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Paul Keens-Douglas and friends talk 'dis and dat'
On June 9, Keens-Douglas leads a small cast of orators in Talk Bout Dis, Talk Bout Dat. The show is described as a "close-up" with Keens-Douglas featuring Avion Crooks as Tanti Merle and special guest Farida Chapman at the Kaiso Blues Cafe, 85 Woodford Street, Newtown, Port-of-Spain.
One of the few remaining storytellers performing on stage today, Keens-Douglas' brand of talk remains firmly rooted within wholesome family entertainment and, for him, is the way in which our citizens continue to communicate our history and our values.
With memorable, character-driven narratives such as Tanti at De Oval, Vibert, Sugar George, Bobots, Slim and Tall-Boy, and Tingalae, Keens-Douglas has, through the art of storytelling, illustrated the Caribbean soul and spirit and immortalised it.
"The oratory tradition is something that is intrinsic in West Indian people. We love to share experiences and we love to hear ourselves speak," said his son and Keensdee Productions team member, Johann Keens-Douglas via email.
"We see storytelling used in modern advertising to capture the attention of an audience and deliver a message in an interesting and interactive way. The art form has taken a new shape in the digital arena, with spoken word being the medium for the younger generation expressing themselves on the online platforms."
Paul Keens-Douglas has been writing and performing since 1974. His official biography describes him as having become a leading exponent of the oral traditions of which his annual Tim Tim Show and Carnival Talk Tent have become hallmarks.
Within his extensive body of work, he has published nine books, recorded 16 CDs and been featured in three DVDs. He also continues to perform live on stage and carries the same vivacity and dynamism of his past iconic performances.
With the help of his son and other members of his production team, Paul Keens-Douglas has also embraced the digital age with his presence established on social media networks such as Facebook. A concern for his team remains the content of the message rather than the channels through which it is delivered.
"We see the rise of the continuing story using live social media outlets to form an ongoing narrative," explained Johann. "So, yes, the storytelling is still important, but we must ensure that we are sending the right message."
Farida Chapman is a poet and dramatist who has been part of the Talk Tent cast for the past 13 years. Avion Crooks is a storyteller and actress who has performed in plays such as The Poui Tree, Sangre Grande By Two and Madame Cazabon On Verandah. She has been a Talk Tent regular for the past four years. She also does work as a magazine editor and writes with a focus on humorous short stories.
"Although an independent production from Talk Tent, Talk Bout Dis, Talk Bout Dat seeks to showcase the oral tradition in the very same way," said Johann.
"This show is an opportunity to interact with the artist up close and personal where the artist can be more expressive and conversational as compared to the Talk Tent shows where his time is limited and he shares the stage with ten other artists."
Within the promotion for the show, the statement "Support the Shows that Support the Values" is featured prominently. This philosophy, Johann explained, is the core of his father's approach to his artistic expression.
"Paul Keens-Douglas has always taken pride in putting on a good, clean show. 'Support the Shows that Support the Values' means coming to shows with a message, that do not offend, disrespect or discriminate. Our shows have and will never showcase acts that use offensive language, or discriminatory and perverse subject matter."
He added, "(We put on a show) that the entire family can enjoy. Something special, unique and wholesome that will make you laugh out loud, but also stop and think. Storytelling and the oral traditions were intended to inspire, educate and record the history and the values of generations past. Now more than ever, these are the shows that we need to support."
The show's themes will range from national pride, sports and politics to health, travel, current social issues, all delivered in a variety of oral spoken expression from poetry and monologue to dramatisation, commentary and traditional storytelling.
"While the show is family-friendly, the topics may be better appreciated by the young adult to older audience," said Johann. He also reminded the potential audience the venue is a bar and does sell alcohol. Paul Keens-Douglas' books and CDs will be available for purchase at the event.
More info: Search @pkeensdouglas on social media or call 632-1647 for more information.
Janine Charles-Farray is a publicist and entertainment writer.
The oratory tradition is something that is intrinsic in West Indian people. We love to share experiences and we love to hear ourselves speak.
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