Where do children play?

Monday, August 13, 2012    

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THERE could be more offerings in the area of theatre productions for children, as least if two producers have their way.

For Kerine Miller and Damian Radcliffe, the absence of material for the younger market segment has led them to producing material with this group in mind.

Miller, who mounted her children's pantomime, The Gem, earlier this year, notes that it was the fire and excitement that she witnessed from the youngsters during previous productions which spurred her into action.

" I also realised that there was not much entertainment geared specifically towards children. I decided to create the pantomime because I wanted a production for children that would not only be entertaining, but would also impart a positive message that they could take with them through life. The content needed to be specifically for the children so that parents could also feel comfortable sending their kids to watch," she noted.

For Radcliffe, however, whose Independent Actors Movement produces the series -- The Anancy Chaptaz -- it was more about continuing a cultural legacy.

"I had many stories to tell, and I really wanted to tell Anancy stories seeing that his stories where some of the funniest I heard growing up. I also felt that the children audience didn't have a local hero presently nor theatrical entertainment. Additionally, Anancy was being shoved aside for the likes of Harry Potter."

Despite their good intentions, both Miller and Radcliffe found the going got even tougher as they sought to obtain sponsorship to mount their respective productions.

Miller notes: " I think that as much as Jamaica talks about how much we love our kids, not many people or companies seem willing to finance projects like this. We approached so many companies who thought it was a great idea but didn't see it fitting in with their vision for their target audience, or didn't think there were enough opportunities and benefits."

Radcliffe credits the skill of improvisation, or as he puts it, to "tun wi han' mek fashion", as being the force behind making the project a reality. The Anancy Chaptaz has seen two stagings. In 2011 the series commenced with Di Beginnin, which won the Actor Boy Award for Best Children's Theatre Production. This year's instalment was Gold Rush.

He is however not daunted as plans are in place to continue the series for at least another 10 years with each annual production running during the month of May which is observed as Child Month.

Miller is also not quite ready to throw in the towel either. She notes that based on the overwhelming response to The Gem, and the lack of quality entertainment for the nation's children, she has already began making her plans for the staging of another children's production, which should hit the stage next year.



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