Glitter the Stage in Mas

Last week we attended the Preliminary show for King and Queen adult carnival costumes, bringing out more than forty participants for males and females. This contest continues on to pick one king and one queen to own the carnival on parade day. Exceeding what I expected, costumes can be several times bigger than the person carrying it, made of iron, feathers, glitter, mesh, paint, and a lot of beads. These costumes were large and elaborate, showing the craftsman ship of the designer and celebration of various themes. Participants were not only judged on the costume’s aesthetic design and portability given its purpose, but also on their stage deliverance of the costume’s essence. Each taking a turn, the contestants smiled, marched, wined, and posed all over the stage to entertain judges, all to popular soca music even I could recognize. Though I was impressed by the massive size of these backpacks pranced or wheeled around the stage, it must also be a test of strength for those participants who carried the decor without wheel support. Yes, there were a few participants who collapsed at the event, on or off stage, but overall, the event went well.

I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to be at stage front taking photos with the various media crews. I also found that my role at stage front involved more than just taking photos, and discretely dancing to my favorite tunes. Some contestants needed moral support. At moments where a person looked nervous, they looked at me bobbing in the front and remembered to smile. At another time, the tribal mask fell off one guy’s costume, making him unfocused. All I could do was to nod my head and smile, as if to say ‘it’s ok, the show must go on,’ because I know that the performer never picks up a malfunctioned prop while in the moment, they have to work it into the show somehow. Then after pacing the stage a few laps he wheeled back over the mask to pick it up and held it near his face while grinning at me, as though he won a grand prize or found an old friend. I gladly photographed his triumphant moment and suddenly felt like I was meant to be there at their feet, beneath the stage, between the lights and audience.

It has been an interesting task to not only manually create the costumes by painting or stapling or gluing, but to document the creation process step-by-step and then showcase to judges. The designer even explained her theme idea to me and showed original sketches of the various costumes. Given that my purpose for attending the children’s masquerade was to chaperone the Lilliput sailor band named “S S UPRISING,” my initial job was to help assemble the banner, direct members to our tent, and put lipstick on the girls for a grand stage entrance (I do admit that being a cosmetician is a real skill and art in itself. Luckily I was handed one universal lipstick to apply). Even the three-year-olds were excited about dressing up and jumping on the stage in front an audience and judges. Too cute! I really appreciate Noble Douglas allowing me to help in the mas production, even though I came into the process at crunch time. I really felt needed and welcomed at Lilliput, not only for the mas camp production but in dance classes and general willingness to host me.

I was also really impressed by the children’s costumes, which were suited for ages 12-15 girls and boys. The designs, materials, and themes, were very sophisticated and festive. Even the size of the costume did not halt the participants from prancing around the stage with smiles, making the costume show a real performance. They were also judged on ability to portray the character. Theme varied from traditional characters or attire to dragons, the rainforest, and even makeshift pirate ships! I was also pleased to see that there was a lot of good sportsmanship present between the contestants as winners for various categories and placements were announced. Parents were supportive on and off stage, adding to this feeling of celebration and togetherness. In the end, I really enjoyed my experience in the Savannah of Port of Spain, Trinidad, encountering both visual arts and performance at the same time.


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