Hickling, Frederick W.
Author Affiliation, Ana.
Department of Community Health and Psychiatry
From Explanitations and Madnificent Irations to de Culcha Clash
Interventions: International Journal of Post Colonial Studies
Date of Publication
The use of culture as an instrument for education, consciousness-raising and demystification has been rediscovered and titled 'people's theatre' or 'popular theatre' in recent years. The use of popular culture as a designated instrument for individual and group psychotherapy is a more recent phenomenon. The paper traces the development of an active popular theatre movement in Jamaica, intensified in the decade of the 1970s and building on the blueprint of Marcus Garvey and Edelweiss Park in Kingston in the early 1910s. The 1970s saw the popular theatre trend produce a wave of performing groups, such as The Bellevue Cultural Team, Gun Court, and Sistren Theatre Collective. The prototype for the cultural therapy process began as an eight-week workshop with the reggae band Third World, and produced the popular theatre piece Explanitations in 1978. Cultural therapy emerged as a large-group psychotherapy process in the Bellevue Mental Hospital soon after, and was called 'sociodrama'. Between 1978 and 1981, the cultural therapy team at the Bellevue Mental Hospital produced annual pageants called Madnificent Irations, Visionated Penetrations, Madaptations, and Irations Explosion. The pageants told the story of the history of madness in a British postcolonial territory and the genesis of mental illness in specific patients of that hospital. The pageants challenged the participants and the audiences to re-evaluate preconceived notions and the stigma of 'madness'. The cultural therapy process was applied as popular theatre in Grenada in 1980, producing Genesis of Ites; in Provident Hospital, Baltimore, USA, in 1981, producing Cooling the Fires of Hell; and in Belize in 1982, producing Mongrel Juice. In Jamaica, the cultural therapy trend culminated in the novel fusion of dub music and the operetta in 1992, resulting in the production of Krossroads - de Culcha Clash.The psychotherapeutic outcome of the process is outlined and discussed.....