New ‘Chapta’ in Anancy SERIES

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, May 06, 2014    

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FOLLOWING their wins at this year's Actor Boy Awards, the producers of the 'Anancy Chaptaz' series are pumped and ready for the May 31 opening of the fourth instalment Anancy Chaptaz: Monkey Bizniz.

Damion Radcliffe of the Independent Actors Movement, which stages the series, notes that the energy is high among the cast which numbers close to 30 with ages ranging from 12-17 years.

Radcliffe and his team began Anancy Chaptaz four years ago as a means to bring wholesome family entertainment to the Jamaican stage.

"At the time it started, little was being done for children/family entertainment. With the exception of the National Pantomime, everything on stage was of an adult nature. This contrasts with what happened in the past when there was a high level of children's entertainment," Radcliffe explains.

The desire to bring back entertainment to the stage for the younger market segment was heightened in Radcliffe following a trip to London where he had the opportunity to see both The Lion King and War Horse in stage in that city.

"I was so inspired and used this as an opportunity to share stories which had been swirling in my head for some time. Furthermore, we were being eclipsed by the likes of Harry Potter and Twilight and there was nobody doing anything that was culturally relevant."

Radcliffe also sought to put a positive spin on the traditional Anancy character which is historically known for being a trickster, making him funny and likeable.

The series would start with Anancy Chaptaz: Di Beginning in 2011 followed by Gold Rush in 2012 and the multi-Actor Boy-winning Winners' Circle last year. Plans are already underway for Firestorm which will be the 2015 production.

"Each of the 'Chaptaz' stands on its own," Radcliffe explains. "But there are some recurring characters -- Anancy, Tella the ancestral spirit and story teller, and the duo of Royal and Big Head. People just love them and so we keep them coming back.

Monkey Bizniz, which will play at the School of Dance theatre at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, connect various Jamaican proverbs and, according to Radcliffe, takes and interesting look at how human intervention affects nature.

The production runs for eight shows from May 31 to June 1, and June 7 and 8.





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