Review: Quilt Performing Arts Company’s ‘Colour Me’

By Desi Brown

Quilt Peforming Arts Company’s Excerpts from ‘Colour Me’ catapulted me into immense feelings of discomfort, sadness, hope, joy…and I can’t possibly list all!

‘Colour Me’, written and directed by Rayon Mclean with contributions from his colleagues, Maya Wilkinson and Odain Murray was staged on Saturday February 27 2016 at the Phillip Sherlock Centre, in Kingston Jamaica.

Quilt PAC delivered an explosive culturally infused production nudging the corridor of power with unceasingly intense socio-cultural and political commentary using “colour” as a metaphor for a varying number of issues. Predominantly speech, the theatrical presentation also featuring dance and song explored and challenged topics such as socialization, living up to the expectations of society, internal conflict towards self-actualization, remaining true to who you are as an individual and a people, political ideologies and misconceptions of political participation. There may be more, but these are the most memorable for me. But it is so much more than the script. It was the impeccable delivery.

I’d say ‘Colour Me’ is a myriad of metaphoric excellence except sometimes, there were no filters for some perceptions. It is a work of a creative genius, brimming with provocative imagery and symbolism through poetry, drama, movement, music, sound and lighting. The multitalented Quiltans were extremely committed to their roles from beginning to the end. They performed each piece with so much conviction that it would be hard not to experience the passion and power emanating from their presence every time they graced the stage.

Noteworthy are the singers. Their melodious sound of blackness echoed in the theatre causing the audience to “ooooh”, “ahhhh” and “mmmm”. While there were some commendable solo pieces, they were all better together as they created a beautiful harmony. My favourites are “Fly Away” to the colour green scene which was a symbol for healing and growth as well as “True Colours”.

“Pink is for Girls, Blue is For Boys” is a phenomenal piece that effectively addresses how our society dictates who we should be rather than encouraging us to express who we are or desire to be. The Quiltans that led both sides were so immersed in their roles contributing to an incredible delivery. This is definitely one of my favourites.

Kudos to Mclean for incorporating Maypole and the Jamaican indigenous folk forms such as Kumina and Dinki-Mini into his work. That Afro-Caribbean song and movement was brilliantly choreographed and directed.

Compelling arguments were presented about society acting like “zombies”. Not thinking in times of desperation and even when making decisions about who should govern us. The piece on “marking the x” is so profound as it addresses the relationship of the poor with politicians who come bearing gifts. The relationship is characterized my desperation and vulnerability. Despite the hardships faced by these individuals, they still support those who show up for them in their times of need; an experience most of us could never understand. Subsequently, there was a call for a “Revolution” which was indeed artistically revolutionary. The movement were so precise.

The second half really increased my level of discomfort but anyone who knows me is sure that this is a good thing!

Here is where I add; the lighting was the icing on the cake! It definitely helped to enhance what was already an amazing theatrical showcase.

Although young, Quilt Performing Arts Company is a powerhouse with enormous electric potential. I am inclined to believe that this group has recognized the power they have to encourage change as artists within the creative arts and also in our society. Their performance this weekend was quite a refreshing experience as they provocatively and creatively captured so much of who we all are and what we are confronted with daily. A splendid depiction of what art means to many of its practitioners, an expression of our true selves. Quilt Performing Arts Company is a growing dynasty. I am impressed! Watch out fi dem!

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