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TSTT CEO Ronald Walcott

CZAR returns to Carnival Theatre with Riddim Nation

TSTT Corporate Communications

Press Release

Riddim Nation, the second annual instalment of CZAR’s Carnival theatre, takes place on 28th February and 1st March (Carnival Monday and Tuesday) at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA). The idea for the event originated in 2021 as an adaptation for the CZAR Group, equally renowned through their sister company, Caesar’s Army, for Carnival Road parties and fetes, both led by Commander in Chief & CEO Jules Sobion.

With over 20 years of experience in successfully building, managing, and championing brands, Sobion has become a key architect in advancing the local and regional entertainment landscape. “I acknowledge that Carnival was always about drama and theatre, in some form or fashion. It was happening before me, and so it continues. In doing these productions like last year and now, I hope to present the next generation of Carnival Theatre which will eventually find itself on the world stage,” Sobion highlighted.

Riddim Nation tells the story of Broko, a Moko Jumbie (stilt walker) in training, played by Kearn Samuel, a singer and actor with over two decades of experience in theatre and film. Samuel previously worked with CZAR on their 2021 production, M.A.S. | Magic + Spirit and fell in love with the synchronicities created when theatre meets the magic of Soca. “I realised I had a little acting bug when I was a late teenager and saw an ad for an acting class with the Trinidad Theatre Workshop (TTW). I went to it and got my first role in a play before the acting course was done, so I kept auditioning and kept getting roles since,” he recalled. Samuel is also a recording artiste and producer for several other artistes and a father of one daughter he calls ‘the apple of his eye.’

Playing the lead role in this year’s production is something he eagerly looks forward to, despite the obvious challenge he faces. “The role requires me to walk on stilts which is not something I have ever done before, but I have been training and working towards the height goal, and it’s a work in progress,” he added with a laugh. Stilt walking would be essential in his role of Broko, which follows the main character through different Carnival activities for him to find ‘his rhythm.’ “Broko is the son of a prominent and well-known singer, and his girlfriend is also deeply involved
with Carnival too, so it is almost embarrassing that he has little to no rhythm,” Samuel explains. “So, the story follows his quest to find his own rhythm and beat,” he added.

Gerard Cooper, General Manager Shared Services at TSTT, is pleased with the idea that started in response to the pandemic. “Theatre in the streets is how we have traditionally viewed Carnival, but this developing shift to taking Carnival to the theatre in a family-friendly way allows for a telling and re-telling of our Carnival story to new audiences or existing audiences in a new way,” Cooper stated. “And bmobile have long been huge supporters of our national festival in many diverse areas, so we are happy to continue our support of this creative initiative knowing that it not only has local support but can also easily trend into global interest as well,” he added. The native telecommunications provider was also a supporter of M.A.S. | Magic + Spirit in 2021.

The play is written and produced by Penny Gomez, familiarly known for her local entertainment show, Penny on Point. Gomez has previously written and directed two plays: A Minute to Midnight and Black Sun and staged-managed several iconic productions for popular Carnival bands Island People and Tribe in addition to managing the National Awards for the Office of the President and the 2009 Opening Ceremony of the Youth Forum of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, for the Tobago Youth Summit.

As the lead character, Kearn Samuel looks forward to seeing more creative developments for the Carnival festival like this one and also believes strongly in continuing this as an aspect of Carnival into the foreseeable future, well after the pandemic too. “There is absolutely a place for this. T&T is overflowing with incredible stories that have not been told. And the Carnival characters don’t get the attention they deserve, but this synergy between the theatre and Soca fraternities is the perfect way to get those stories told. The possibilities are endless.”

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