New GARIFUNA Play, “WABUGU–The Exile” Advances to FINAL Round of Short Play Competition. FINAL Performances are TODAY, TUESDAY September 9th 2014 in Times Square Area. Will This New Garifuna Play WIN?

 

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New York, New York —  “Wabugu — The Exile”, the new short play by Eleanor Castillo Bullock, was selected and made it into the FINAL Round of The New York, New Works Off Broadway Theatre Festival.  It is one of SIX Short Plays competing to win this Short Play Competition.  The  FINAL Round is TONIGHT, TUESDAY, September 9th 2014.  Will this new Garifuna play WIN?

Wabugu–The Exile is a new play by Belizean Garifuna Woman Eleanor Castillo Bullock that tells the story of the day the Black Caribs (a.k.a. Garifuna People) were exiled from their Native Land of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

A Buyei, Garifuna Villagers and Garifuna Drummers in a scene from the new short Garifuna Play, "Wabugu--The Exile". Photo from The New York New Works Theatre Festival on Facebook.

A Buyei, Garifuna Villagers and Garifuna Drummers in a scene from the new short Garifuna Play, “Wabugu–The Exile”. Photo from The New York New Works Theatre Festival on Facebook.

The format of the Festival is somewhat like a “Reality Show”.  You can call this the “American Idol” styled competition of Short-Form Plays.  Here, plays are performed and the audience votes for the plays that it likes and feels should make it into the Final Round.  Plays that make it into the Finals will be performed before a bigger audience and on a bigger stage.

A Buyei, Garifuna Villagers and Garifuna Drummers in a scene from the new short Garifuna Play, "Wabugu--The Exile". Photo from The New York New Works Theatre Festival on Facebook.

A Buyei, Garifuna Villagers and Garifuna Drummers in a scene from the new short Garifuna Play, “Wabugu–The Exile”. Photo from The New York New Works Theatre Festival on Facebook.

Tonight’s FINAL Round will feature SIX Plays.  Each Play is approximately 30 minutes long.

Cover to the Playbill of Wabugu--The Exile.

Cover to the Playbill of Wabugu–The Exile.

The cast of Wabugu–The Exile includes, Joseph Sexton, Jack McKeane, Wesley Renard, Randolph Enriquez, Isha Sumner, Milton Guity, Shanae Harris, Samantha Zenon, Dominique Bullock, D’Arcel Bullock, Brandon Bullock, Niomi Calis, Dorina Castillo, Brianni Atkinson, Arton Martinez and Dylan Goday.

Cast of the New Short Garifuna Play, "Wabugu--The Exile".

Cast of the New Short Garifuna Play, “Wabugu–The Exile”.

Tickets for the FINAL Round of Performances TONIGHT, Tuesday, September 9th 2014 are $26.87 each and can be bought at the Brown Paper Tickets website.  Previous rounds SOLD-OUT and tickets are selling quickly.  There may not be any tickets available to be purchased at the door.

Cast of the New Short Garifuna Play, "Wabugu--The Exile".

Cast of the New Short Garifuna Play, “Wabugu–The Exile”.

The Plays will be performed promptly at 7pm.  Please arrive on time, Wabugu–The Exile can be performed at ANY time so it’s best to be there at the beginning.

Plays will be performed at the:

Times Square Arts Center

300 W. 43rd Street (at 8th Avenue)

New York, NY  10036

On a historical note, a play with a similar subject is considered the first Black or African-American play.  In January 1822, William Alexander Brown premiered a play he wrote and staged, “SHOTAWAY; or the Insurrection of the Caribs of St. Domingo” in Lower Manhattan, which had as its subject the Black Caribs on the Island of St. Vincent and their fight against British colonialism.  In June of 1823, he revived his drama under a new title, called, “The Drama of King Shotaway”.    1

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No one has been able to find the script to “The Drama Of King Shotaway”, however that play is considered the First Black play produced in America.  The opportunity to see a new play which has as it’s subject the Garifuna people of St. Vincent and is being produced in New York City, one hundred and ninety-one years after the fact should be something that is relished.

