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Tuesday, August 9, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesOriginal Play at Complex Gives Audience a Chance to Remember

Original Play at Complex Gives Audience a Chance to Remember

From left Aherray Crump, Jahmila Greenaway and Shequila Robinson portray legendary storytelling figures of St. Croix's history.An original mix of music, dance and storytelling drawn from the powerful cultural influences of St. Croix’s history took the stage Saturday at the St. Croix Educational Complex High School.

The play "From Then to Now," a play written and directed by Valrica Bryson, the school’s music director, was presented by the school and Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights.

The three main characters of the show, Shequila Robinson, Jahmila Greenaway and Asherray Crump, portrayed three iconic St. Croix storytellers: Tan Tan Rosa, Mary Catherine and Sis Anna, respectively.

“I had these three students in mind when I started thinking about the women. I wanted to use their stories and felt that they [the students] were sassy enough to play the parts,” she said of their roles.

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The girls worked long hours but had fun memorizing the 16-page script and felt that the experience enriched their cultural history. When they forgot a line, they would improvise and the audience would erupt with laughter. They were approached by Bryson to play the roles, and jumped at the opportunity.

When asked if they were going to act again, they exclaimed in unison “Yes, she’s already writing our second play!”

In the first act, the characters reminisced with stories of historical Crucians and then, without missing a beat, they began singing cariso to fully embody the original women. The crowd cheered when they finished. In the second act as dancers took the stage and moved rhythmically to the bamboula.

The Complex Masqueraders then danced on stage with colorful, tattered fabric costumes and masks. They were followed by the stilt-dancing Moko Jumbies, or “Bara Jumbies” as the school calls them.

Anytime there was dancing, the school’s band, The Quelbe Ambassadors, played alongside their mentors – emulating and enhancing the rich sounds of Stanley & Ten Sleepless Knights.

The final act brought Complex’s quadrille dancers, known as the “Emancipation Dancers,” out on stage to show off their moves. Audience members applauded cheerfully as the dancers brought out elementary students for more quadrille dances.

“I really wanted to put something together that wasn’t just a play – but gave the students and audience members something to think about when they leave. I wanted to carry on the legacy and tradition of the significance of oral history,” Bryson said.

The play ended with a musical finale, where all dancers and actresses gathered on stage and danced joyfully to the quelbe rhythm.

St. Croix Educational Complex High School Principal Kurt Vialet, left, and Quadrille Dance director Kendell 'K.C.' Henry thank Valrica Bryson with a bouquet of flowers for her original play.Kurt Vialet, principal of the St. Croix Educational Complex High School, then took the microphone and brought Bryson on stage to present her a bouquet of flowers for making the play possible.

The school is seeking funding to continue presenting the program. Bryson would eventually like to take it to St. Thomas, and ultimately publish the play.

Bryson and Vialet agreed that none of it would have been possible without the historical icons of the islands to be characters in the play, or without the support of Stanley & the Ten Sleepless Knights, who worked rigorously with the Quelbe Ambassadors to make the play so successful.

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From left Aherray Crump, Jahmila Greenaway and Shequila Robinson portray legendary storytelling figures of St. Croix's history.An original mix of music, dance and storytelling drawn from the powerful cultural influences of St. Croix’s history took the stage Saturday at the St. Croix Educational Complex High School.

The play "From Then to Now," a play written and directed by Valrica Bryson, the school’s music director, was presented by the school and Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights.

The three main characters of the show, Shequila Robinson, Jahmila Greenaway and Asherray Crump, portrayed three iconic St. Croix storytellers: Tan Tan Rosa, Mary Catherine and Sis Anna, respectively.

“I had these three students in mind when I started thinking about the women. I wanted to use their stories and felt that they [the students] were sassy enough to play the parts,” she said of their roles.

The girls worked long hours but had fun memorizing the 16-page script and felt that the experience enriched their cultural history. When they forgot a line, they would improvise and the audience would erupt with laughter. They were approached by Bryson to play the roles, and jumped at the opportunity.

When asked if they were going to act again, they exclaimed in unison “Yes, she’s already writing our second play!”

In the first act, the characters reminisced with stories of historical Crucians and then, without missing a beat, they began singing cariso to fully embody the original women. The crowd cheered when they finished. In the second act as dancers took the stage and moved rhythmically to the bamboula.

The Complex Masqueraders then danced on stage with colorful, tattered fabric costumes and masks. They were followed by the stilt-dancing Moko Jumbies, or “Bara Jumbies” as the school calls them.

Anytime there was dancing, the school’s band, The Quelbe Ambassadors, played alongside their mentors – emulating and enhancing the rich sounds of Stanley & Ten Sleepless Knights.

The final act brought Complex’s quadrille dancers, known as the “Emancipation Dancers,” out on stage to show off their moves. Audience members applauded cheerfully as the dancers brought out elementary students for more quadrille dances.

“I really wanted to put something together that wasn’t just a play – but gave the students and audience members something to think about when they leave. I wanted to carry on the legacy and tradition of the significance of oral history,” Bryson said.

The play ended with a musical finale, where all dancers and actresses gathered on stage and danced joyfully to the quelbe rhythm.

St. Croix Educational Complex High School Principal Kurt Vialet, left, and Quadrille Dance director Kendell 'K.C.' Henry thank Valrica Bryson with a bouquet of flowers for her original play.Kurt Vialet, principal of the St. Croix Educational Complex High School, then took the microphone and brought Bryson on stage to present her a bouquet of flowers for making the play possible.

The school is seeking funding to continue presenting the program. Bryson would eventually like to take it to St. Thomas, and ultimately publish the play.

Bryson and Vialet agreed that none of it would have been possible without the historical icons of the islands to be characters in the play, or without the support of Stanley & the Ten Sleepless Knights, who worked rigorously with the Quelbe Ambassadors to make the play so successful.