Leading the march: Muhammad Muwakil and Jared Prima, actors in “March to Caroni.”
University campuses are often the site of protests and demonstrations, where ideas ricochet off each other, where seminal moments erupt and change histories forever.
Over its fifty years, this St Augustine Campus has been central to radical movements of all sorts. As our erudite Professor Bridget Brereton informed us in her address at last month’s rededication ceremony of the Administration Building, it was a hotbed during the Butler Riots of 1937, and from 1960 to the early 1980s it was positively jumping. Prof Brereton told the tale of the 1980 siege on the office of the principal by furniture-flinging students. Considering that Lloyd Braithwaite was the principal then and he has probably been the most popular principal ever, it is a striking story for what it illustrates about the depth of student passion.
In recent times, that passion has not been readily evident among the student population, indeed, some have complained that it is symptomatic of a general apathy throughout the country. Many have lamented the loss of a deep intellectual tradition that once dotted our landscape with public lectures on matters of national concern and importance, where one could find a James, a Capildeo, a Gomes or a Williams discussing ideas (as opposed to the cheap mud-slinging of today’s politics).
Because the concept of intellectual discourse seems to be fading, it is doubly important that our society is reminded of its own tradition before it is too late.
When the Department of Creative and Festival Arts (DCFA) held its theatrical production, “March to Caroni,” at the St Augustine Campus, it was an excellent invocation to rouse weary spirits.
Using the Campus grounds as its stage, the producers engaged audience and actors alike as they retraced journeys and called forth blurred memories for those who had been there, and created new ones for those who never knew.
In these times of unrest, the sound of marching feet on the campus is not muffled. From students to academics, from theatre to reality, while the feet may be doing the walking, it is the heads that determine the direction.
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