Barbadian And British Collaboration Film, “A Caribbean Dream,” Accepted in International Festivals by Stephen Hall
Shakespeare is often regarded as the greatest literary playwright ever, while others regard their experiences with his works, at school, to have scarred them and left them bewildered for life. A Caribbean Dream will surprise both cliques, as this film unites Shakespeare’s language, modern English and a large taste of Barbadian, into the mix.
Filmed entirely in Barbados, mostly at Fustic House; an excellent location to blend mystery, magic and romance, across the Caribbean landscape. Many Barbadian’s may wonder that such an incredible location was unearthed, dressed, appreciated and became so enticing.
Shakespeare Improved Within the Caribbean?
A Caribbean Dream is the perfect re-imagining of William Shakespeare’s romantic comedy, A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Unlike many previous authoritarian or ultra-modernistic adaptations, this version brings the characters to life for all age ranges and is perhaps how Shakespeare should now best be admired. A Caribbean Dream will grasp the full attention of all film enthusiasts.
The intermingling of UK and Barbadian actors and crew, brings the island’s history, folklore and culture into the comedy and chaos of Shakespeare’s play. The film’s actors include Aden Gillett, Susannah Harker, Sam Gillett, Sonia Williams, Adrian Green, Jherad Alleyne and Marina Bye.
As with many of Shakespeare’s works, there is no clear lead actor. An exceptional mention must go, however, to Keisha Pope as Helena. She glides from scene to scene and understands how to tug at the audience’s emotions.
This Barbadian actress has proved her skills in Katori Hall’s UK/Barbadian rendering of The Mountaintop; a play set the night before Dr Martin Luther King’s assassination. She stands out consistently during the film as she is loved by one, but loves another, fabricated through magic spells.
Patrick Michael Foster steals the limelight with his rendition of Puck. While requested to perform magic, he alters the spells for his own delight, only returning with the correct spell after his fun has completed. Foster is not the tallest actor when you meet him, but he commands a massive presence across the big screen, every time he grants an appearance. As soon as you see him, you can’t wait to hear his next spell or carefully created mischievousness.
A New Theatre and New Official Film Selections
The review premiere was held in the newly developed Walled Garden Theatre at the Barbados Museum, as part of the Barbados Independent Film Festival of 2017. This excellent location added to the tremendous atmosphere surrounding the first Barbados screening of the film and judging by the reaction of the audience, was extremely well received.
The world premiere of A Caribbean Dream is being held at the LimeGrove Cinema, Holetown, on 28th February, 2017 and will be on general release from 1st March. Audience numbers will be high, especially after the news that A Caribbean Dream is listed as an official selection for the London Independent Film Awards, 2017 and is an official selection for this year’s Charlotte Black Film Festival.
The Comedy Enhanced for Today’s Audience
William Shakespeare wrote A Midsummer Night’s Dream during 1595/96. This modern version, set entirely in Barbados, features Theseus and Hippolyta as returning national’s. The Mechanicals are now the Fishermen, with Bottom, as a female black belly sheep. The screenplay was written and directed by the highly talented Barbadian, Shakirah Bourne, (following her success with Barbadian films Payday, Next Payday and Two Smart,) after being adapted by the creative minds of Shakirah Bourne and Melissa Simmonds.
The casting, by Melissa Simmonds of The Gale Theatre of Barbados and London, perfectly balances the British and Barbadian actors, black and white, without anyone feeling out of place among more experienced performers. This works in exactly in the same way as the BBC’s Death in Paradise performs closely with UK actors and the island of Guadeloupe.
One of the funniest parts of the film, was after Puck had been instructed by Oberon, the king of the fairies, to ensure that Titania, his Queen, would fall in love with a specifically chosen individual, almost as a punishment. Puck mysteriously alters the spell so that Titania temporarily fell in love with Bottom, the black belly sheep.
The fisherman’s performance, is realised as a play within the film, set for the entertainment of those preparing for the wedding. It is a seamless introduction to Barbadian humour, while the traditional Shakespeare addicts will be pleased how the Mechanicals have been transported forward several hundred years.
The Talent Department Shines Bright
Shakirah Bourne uses a vivid imagination to bring centuries-old characters into modern day Barbados. Managing to instil the Barbadian culture into a Shakespeare’s classic, mixing the language so that Barbadian’s won’t believe this is a foreign production. This combines well with her excellent direction, where every scene is managed with her masterly, yet cool, visualisation.
Ms Bourne chose the music from her local Barbados artist’s network and every track blends effortlessly within their individual setting, certainly bringing a Caribbean atmosphere to the landscape.
The producers, Melissa Simmonds and Lynette Eastmond have achieved, with executive producers, Christian Roberts and Keith Morris, the most delightful and entertaining, visually stunning production, of one of Shakespeare’s finest. All this without alienating any part of the potential audience.
The department for hair, make up and costume, is so good that you don’t notice the artists are so well-prepared, except for Mandy Cummins’ remarkable black belly sheep face make up, the highlight from these skilled and talented artists.
The cinematography, led by Robin Whenary, fresh from his success with We’re Doomed! The Dad’s Army Story, makes great use of the extraordinary Caribbean scenery and outstanding set decoration. Every scene becomes a joy to behold.
Should You Go and Witness History in The Making?
A Caribbean Dream is perfect for all ages, magnificent for all Shakespeare literary lovers and for those who have wanted to tread their toes in the Shakespeare world, but not get lost. At just 82 minutes, another 15 may have been preferred, but tight editing of every scene, will ensure a new association of interest for Shakespeare’s work.
Although the Barbados film industry has grown significantly during the past decade, low budgets have forced many producers and directors to accept poor quality lighting, sound, editing and often avoiding colour grading and colour correction. To achieve a high-quality production, the producers decided to encourage a substantially sized budget to ensure the finished product meets superior Hollywood standards. A Caribbean Dream sets the highest benchmark for the Barbados film industry; a target for others to equal and surpass.