Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Boos at Kings final

Boos and accusations of thievery were hurled at the judges upon the announcement that Jhawhan Thomas had beaten Curtis Eustace into second place at the National King of Carnival finals.

Not that the audience did not appreciate Thomas' presentation of "Pandemic Rage" from Brian MacFarlane's Earth-Cries of Despair Wings of Hope, but they were so enamoured by Eustace's "Chromatic Chaos" that they believed he was the winner hands down. The judges, however, thought differently.

Jhawhan scored 431 points for his performance that featured the stilted costume emitting a reddish-orange smoke with a strange odour in keeping with the costume's theme of a creature created by man's maltreatment of the earth. Highlights of yellow fabric had also been added to the thorax of the costume. At one point it seemed that the costume, which had fallen after it crossed the stage at the semi-final, was about to topple over. MacFarlane's crew came fast to the rescue assisting Jhawhan to make it safely off the stage and dismount from the costume.

Eustace took the stage to loud cheers and as he neared its centre the noise increased as the patrons observed the two additional moveable arms that had been added to the costume. The main stage lights came on too quickly though denying the audience the pleasure of seeing the effect created by the reflective diffusing of the red, blue and yellow gel lights on the costume. Disappointment was clearly etched on Eustace's face following the results. He told the Express he was shocked, but would not raise any objections. "That's how it is in this place. I just have to take that," Eustace said.

Susanne Low won the Queen of Carnival title with her costume, "Yemanja-Orisha Goddess of the Seas" from the presentation Nautica by Trevor Wallace and Associates. She scored 413 points for her performance. Second place with a score of 401 points was claimed by Lenore Caterson who portrayed "Peesunt the Daughter of Chief Kitwanga" from the band D Midas Associates, while Tamara Alleyne-Gittens placed third scoring 396 playing "A Splash of Scandal" from Evolution.

Wayne Bowman wbowman@trinidadexpress.com

Rage’ outs Eustace’s fire
BY ANDRE BAGOO Tuesday, February 5 2007

Tuesday, February 5th 2008
JHAWHAN THOMAS pulled off the upset of Sunday night’s Dimanche Gras, stopping Curtis Eustace from winning a record-breaking ninth King of Carnival title and taking the crown with a costume that will go down in history as the first ever King of Carnival on stilts since the competition began in 1963.

Thomas’s macabre “Pandemic Rage”, from Brian Mac Farlane’s Earth-Cries of Despair Wings of Hope, stunned the audience gathered at the Northern Greens, Queen’s Park Savannah coming on stage like a four-legged creature amidst a haze of orange smoke. Then, out of nowhere, masked figures, wearing all black, spewed from its side like the environmental effluence the costume is meant to be an indictment against. There was then tremendous applause as the orange, pink, black and gold costume — which resembled a cross between the exoskeleton of an insect and a giant lobster — danced across the stage with jerky motions.

Speaking with Newsday after his performance Thomas said he was dissatisfied with it.

“I had difficulty with the wind again but all in all it went well,” he said. Questions had been raised this week about the suitability of the Northern Greens venue, which does not have the benefit of a North Stand to shelter it from winds.

The judges, though, did not seem to notice Thomas’ troubles, awarding him 431 points, just four points more than Eustace’s “Chromatic Chaos”, which had gone into the finals as the hotly-tipped favourite. Third place went to Earl Thompson’s “Man” which earned 416 points.

Thomas’ victory has been long in the making as, year after year, designer Brian Mac Farlane has set out to win the contest with a King on stilts.

In 2006, Thomas wowed the crowd with a giant king sailor called “Dance and Rejoice” which featured a face on stilts. That costume only made it to the semi-finals and has since been made part of the subject of a documentary by TV host Mariel Brown.

Last year, Thomas seemed to have the title in the bag with Mac Farlane’s “Raj Kumar Boyle,” an elephant portrayal on stilts from the band India. But that costume collapsed just as it was about to go on-stage at the semi-finals.

This year, disaster almost struck once more in the semi-final round as “Rage” fell after crossing the stage in position number 13. Luckily, Thomas’ presentation had been complete before the mishap, thus not affecting his points and not endangering his passage through to the finals. He told Newsday that the steep gradient of the descending ramp of the Northern Greens venue was in part responsible for that mishap. As a result, on Sunday, “Rage” danced backwards to the edge of the stage where a specially built portable steel scaffold was used to wheel it backstage while Thomas remained inside the eerie costume.

It was a memorable night when costumes which took risks were given the top prizes.

Eustace too took a risk, modifying his costume for the finals. He surprised the audience by changing the simple sheen silver metallic body suit he had worn in the previous rounds. Instead, he paraded camouflaged against the glittering silver broadcast of the huge fan-like costume in a reptilian mask and then emerged with jerking motions as a six-armed creature; a chromatic freak of nature.

Had Eustace won, he would have surpassed Peter Samuel’s all-time record of eight wins. But this week Eustace described Samuels as an “inspiration”. “I tend to mimic Peter Samuel a lot,” he said.
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