'Minty Alley' To Be Adapted For The Screen
The classic novel Minty Alley, by the famed Trinidad and Tobago writer and intellectual CLR James, is being adapted for the screen. A script based on the novel is being developed by writer Irma Rambaran, who answered the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company's 2011 Literature Adaptation Call.
Minty Alley was the first novel by a black West Indian to be published in England. Written in the 1920s and published in 1936, it centres on the experiences of a young middle-class man who comes to live in a house at Minty Alley, in the process learning about the lives of the black working poor in the city.
Rambaran, a scholar of Caribbean literature, was drawn to the work because of its story and its significance. "It was very difficult to choose a book," said Rambaran in a telephone interview. "I looked at the whole range of West Indian authors on my shelf—which is a lot. Minty Alley struck me because it was one of the first books published by a black Trinidadian. And it's CLR James. How much more significant can you get?
"When you read reviews of Minty Alley they're always at this high academic level, but when you read the book it's really a very fascinating story with lovely characters, and there's great dialogue. The book also explores race relations. What he does is bring together Indians, Africans, a white nurse, a mixture of people. It's a microcosm of Trinidad searching for something in one little barrack yard in the post-Emancipation years."
It is a low hanging fruit to pick as our literature is internationally respected. Most of our storytelling is about relationships, journey from village to town, race and class relationships and growing up in a post-colonial society. These stories do not need expensive production sets and budgets."
"The TTFC is interested in preserving the culture of Trinidad and Tobago and the region on film, and the tradition within the English speaking Caribbean has been one of literature as award winning, Nobel Prize winning writing," Foderingham said, "hence this programme to move the written word to the screen so that a wider segment of the population can enjoy the work which should also find its place within the international marketplace."
Although it has already been adapted for stage and radio in a handful of versions, a film version of Minty Alley could introduce the book to a new audience, particularly young people. "Our youth are accustomed to the screen," Foderingham said. "They call them 'screenagers', because they are always watching a computer, TV or phone screen. If we want to reach them and remind them of the traditions within the region we have to find new channels and new ways of bringing these great and wonderful works of literature to a new and wider market." She added, "We would love to be able to develop this programme in partnership with different Caribbean countries who may have a similar interest in converting their literary works for the screen, so we could have joint ventures in raising the required funding to produce these films".
Rambaran is an expert on Derek Walcott, but when it came to choosing a literary work to adapt for the screen, instead of, say, Walcott's narrative poem Omeros, she chose CLR James' novel because of the simplicity of its setting. She hopes to complete the screenplay by March, 2013, and the TTFC then has a two-year option on the script. For more information on programmes on offer by the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company Ltd, please contact 625
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