A Tribute to Zeno Constance

A good tribute is not easy to organize, but for Trinidadian playwright, Zeno Obi Constance, it was worth going the extra mile. Mr. Constance has proven himself to be one of the most prolific and talented Caribbean playwrights, and I have had the pleasure of producing many of his works over the course of many years. Starting in 2007 with our first production of The Ritual, one of his most well-known plays, I found Mr. Constance to be exceedingly generous and supportive in all of my collaborations with him. Over time, I ultimately decided to put together a well-deserved theatrical tribute to him, one that would include some excerpts from his repertory as well as testimonials from some of his past students about the creative power and influence of their former teacher and mentor.

The tribute happened to coincide with Banana Boat Productions’ 20th anniversary, so I did my best to patchwork together both events in a way that might shine a light on the importance of each. In fact, our 20th anniversary could only be celebrated because of the contributions of people like Mr. Constance who gave us such stellar material to work with. Between 2007 and 2019 Banana Boat Productions had produced five of his plays – six, if you count the fact that The Ritual was produced twice. I enjoyed producing and/or directing each of them, but while I loved them all, I was particularly enthralled by Cinderella Syndrome, a play that depicts mental illness brought on by domestic abuse. Each performance with our masterful cast left me and many audience members in tears. It’s a perfect example of how Mr. Constance writes so effectively within a multi-level perspective, bringing heartfelt aspects of universal human experience into an elaborately staged Caribbean framework. In doing so, he enhances thoughtful reflections of both.

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