FINAL Round for Wabugu--The Exile is on TUESDAY, September 9th 2014.

FINAL Round for Wabugu–The Exile is on TUESDAY, September 9th 2014.

ABOUT Eleanor Castillo Bullock

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Eleanor Castillo Bullock, a Garifuna Dancer and Choreographer, is the director of GAMAE Arts and Culture.  Born in Dangriga (a.k.a. Stann Creek) a small coastal village in Belize, Bullock has become a leading figure in the growing renaissance of young Garifuna intellectuals, artists, and scholars who are writing poetry and plays in the Garifuna language.

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Belizean Garifuna Woman Eleanor Bullock with the YugaCure Initiative in St. Vincent Island in 2011.  Photo courtesy of Caribbean Life News.

Belizean Garifuna Woman Eleanor Bullock with the YugaCure Initiative in St. Vincent Island in 2011. Photo courtesy of Caribbean Life News.

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A graduate of Syracuse University’s Visual and Performing Arts Program, Bullock has designed and created performing arts programs based on the Garifuna culture and language. In 2005, Eleanor co-created the Habinaha Garinagu Language & Performing Arts Program, which enables youths to explore and celebrate the language, cultural traditions, and arts of the Garifuna community. In addition to preserving the Garifuna language, Bullock has started several programs to empower Garifuna women and young girls, including the GAMAE Education Divison, and the GAMAE Empowering Women to Lead Change Program.

Belizean Garifuna Woman Eleanor Bullock.  Photo from youtube.com

Belizean Garifuna Woman Eleanor Bullock. Photo from youtube.com


In 2013, she helped organize the 2013 New Jersey Folk Festival, which had Garifuna Culture as part of it’s theme.  Eleanor Bullock was interviewed on the Old Ways In New Jersey Television show about Garifuna culture in 2013.  2

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ABOUT The Garifuna People

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The Garifuna people are people of African descent (in other words, Black people) whose ancestry can be traced to Africans mixing with Carib Indians and Arawak Indians on the Eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent.  From this fusion of race and ethnicities in St. Vincent Island, a distinct culture and language arose.  They are noted for being one of the few (only?) peoples of African descent (again, in other words, Black people) in the Americas to have maintained aspects of their ancestral culture and full use of their ancestral language for everyday use over the course of hundreds of years.


-


After being defeated in war with the British on St. Vincent in 1796; 1004 men, 1779 women and 1,555 children for a total of 4,338 people (mostly Black Caribs, as the Garifuna people were then known) were captured and taken to Baliceaux, a small island, a rock, basically, off the coast of St. Vincent.  This took place from July 1796 through February/March 1797.  About 2,000 Garifunas died of a mysterious and very infectious fever while living on Baliceaux awaiting their fate.   3


In early March 1797, the remaining Garifunas were loaded onto the HMS Experiment and other ships.  Once they were rounded up, the convoy were taken to a Bequia, which is another island off the coast of St. Vincent. They proceeded to go to Grenada to get water, then Jamaica for refueling, then finally Roatan, Honduras, arriving on April 12th 1797.


Finding much of Roatan unliveable, the Garifuna people petitioned officials representing Spain and it’s government (which controlled much of Central America at the time) to be allowed to move to the Honduran mainland.  Upon being allowed to move to the Honduran mainland, the Garifunas settled many towns and villages along the Caribean coast of Honduras.  They also migrated to the neighboring countries of Guatemala, Belize (then known as British Honduras) and Nicaragua over the years.


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Notes:

  1. Marvin McAllister, “White People Do No Know How To Behave At Entertainments Designed For Ladies and Gentlemen of Colour: William Brown’s African and American Theater” pg. 95
  2. http://www.beinggarifuna.com/blog/2013/03/01/video-garifuna-american-woman-eleanor-bullock-interviewed-about-garifuna-culture-on-television-program-old-ways-in-new-jersey/
  3. Nancie L. Gonzalez, “Sojourners of the Caribbean: Ethnogenesis and Ethnohistory of the Garifuna” pg. 21

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