Thursday, March 20, 2014

Minshall unhappy with Carnival’s progress

Masman Peter Minshall says Carnival and culture have been reduced to an exercise about money and are without feeling. He was speaking at the annual general meeting of the Patrons of Queen’s Hall at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s, on Monday. “The country boasted a Carnival balance between spirit and flesh, between attained and entertained. The entire culture of the country was in a fairly healthy state,” he told the audience.
“But Independence has inexorably led to a preponderance of tribalism, greed and shameless grabs for power by any means. And that is what I fear, where the culture of the country has followed. It’s all power and greed now, no matter the spiritual cost. The Carnival visually, musically, is flesh and money, horrifically skin-deep and without feeling. “The Cabinet in turn is all feathers and beads. It’s pure show and shallow propaganda. Indeed, Carnival in the worst sense of the word.
“So what of the people? Fewer and further in between will you find a good, solid, true human being nowadays. Man, woman, young, old, hetero or homo.”  Minshall, who made a return to mas this year by designing for small band Miss Miles, A Band On Corruption, said citizens have fallen under the age of Mancrab nowadays, which is an overwhelming force of power and greed. Mancrab was a symbol of greed and technological madness in one of his popular bands—River—in 1983.
Minshall spoke about his time in the performing arts in Trinidad and his experience at Queen’s Royal College and Radio Trinidad and his work in London’s Notting Hill Carnival in the mid-1970s. However, he said his first adventures in the world of performing arts were local and praised T&T’s cultural diversity. “We could all play each other. It is the nature of life on a little island like this. Our ancestral riches seep from one to the other,” he said.
“My ancestors are not from Europe alone. My ancestors are from India, Africa, Europe and places in between, because if I belong...all that they have belongs to me...and vice versa...” Minshall said early in his career he designed the set for Pirates of Penzance and received support from Paul Hill from the British Council and even Sir Solomon Hochoy.
Critics in the earlier stages of his life raved that he had great promise and his work was also showcased in the ballet, Beauty and the Beast. This also received rave reviews over his set design. During his address, Minshall broke into song, thrilling the Patrons of Queen’s Hall. He recalled how Dance Macabre, his 1980 mas band, shocked the audience into silence when it took the stage at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain.
Minshall said the gods gave T&T oil to make music: “When groups met was a drum of steel and make war with music.” He quoted operatic diva Maria Callas, playwright Frederick Garcia Lorca and choreographer Martha Graham and explained the rationale behind his own work “I have to do mas as art, whatever that means. But it had to be in the balance between attainment and entertainment.
“My grief was to help my people now emerging from the womb...we have a destiny. Here we have a man and we should embrace the whole world as islanders...tell Keith that, tell Kamla that...” Minshall also described former Queen’s Hall chairman Margaret Walcott, who died on Ash Wednesday, as a “great lady.” “I am tempted to say to you they don’t make them like that any more, but my faith in the regenerative power of the universe lets me hold my tongue...

SOURCE: Camille Clarke

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