A review by Paula Lindo for Trinidad’s Guardian.
Playwright, poet and cultural activist Eintou Pearl Springer’s newly published book encompasses her love of storytelling, history and the children of T&T.
Survivor: A Collection of Plays for Children and Young Adults is a compilation of some of her best-known plays, including Shades of I-She, Freedom Morning Come, and I, Hyarima, which tell the history of T&T and its traditions.
At the launch on August 8 at the National Library, Port-of-Spain, Springer’s daughter, Atillah, said her mother’s obsession with everyone’s children was not something that many people knew about. She said the book was a work of love.
“If there’s nothing else Eintou has achieved in her life, it would be that insistence on legacy, that constant sharing of her talent, wisdom, skill and knowledge.”
Poet and musician Muhammad Muwakil, who spoke about Springer’s plays and process, said her plays and work teach what the school system doesn’t about the history of T&T.
“Eintou’s plays are a gift that we will not unwrap for many generations to come. We used to hear Anansi stories all the time growing but how many stories are there? There are only a very few people who have rooted themselves in Anansi culture and what it means to be an Anansi being.”
The plays combine song and dance and poetry with drama. Author and former university lecturer in English Merle Hodge said, “This book is a welcome addition to a slowly growing stock of Caribbean literature specifically aimed at children and young adults which is grounded in their reality.
“The work Eintou has been doing helps to ground children and young people in the human and physical environment to which they belong, thereby helping them to develop a strong sense of themselves and this is one of the crucial functions of any people’s literature.”
She said bringing these consciousness-raising plays together in one collection is an important continuation of Springer’s life work.
“The plays show a Caribbean tradition of resistance and contain knowledge about ourselves. This collection of plays is the work of an artist who is truly grounded in this place we call home.”
The performances of scenes of I, Hyarima by Brendon Lacaille and Freedom Morning Come by Shanya Springer were hair-raising as they portrayed the resistance of the indigenous people and enslaved Africans against those who enslaved them. Rapso group 3canal performed a song based on Springer’s poem Survivor, after which the book is named.
Springer thanked those who guided her, including her mother Ida Arrtley, Nnamdi Hodge, Pam Benson, Mavis John, Slade Hopkinson, and others.
“Storytelling is my foundation and all of these plays are stories. I’ve spent so many magical moments listening to stories at my uncle’s feet, and my heart aches for the children who don’t have that. So the plays try to give that in some ways to the children. It’s not the real thing but it’s the best that I can do.”
The book with accompanying CD can be found at the Blue Edition Book Store in Tunapuna and Metropolitan Bookstores in Port-of-Spain.