What a better way to recount a Nation’s historical events other than through the memory of one of its elders? Memwar Pa Joe, a musical being especially prepared for our National Day will take us on a historical and cultural trip down the memory lanes of certain unforgettable events in our history.
The theatrical piece has been written by Mrs Jacqueline Moustache Belle with the help of artists such as Joe Samy and David Andre. “I had to do a lot of research in order to choose the events I wanted to illustrate” states Mrs Belle. “Then came the part where I had to choose the songs which were written because those events actually happened and they have been immortalized in those songs by artists who witnessed or lived through that era”. The selection of the songs were made in consultation with the artists working on the play.
From the moment the curtains open, Pa Joe who is the main actor, and narrator, will lead us through the Play. It all starts will a call from Italy announcing him his grandchild’s wedding which is going to be held in Seychelles. Whilst his wife is busy thinking about the wedding preparations, Pa Joe reminisces about the past, his own wedding which took place soon after he came home from the war. From then on he will have flashbacks of certain events before independence, some political and others historical.
“The moment I started writing it, it was easy to structure and find a chronological order to it, the main difficulties were to have access to the songs we had to get the recordings so that the actors can learn the lyrics, and then there was a certain period for which we had no songs”, stated Mrs Belle when talking about the challenges for putting up the theatrical piece of work.
Putting the play together took months of research, and interviewing some of our elders who remember those events. Then there was the casting for actors and rehearsing the play. The presence of some actors who were in the Seychelles National Cultural Troupe gives the play a sense of professionalism.
Turning the play into a musical, instead of just a straight play, requires the assistance of a professional. One of Seychelles best is Patrick Victor, who is the play artistic director, had the task to ensure that all is well presented on stage.
“First we had to be certain that we had the best songs to illustrate the story, it was also important to decide on whether we keep the original song, or modify the music and modernise it, we had to decide whether it will be a group singing or one or a few persons”, says Patrick Victor
The decisions had to be taken by all three artists working on the show, Joe Samy, David Andre and Patrick Victor. All songs are played by local group “Metisse” and they will all be live, no playback will being entertained.
In many instances the public will be able to relate to the songs, in a sing along style. Sometimes the original artist will be interpreting their songs, bringing in a sense of reality. John Vital and Reuben will be two of those artists, who will be on stage with the actors.
“A lot of Seychellois will like the play, as it will be easy to identify them with it, the narration is clear and simple, there is nothing complicated or rhetorical, and it’s all plain and simple texts”.
On stage some of the actors are free to add their own humour into the script in one or two words. During its last week of rehearsals, only some fine tuning were done, after the dress rehearsal on Monday, casts and crew are now ready to face the public.
To ensure that a maximum of Seychellois can come and appreciate the play, it will be staged on four occasions in a row during the National Day week-end celebrations.
The first being played for invited guests only will be on the 14th, and for the public on the 15th, 16th and 17th at ICSS at 7.30pm, with the exception of the one being played on Sunday which is at 3pm. Tickets cost R100, and is available at Tanmi sales office Pirates Arms.
“At this point, I have no worry at all, I seriously think it will be a great play, and that the public will enjoy it”, says Patrick Victor to conclude.