Joseph. The highlight of the afternoon saw veteran journalist Vernon Khelawan present Baird with a small award—a narrow crystal award emblazoned with the College logo and the Latin slogan of the college “nintendo vinces” meaning “by striving you shall conquer.”

In response, Baird, using his high but customary lexicon said: “To be the recipient of encomiums, laudations and recognition from you, my college friends, my classmates, my peers, for my judicial career and my present appointment… is an experience that is at once humbling and exhilarating.”

He thanked the men for their devotion, their loyalty and love.

The vote of thanks was given by Dr Alvin Ashton and then the entire group, led by Carl Carmino, stood for the singing of the Fatima College song.

There was one exception; the song was non-existent in the era of Decade Two, so there were many silent voices. Then the bacchanal started—drinks and food “fuh so,” prepared by another Fatima old boy Carl Randoo. To use the cliched phrase, “A good time was had by all.”


Categories: Entertainment News

BIG rock concert comes to Trinidad

Lifestyle - Mon, 06/25/2018 - 00:59

Local rock fans are gearing up for the arrival of two of the biggest rock bands ever to perform in T&T, 311 and Daughtry! The bands will be co-headlining one of T&T’s biggest ever modern rock concerts on July 30 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port-of Spain.

The event, which also features guest artists jointpop and Skid Nevely, is being produced by Paramita International Distribution Limited (PIDL).

Managing Director Vishesh RamSingh said this is the first time the two bands will be coheadlining an event together.

“That in itself was one of the factors in both bands agreeing to this big show in Trinidad,” said Ramsingh, “because it is such an opportunity for them to play together where chances are they would never have been billed together on tour. While both bands fall under the modern rock banner, they have two different styles, they’re both well-respected and they’re at the top of their games right now.”

He said PIDL is trying to appeal to a broader market by bringing in both bands. “We’re seeing a lot of men on our Facebook page very pumped about 311 but certainly any woman of any background that I’ve interacted with is dying to see Chris Daughtry.

“We will get Daughtry fans and 311 fans independently and of course there will be a cross-section of both in the middle that will appreciate both. So hopefully everyone leaves having a good time and maybe have earned a little bit of respect for the other band at the same time.”

Ramsingh said the local guest bands, jointpop and Skid Nevely, were for him the obvious choices to be booked for the concert. “If had to pick a band to really be the voice or the leader if you will of the local rock scene, I think it would be jointpop hands down.

I don’t think they’ve been given the right opportunities over the years to have their music showcased and it was a no-brainer to pick them because they just released their new album about a month ago. 

“Skid Nevely maybe would represent another generation, maybe half a generation under jointpop, but they’ve had radio success and what I like about them for this show in particular is that they offer another different form of rock and roll.”

RamSingh said this is the beginning of an aggressive campaign on the part of PIDL, a familyowned company which has been responsible for bringing acts like Amita Bachan, Julio and Enrique Iglesias and many others to T&T since the 80’s.

“We started shifting into the marketing and distribution sector over the years as a result of what we see is a crying need for international talent coming to our shores.

“We felt that now was the right time to have the marketing department of TIDL use our experience in the promotion sector to start bringing international bands back to Trinidad shores.

“We want to stick to authentic bands, not the tribute bands which we’ve been seeing in Trinidad over the years, I think Trinidad deserves a lot more than that. This is the first of many shows we have planned over the next three years.”

Ramsingh said he believes there’s enough of a market in Trinidad to make the show successful, as the company is looking at building towards a Festival-level event during the summer, “where we can incorporate a lot more of our local talent to play alongside this international talent and you never know what could happen.

“Suppose one of our local acts gets recognised and it catches the ear of some of the international acts that we bring? That could always help to encourage arts in Trinidad.

Musicianship is always a great thing that we’ve always supported and youth need music, youth need art.”

Ramsingh said he also feels that Trinidad needs an event like this at this time to remind people that “we can’t let what’s happening in Trinidad make us feel like we have to lock up in our homes. Sometimes you have to go out and enjoy yourself.”

He said although all the bands fall under the modern rock banner, the audience will get a taste of different styles all the way through. “Skid Nevely, who will be opening the show, incorporates steel pan into their Rock music, so you’ll have a sort of a Caribbean style rock mixed with punk influences. jointpop crosses all barriers in terms of style, then we have Daughtry which is more of a streamlined modern rock sound and then we have 311 which is like a roots rock reggae kind of sound, so we get all bases of rock covered that night. It should be a good show for everyone.”

