From the now standard Extempo Debate exploring the “Big Idea” of the day to dramatised readings of the classics, and to the staple Stand & Deliver open mic, festival attendees online can once again take delight in some of their favourite festival treats.
Two sessions of the festival’s popular Stand & Deliver open mic will be hosted for the first time in virtual format. The first will take place from 4.30 p.m. on day one of the festival as part of the Future Friday afternoon of speculative fiction readings and discussions. The second instalment, on Saturday 19, at 1.30 p.m., will afford writers of all genres the opportunity to participate through their own video submissions.
At noon on Sunday, the festival’s signature Extempo Debate will pick up on the theme of political leadership established in the preceding discussion, “A question of leadership”. Extempo champions Black Sage and Brian London will face off, sharing their witty insights and responding to audience cues.
Marking the 50th anniversary of the beloved novel Crick Crack Monkey by author Merle Hodge, organisers have specially commissioned a virtual dramatised reading, adapted and directed by elisha efua bartels, which will immediately follow the Extempo Debate at 12.30 p.m.
And, in a twist this year, organisers will introduce two original fictional characters, “Bokey & Rona”, in a debut presentation of comedy at the festival. Conceptualised and produced by FemcomTT duo Lisa Allen-Agostini and Louris Lee Sing, the pair will also present their “Say it like a Trini” segment, highlighting the pronunciations and meanings of Trinidad Creole words, in a celebration of our national language. These episodic features will be broadcast in the segments between programmed festival events.
The transition to a fully virtual festival, as ordained by the universe or Murphy, was inevitable under the circumstances. However, the retention of some of these distinguishing features of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, and the addition of new and equally relevant ones, “remains a fiercely conscious act to locate the annual, national literary festival within the Trinidad and Tobago cultural landscape, its place of origin” says festival director Marina Salandy-Brown.
She continued, “We have so many talented artists in our small country, it would be unthinkable not to use this platform to showcase work that celebrates words, stories and ideas.”
All festival events are free and accessible to all, with no tickets or registration. The programme will be streamed live at bocaslitfest.com/2020/live, facebook.com/bocaslitfest, and youtube.com/bocaslitfest.
The National Gas Company is the festival’s title sponsor and First Citizens is its lead sponsor. Main sponsors are One Caribbean Media (OCM) and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts. The National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) is a supporting sponsor and The University of the West Indies (The UWI) and Massy Foundation are sponsors.