Sunday, February 25, 2018

Give Carnival change a chance


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WELL before Carnival Monday and Tuesday, the earliest results of the new-model Carnival events should be available for review and study. The centrepiece of the new arrangement has been the radical remake of the Dimanche Gras spectacular, marked by the removal of the competitive elements for calypso and mas—both rescheduled to separate occasions on separate nights, Carnival Thursday and Friday, respectively.

Since the Sunday evening show had become so identified with the crowning of monarchs—Kings and Queens of the bands, and of calypso—it will have been hard to imagine the basis on which a new-model Dimanche Gras could be conceived, scripted and attractively staged.

Bravely, the new producers have embarked on an "evolution", with full realisation of the daunting assignment of literally writing from scratch a charter for the event.

Tradition dies hard in Carnival, but change deserves to be given a chance. Carnival enthusiasts, participants and visitors should be encouraged to hold constructive attitudes toward the innovations being implemented by the Allison Demas-headed National Carnival Commission, in consultation, as always necessary, with stakeholders and the public.

There are few who will deny Dimanche Gras had become laborious and long-winded, sometimes lasting almost seven hours. In recent years, there were attempts to reduce its length, with the calypsonians restricted to singing just one song. That quickly reverted to the old format.

With the feedback in the wake of the new dispensation still coming in, and with the piece de resistance set for tomorrow night at the Big Yard, a final judgment cannot yet be made.

But just looking at the line-up leading to the annual reign of the Merry Monarch, it is hard to find fault with a night set aside specially for the crowning of the National Calypso Monarch. And the same can be said for the Kings and Queens of the bands who spend so much time and money to construct what is still unique to T&T Carnival—majestic artefacts that portray the theme of the bandleaders' presentations.

Now the calypsonians and masqueraders each have a night all their own to put forward their best work.

And with Dimanche Gras remodelled and reduced to what it is hoped will be a more audience-friendly format—featuring the best of the best—that show can become the flagship event that will highlight T&T Carnival around the globe, promoting it in a vibrant and eye-catching way that will pique the interest of those looking on, some of them currently shivering in sub-zero temperatures and who next year may book an airline ticket to sunny Trinidad and Tobago.

Whatever happens tomorrow night at the Savannah, we have to give the new dispensation a fair opportunity to earn its place in the annual line-up, rather than retaining the age-old method that has turned off rather than attracted new fans to The Greatest Show on Earth.