How I Feel after Ti-Jean

I’ve been struggling to process my feelings and thoughts towards my theatrical debut in Derek Walcott’s Ti-Jean and His Brothers. I am from the school of thought that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it. I strongly believe that you must do the things that bring you joy and that you’re passionate about. I also believe in personal growth and challenging yourself. So what does all of that have to do with Ti-Jean?

Being a part of the production was an accident of fate. I didn’t know about the play, I didn’t know about auditions, I happened to be there at the right time and I happened to say yes. I did not intentionally go seeking it out. So why did I audition?

I just returned from a month long trip to Bali, a trip I went on to challenge myself and be uncomfortable and discover new parts of myself. I wanted to continue that journey back home, I wanted the challenge of doing something new and different in Trinidad.

And then I was chosen.

How do you accidentally show up to an audition, with no real experience and get cast for the role? I honestly don’t have an answer but I took it as a sign that this was something I had to do. And what an experience it was.

I suppose it’s easier to get along with 19 strangers from different parts of the world because you allow for cultural differences and are a bit more open and patient with them. But 16 of your own people? From the same place, with a variety of emotions, personalities, methods of communication, and energies, at different places in life? That is a real challenge! And I underestimated it drastically. I thought my challenge was going to be acting, battling my fear of being uncomfortable in my own skin and standing on a stage in front of audience. And I did deal with all of those things, but that was the easy part in comparison.

cast & school children
Backstage after our first school show, with one of the schools that thoroughly enjoyed the play.

I’ve been asked if I enjoyed my experience and if I’ll get on stage again, what’s next?

I can finally honestly answer:

I did not enjoy the experience, but that was not my intention. It was meant to be a challenge and it was meant to be uncomfortable and that is what it was. Of course, I didn’t help myself at all by also agreeing to be the designer for the production and adding social media and promotional marketing design to my to do list. But not everything in life is meant to be enjoyable. Some things need to be hard or else how do we grow? I am extremely grateful for the experience, I am extremely grateful for the growth, for the people I met, for the new energies I’ve experienced. And I truly loved it.

Acting is not my passion. And I know that now. However, this has reiterated that singing is. The parts I would say I “enjoyed” were learning the songs, singing the songs, and I’m sure the fact that this was a musical and not a regular play was no accident.

Will I get on stage again? For another musical, in a chorus rather than a lead role, definitely yes. And I will look out for other opportunities where I can keep singing, because I truly enjoy that, always have and probably always will.

The family and Bolom
On stage with my 3 sons and Bolom. Image by Abigail Hadeed

I’m coming to a place of acceptance that I experience things differently from what is expected and that it’s okay. I went through a couple of days feeling guilty for not enjoying this amazing opportunity I was given, that other people dream of. I felt that my lack of enjoyment meant ingratitude. But far from it. I completely acknowledge the privilege to be on a stage with Cacique award winners, talented and experienced actors and dancers, people I’ve watched and admired in other plays, productions and movies. The privilege to be choreographed by Abeo Jackson and directed by Wendell Manwarren. The privilege to be cast as Mother in a Derek Walcott play, a role that my History and Thespian teacher played in 1995, Ms. Mairoon Ali. The privilege to walk in her footsteps has been magical. I am so extremely grateful for this privilege. And I look forward to the next random opportunity of fate that comes my way.

the cast
The Cast of Ti-Jean and His Brothers 2019. Photos by Abigail Hadeed.

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