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I have seen evidence of obeah

Final instalment in the Autobiography of Leonie Forbes

Monday, October 01, 2012    

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WE had to examine the business of obeah. I believe but I don't believe. I don't think I would be going off to an obeah man to do anything I don't want - to have a bath or anything - but at the same time I am not prepared to dismiss obeah, because I have seen evidence of it. I have had weird experiences myself so I'm sort of a believing unbeliever, or maybe a believing non-practitioner.

I spent hours with Trevor Rhone going into this. Even the chant at the end - he never told us until either very close to opening night or after opening night that it was in fact a real one from somewhere in Africa. And one of the things that happened was we noticed when we started playing - the first month or so - that the play more or less worked but something wasn't quite right, till Charles Hyatt said: "Look, the circle is going the wrong way." And we said: "Come, Charlie, how can it be going the wrong way?"And he said: "The circle going the wrong way. Check it." We changed the direction we were going, and believe me, after that, the thing took off.

It's one of those things I will never be able to explain, I don't think. If you look at the text and you look at what we do, there isn't very much there, and yet people got absolutely spellbound, and we got carried away. I used to be as cold as ice while they were trying to get out the devil. It was a weird experience.

Coming to terms with Miss Aggy and Pa Ben, getting rid of ourselves, Charles and I used to find that we needed all of two hours on performance day. We used to arrive within minutes of each other, roughly two and a half hours before the show began, and we would start talking, not as Leonie and Charlie but as Pa Ben and Miss Aggy, and whatever we related about the day, whether it was at JBC or the Carib or the market, it was related to those two people. And we found that by the end of the period we were ready.

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