Friday, February 01, 2008

‘Minsh’ retreats to win the war


Mas luminary Peter Minshall is in a contemplative mood as he tries to figure where mas is heading. Photo: Keith Matthews

Mas icon Peter Minshall has resurfaced after a noticeable absence, to criticise the new offering of mas, calling it cheap.
The Trinity Cross holder and Emmy Award winner has been out of the Carnival limelight since 2006’s Sacred Heart.
Speaking on CNC3’s Big Story on Wednesday night, Minshall said he stayed away for so long because he did not want to repeat himself.
“You don’t want to piss in the wind,” he said, requesting that he be called “Minsh.”
He said that as a wise general would retreat, studying where the action was, he was prepared to “lose a battle or two in order to win the war.
“For some time now, there has been a very battle on for the soul of this country, and as far as I am concerned, the good guys are losing.”
He said the people mistakenly put a wedge between what were known as culture and politics.
“Mas in politics is no less the playing of the mas on the streets.”
Minshall accused the population—and even more so the Government—of selling out to the Chinese.
He said the Prime Minister’s Residence and Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s and the Centre for Performing Arts on Keate Street in Port-of-Spain, were built by “architectural ghosts such as the Chinese.
“At the same time, the beads and the feathers are being made by the Chinese.
“Our country is falling into a chasm from which it will never return.”
When mas is bad, it’s awful
He said that “much noise” was being made about this man—Minshall—but reassured that his work was of and about the people.
“The mas happens only by the permission of the people. It is the most extraordinary marriage; it is the most beautiful collaboration.
“When it’s bad, it’s awful…Like when opera doesn’t work, it’s unbearable. That theatre is bad theatre, but brilliant mas surpasses opera.
“Mas comes at you like thunder and lightning. It comes at you with all the power and force of a tsunami…It is all great art, an entire painting, like the entire works of Shakespeare.
“It is there to tell you about history, about human tragedy, about comedy.
“It is about fancy clowns and devils and demons and angels…”
Minshall questioned why should T&T, an island “rich in ancestry of Africa, Europe and India—three pillars of civilisation—” look unto the world.
“This little island does not want to be a country like every other country.
“This little island wants to be a country like no other. This little island is but a true vision and true understanding of its destiny…The world should be following us by example.”
Minshall said since his 30 years of involvement in the Greatest Show on Earth—T&T Carnival—the production of costumes has been reduced to the “cheap and tawdry.”
Costumes on wheels
Minshall felt that Carnival was now restricted to big trucks, which supplied “the drinks, the food, the toilets, the air-conditioning, the personal massage and the costumes,” littered between these great chasms of trucks.
“Oh. I don’t call them mas, I call them costumes,” he said.
“They say I am European; they say I am white, but that is not my measure.
“I am Caribbean; I am a rare hybrid. I am a multi-layered, richly-textured creature.
©2005-2006 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited
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