The National Cultural Foundation
St. James, Barbados
Five days of rehearsals have flown by and I have been working with the actors eight hours a day. Process has always been private for me, especially during dramaturgy – it is like being a midwife to a play. I am known for being able to work at an incredible pace because once I start working I stay with it all day and even after the actors have left I continue to work.
I keep saying that Mary is an African Caribbean woman and sometimes I say Caribbean, but in English history she is referred to as the first British subject to publish her narrative. I refuse to call her British.
Mary Prince was born out of her mother’s womb a free woman in Bermuda. Upon being received as a part of the plantation community in Bermuda she was enslaved. Bermuda was a British colony and by virtue of that she was deemed a British subject. However, today I claim her as the first female African Caribbean woman to publish her narrative. Others have claimed her before me I am sure.
Susannah Moodie née Stickland was her amanuensis, her ghostwriter – her name did not appear in the first publication of the text. I questioned how much Susannah changed in the writing of the narrative because of her own sensibilities. Mary Prince’s narrative was written as ammunition for the abolitionist to use in demanding freedom for the enslaved. What is interesting for me in the narrative is that she does not only tell her story, she also tells the stories of all the enslaved people with whom she came into contact.
I started on Monday by revealing my quest to reclaim Mary. It is like a fire burning within me to liberate her name, liberate her narrative. She was born free and enslaved and made the subject of a colonial empire. Some may argue against this, but to me Mary is the first African Caribbean woman to publish her narrative and I stand by that. She liberated herself in her lifetime. You can form your own opinions, read the book or watch the play when it comes to your community.
Written by: ncf_boss