Categories: Entertainment News

More rules for Point Fortin J’Ouvert

Lifestyle - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 23:27

Stricter rules for Point Fortin J’Ouvert bands will be in force for 2019. Bandleaders will be expected to display creativity without the use of oil, paint, grease or powder, according to John Springle, chairman of Point Fortin’s Dock of The Bay Sports and Cultural Club, organisers of the J’Ouvert parade for the annual Point Fortin Borough Celebrations.

Speaking at the prize-giving ceremony for bands, at the Borough Town Hall on Sunday June 10, Springle said his organisation wants to maintain the goodwill of the people of the southern borough. There were several complaints about buildings and vehicles being sprayed with paint. The organisers want to ensure vehicles and buildings are left untouched, and that on-lookers can enjoy the parade without getting soiled.

Springle added that the Borough Corporation has started requesting a contribution to help with post J’Ouvert cleaning up.

Springle also said the organisers were thinking about establishing a second judging point to lengthen the parade route. At present, the only judging point is located at the Atlantic Building on Adventure Road. This year 38 bands participated in the parade and 29 crossed the judging point.

Prizes were distributed to the top five bands. In first place was Mango Season by the band Country Bookie, and in second place was Puncheon Boys’ presentation of More Fire. Third place went to Wild Wild West by Good Girls, Bad Boys; fourth place was filled Just Illusion’s Showtime; and, in fifth place was Madi Gras by Radical Promotions.

The Ole Mas competition was won by John Paul for the presentation To Hell and Back.

Categories: Entertainment News

People with intellectual disabilities benefit from Digicel workshop

Lifestyle - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 23:26

One hundred educators and caregivers are closer to understanding the dynamics of Behaviour and Occupational Therapy for people with disabilities, after participating in a two-day workshop hosted by the Digicel Foundation Trinidad and Tobago, in partnership with the A&C Foundation out of Ireland, last month, at Signature Hall, Chaguanas.

The two-day workshop was designed to wrap up the three-year intervention in 15 schools and organisations that cater to persons with intellectual disabilities, examine the successes, findings and opportunities for peer learning and discuss public sector involvement with an aim to making the initiative more sustainable.

While the audience anxiously awaited training in effective classroom management, behavioural assessment, token economies, self-management, sensory processing disorders and handwriting strategies, many commented on the innovation of including two panel discussions which allowed parents to get a “seat at the table” to mull over public sector processes and opportunities.

The two panel discussions, themed Connecting Your Needs and An Intervention That Works, allowed participants to take a deep dive into issues surrounding accessing public services and support, while discovering initiatives that can lead to holistic development.

On day two, the room came alive as Occupational Therapist Mohan Gopaul and Behaviour Analyst Shannon Eidman facilitated interactive sessions, sharing information on techniques and strategies to advance the quality of life for children with disabilities. One parent expressed, “This was a great session, I learned a lot and I am encouraged to see what was presented to me, thank you Digicel Foundation—keep making this investment in special education.”

The foundation invested US $17,000 in the two-day workshop.

In fact, the Trinidad foundation has spent the past six years supporting projects that advance the lives of persons with special needs. Programmes with a focus on sport for development, inclusion, sex and sexuality and disaster preparedness, are just a few of the areas the foundation has made an impact over the years.

The therapy–based education programme was conceptualised in 2014, after feedback from teachers and caregivers showed that a significant intervention was needed in the area of special education with a focus on therapy. The programme took a multifaceted approach to education for persons with intellectual disabilities, and after an investment by the foundation of US$264,000 over the past three years, 15 schools, 884 students, and 158 teachers have benefited.

The first-of-a-kind programme was done in three phases and included the development of therapy rooms, procurement of therapy equipment and ICT to assist with the sustainability of the intervention.

Penny Gomez, CEO Digicel Foundation T&T said of the event, “The workshop is the culmination of three years of investing in a cross section of the population that needs special attention if we are to create a world where no one is left behind.

“The foundation, through this intervention continues to answer the call from stakeholders to connect them to experts in the field to acquire knowledge, receive practical training and through the supply of specialised equipment, to aptly teach the ones in their care in turn.”

Categories: Entertainment News


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