As the Fifth Summit of the Americas opens today in Trinidad, carnival designer Brian MacFarlane takes center stage. A young award-winning masman whose work has received top prizes in the Trinidad carnival since 2006, MacFarlane was commissioned by the government to create a series of cultural presentations, a Summit Village, and a number of sculptures to be displayed at various locations.
For the opening ceremony, MacFarlane has put together a 45-minute cultural presentation that traces the development of the Caribbean peoples from the indigenous inhabitants to the multiethnic citizenry of the region today. As he explained to the Trinidad Express:
“The 45-minute production will explore the many journeys of the Caribbean peoples from the Caribs and Arawaks, through the arrival of the Europeans, the coming of the African slaves and the Indian and Chinese indentured. The show will also visit the camboulay and other aspects of our cultural diversity while also addressing modern-day issues such as the environment and the state of our energy sector, oil and gas as well as natural and human resources.”This all runs as a continuous show with all the music having been composed and chosen specifically for it. This will climax with a grand Carnival finale. Initially we had incorporated several artistes from across the Caribbean to be a part of the presentation, but budget cuts forced us to cancel much of these. The show will still be a grand affair we can all as a nation be proud of though,” MacFarlane said. The production will feature hundreds of dancers, singers and musicians from Trinidad and Tobago, among them the Marcia Charles Dance Company, Carol La Chapelle Dancers, Malick Folk Performers and Shiv Shakti Dancers.
Mac Farlane, who began an apprenticeship as masman in the early part of this decade and has been producing his own work since 2006, is best known for his efforts at safeguarding the traditions of carnival. In 2008 he produced “Earth: Cries of Despair, Wings of Hope,” an environmentally themed band that depicted the ecological abuse the Earth had been subjected to by humans. “It displays the reaction to the actions that has been done globally,” Macfarlane said at the time. “With sections such as Fires of Rage, Radiation, Famine, Ultra Violet Rays, Demise of the Oceans, and Oil Spill, they all make up chapters in the story of the social and economic crisis that is taking place all over the world.”
MacFarlane’s award-winning 2009 effort was focused on Africa. Writing for the Trinidad Guardian, Peter Ray Blood had this to say about MacFarlane’s 2009 carnival band: “I have run short of superlatives in describing Mac Farlane’s epic presentation of “Africa: Her People, Her Glory, Her Tears.” Aside from utilising mas-making methods that predecessors like Harold Saldenah and George Bailey have used, authenticity was also a primary underlying asset to this presentation. Mac Farlane did exhaustive research, to the point of consulting Orisa elders on certain aspects of the mas, as well as sourcing African consulates based here.”
For the Guardian article see http://guardian.co.tt/features/feature-columnist/2009/03/06/positives-carnival
For more on MacFarlane’s show for the Trinidad Summit see http://www.trinidadexpress.com/index.pl/article_features?id=161465561
For more on MacFarlane’s 2008 carnival band see http://wemagonline.blogspot.com/2008/01/we-cover-story-mac-farlanes-carnival_4611.html