Jean and Dinah
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Jean and Dinah
Who Have Been Locked Away in a World Famous Calypso Since 1956 Speak Their Minds Publicly
Published:
10/24/2002
Format:
Perfect Bound Softcover
Pages:
112
Size:
5x8
ISBN:
978-0-75968-797-4
Print Type:
B/W

‘Jean and Dinah, Rosita and Clementina
Round the Corner Posing,
Bet your life is something they selling . . .’
- The Mighty Sparrow -

Jean and Dinah . . . orchestrates itself out of the calypso Yankees Gone also known as Jean and Dinah, sung by the Mighty Sparrow in 1956. This calypso was a male response to the influence of the occupying Yankees on local girls in the post World War II period. The play is a tragi-comedy set in present-day Port-of Spain, Trinidad, in Act One, then in Act two, the characters take us some 40 years back to their theatre of the streets of Port of Spain.

It is Jouvay morning, the dawn of Carnival Monday and Jean comes to take her friend, Dinah, to play mas (masquerade) in the city as they have done for the past forty years. This year, however, Dinah is tired and ailing and does not want to go. Jean tries desperately to rally her into making their annual pilgrimage through the streets where they play sailor mas on Carnival Tuesday.

In the ensuing battle to get Dinah out of bed onto the streets of Port of Spain, both women discover things about themselves that shaped their lives. This play gives the women in Sparrow’s calypso a voice. Their stories take us on an emotional roller coaster of laughter, pain and sorrow.

"Tony Hall’s play Jean and Dinah . . . is one of the finest pieces of West Indian theatre I have seen in years-- it--never surrenders its raw, poignant humour, its rhythm that mimics that of Carnival music, and when I saw it performed by two excellent actresses I felt continuous astonishment, delight and pride."

Derek Walcott, Nobel Laureate
March 8, 1997.

 

"It not only succeeds, it triumphs by committed, at times inspired acting and play and poise by Rhoma and Penelope Spencer."

Earl Lovelace, Novelist
Trinidad Sunday Express, December 11, 1994.

 

Jean and Dinah is lively, amusing and often touching, with some powerful moments.

Judy Raymond, Journalist
Trinidad Express, December 7, 1994.

 

The context of the play commands Caribbean, but especially Trinidadian, jamette history - all those who live below the diameter of respectable society. Badjohns such as Mastife, Batonier and Hannibal, and legendary women of the streets such as Alice Sugar and Boadicea (Bodi) are invoked as part of its natural landscape. Creole language is also interestingly utilized, commanding calypso as poetic and literary referential points along with Shakespeare and the Romantics.

Rambai Espinet, Poet

Toronto, August 2001.

BABY DOLL (The Pink Side)

Jean slowly puts on her pink Baby Doll headgear very slowly and painstakingly. She turns to the audience and takes up her shoebox. She moves in to the audience and uncovers the shoebox. She rests the cover down and takes the broken, wooden dolly out of the box. This scene is done as if an audience has gathered on the pavement to hear her.

JEAN: You know this child? This child is six months old. You never pass to see the child.

Since it born, you never bring nothing for the child. He? Wait, that is your wife? Madam, this is your husband? Well this child belong to you too, you know. This is your husband’s child. Yes, your husband Mr. X from Bayshore. This child resemble you, you know. Look at the eye, nose, look at the lip. But, why you wouldn’t support the child? You know what I going through to support this child? You breed me and you leave me. The child is yours, paternity test or no paternity test. Ah don’t want to hear. He find he self in my yard, night after night. Now, tell me? What Mercedes doing in my yard? Eh?

I is a woman like my sleep. I clean out people house in the day and wash their clothes. When night come, I may go by the club a little but after that I home. Mr. Benz find he self outside my window. Mr. Cecil Brown Skin Blank Cheque Esquire climb up my board house to find his ecstasy. He come by me quick, quick, quick and gone.

He ent know how child stand up, how child navel string drop. Ent know nothing, nothing at all. But you don’t know who I is? Look at me well, look at me. Well, I descend from the seed of Petite Belle Lily and Alice Sugar The Former. I trod the centuries from Na Na Yah come down. I is woman. Watch form. Ebony. From that one seed, I stand up. I grow to these proportions.

I see, it is this same boy who break in your house and tie up you and your wife and your little daughter and hold gun to your mouth, between your teeth. He is your son. But you don’t know him. Because you never take care of him. You never come to see him. Now he grow like a man, he doesn’t listen to me. So is jail and courthouse for him. Listen, he will terrorise you till you own up. He ent fraid the hangman cemetery, he is my son. He ent need no human right. You hang him now you need human rights. He is my son, he is your son, and you will have more and more sons to hang, necks to pop. You ask me? Mark what I tell you. Watch me good!! Watch me good!! Madam talk to him and if he know what good for him he will get to know his children, support the children.

I know. I could put your foot before, behind, you know. I could take away what God give you, you know. And even what he didn’t give you. So hear me! Hear me! Listen to me well! Listen to my prophecy! It will come to pass. I is Jean. "Jean In Town" and if "Jean In Town" say so, is so! And if you don’t want to heed I will go down deep in the bowels of hell and throw some devil shit on you. So watch it! Watch it!

(Jean exits.)

 

Tony Hall is a playwright and actor who has worked extensively in Western Canada and with the Trinidad Theatre Workshop. He has also worked with Banyan Limited in developing television for the Caribbean. In 1990, Tony and Errol Fabien launched The Lordstreet Theatre Company with the jouvay mas A Band on Drugs. Mr. Hall has been Visiting Artist in Residence at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut since 1998.

 
 


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