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Barry returns with Better, Better Village

Published: 
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Eric Barry, playwright and director of Better, Better, Village. Photo by:Franka Philip

Eric Barry, playwright, actor, director and producer, returned to writing and directing for the Prime Minister’s Best Village Trophy Competition after an almost three-decade hiatus from the iconic festival in such a capacity.

He re-entered the arena this year with his play, Better, Better Village with Barataria based folk company Bon Bassa Productions, placing second in the Folk Theatre Category.

With his company, Tête-À-Tête Théâtre, he is collaborating with Bon Bassa to present this, his newest work, to the general public, a release said.

As a writer/director, Barry last worked with a Best Village group in the early 90s. What inspired his return to this genre was a chance incident two years ago.

When a judge suddenly pulled out on the morning of the first day of competition of the Folk Theatre finals in 2015, Barry was called in to replace him. Viewing a week of productions caused the bug to bite him once more. He would later write Better, Better Village and then went fishing around for a group who would host him. Bon Bassa took the bait.

To continue the metaphor, Better, Better Village is basically a fish out of water story. It is centred on Mr Roberts, an aspiring playwright who is also the son of a deceased Nobel Laureate for Literature. He dreams of being as renowned as his father, but his talent is nowhere close in comparison.

Rejected by his peers, he gravitates to a folk theatre company to have them do one of his plays at the annual folk theatre competition. In this arena he experiences culture shock as this world is governed by a discipline alien to anything he had experienced before. What ensues is a series of outrageous, comic situations.

Barry describes Better, Better Village as quite a potpourri.

“It is dramatic at the core, but layered with comedy. It is also, at times, a play within a play and then at other times, a play within a play, within a play. And of course, it is filled with folk songs and dances. It is a complex story, simply told,” he said.

Barry’s play speaks about changing the perception of folk theatre and he thinks that life is imitating art. He believes that this is the first time that a “mainstream” theatre company is pairing with a folk company in this manner, where the cooperation happens throughout the competition stages and is then featured outside of the Best Village forum.

The end result is a production at a standard that breaks the stereotypical expectation of those with a biased view of folk theatre.

Barry says that the move to Queen’s Hall with this production is a marriage of two genres that he loves—“mainstream” theatre with folk theatre.

Better, Better Village placing second in the competition is by no means a fluke as his writing has won him several Cacique Awards, these being: Most Outstanding Comedic Production for The Five Foolish Friends in Shhh…it is Christmas and The Foolish Friends in…Shhh it is Carnival; Most Outstanding Original Script for Paradise Garage and The Catalyst; Most Outstanding Dramatic Production (Tie) for The Catalyst which also won for Musical Score and Musical Composer.

Barry has no immediate plans for Better, Better Village after this run, but depending on how it performs at Queen’s Hall, other possibilities may present themselves. What about Best Village next year? He does not want to commit as yet but confesses that he is toying with a concept that is even more demanding than Better, Better Village. He just needs to make the time to write it.

INOF

Better, Better Village runs for four nights only at Queen’s Hall from September 14 to 16 at 8 pm and September 17 at 6 pm.
Tickets cost $150 and are available at Queen’s Hall Box office from September 11 to 16 from 10 am – 6 pm and on September 17 from noon – 6 pm.
Tickets can also be purchased from members of Bon Bassa Productions.

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