On Thursday, February 8, at 8:00 pm, the Centre Culturel Sonis (Sonis Cultural Center) in Les Abymes hosted “Ti-Jean et la Parade des diables” (Ti-Jean and the Parade of devils) by the Gran Bwabwa theater company. This show populated by giant puppets and masks was inspired by Caribbean tales. The many children were delighted and the adults were transported back to their childhood.
Despite the bad weather, street theater enthusiasts wanted to be present that night at the Centre Culturel Sonis to see the play “Ti-Jean et la Parade des diables” (Ti-Jean and the Parade of devils). The various characters, among them Pap Nikolasenk, Nabot Léon, Jénéral Chaloska and Lulu Cifer, arrived in music on the esplanade to the applause of the spectators. The very well known percussionist, Klod Kiavué, who is the musical director of the play, showed the public his acting skills. It must be said that at his side was the brilliant actress Carole Raboteur whose beautiful voice totally enchanted the crowd. These two storytellers or “masters of ceremonies” were responsible for transporting the audience to this imaginary world populated by masks, giant puppets, various and very scary characters then, they slipped away.
Ti-Jean, beautifully played by the young actor Iseyonn Kiavué, came on stage to confront all these strange creatures… Unfortunately, that was the moment the rain invited itself on the esplanade of the Centre Culturel Sonis and, after a very short break, the play continued in the hall of the building to the delight of the audience.
This place was well chosen by the Center’s management because the spectators who were on the first-floor balcony enjoyed a beautiful view. This small trouble did not disturb the amateur actors of the company – some of whom are very young – who gave the best of themselves to maintain the quality of the show.
A play anchored in the Caribbean imagination
The Gran Bwabwa theater company describes the world of this play as “baroque and unconventional, deeply rooted in the tradition and imagination of the Greater Caribbean, colorful and with strong voices, which questions History, the symbolic violence and the memory of the dark times of slavery”. To write this work, Nathalie Malot, the artistic director of Gran Bwabwa, was inspired by the Caribbean tales in particular those collected by the journalist and writer of Irish then Japanese nationality, Lafcadio Hearn, when he stayed in Martinique from 1889 to 1891 and the book “Ti-Jean and his Brothers” (written in 1958 and published in French in 1997) by Saint Lucian Derek Walcott, Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992.
Through this event, the Kanaoa Production association which was created in 2004 and manages the Gran Bwabwa theater company, was able to show people its artistic know-how and its social commitment.
Indeed, the giant puppets and papier-mâché masks of the play “Ti-Jean et la Parade des diables” were made during a job integration workshop. In addition, some masks were made by inmates of the Baie-Mahault prison.
Last year, this street play was presented in the communes of Sainte-Anne and Le Moule and at the Memorial ACTe but it would deserve to be performed in other Caribbean islands and why not, in major national festivals like the “Festival d’Avignon”.