Educational institutions are being urged to share knowledge of actress, broadcaster and folklorist Louise Bennett-Coverley, popularly known as Miss Lou, with Jamaican children and young people to ensure that future generations are brought to knowledge of their culture and heritage by those of us who know the stories of our past.
In what is the centenary year of her birth, one local organisation, the Centre for Value Based Arts, is putting her work on show for young people to learn from, noting that it is the responsibility of the older generations to transfer the knowledge of our past to later generations. The organisation will be using a theatrical production titled Skip To My Lou – Lou, to bring across it’s message.
The production was written and performed by Amina Blackwood Meeks, Deon Silvera, Faith D’Agular and company, under the guidance of artistic director Kenny Salmon.
Skip To My Lou – Lou represents a biographical note on the life and works of Miss Lou. The production highlights Miss Lou’s relationship with her mother, capturing interesting moments in their relationship. It will also demonstrate her regard for women and her strong patriotism.
The story will be told through narration, music, dance, drama and poetry featuring award-winning performances from the JCDC’s Festival of the Performing Arts.
The work will come to life at Center for Value Based Arts, at Coke Memorial Church Hall in downtown Kingston. This venue has historical significance as it was said to be the first venue at which a young Miss Lou performed.
The production will open on Monday, October 28, with a special midday performance, and continue with performances for schools on October 29, 30, 31 and November 1 at 10:00 am daily.
Miss Lou was born in Kingston on September 7, 1919. Her love for writing and performance developed from childhood and saw her earn a scholarship from the British Council, becoming in 1945 the first black student to study at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London, England. After working in broadcasting and theatre in the UK, she returned to Jamaica in the 1950s and began her work in local theatre, radio, television and as a cultural figure.
She is best known for her writing in the local dialect and her children’s television talent show Ring Ding which aired on the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation between 1970 and 1982.
The last decade of her life was spent in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada. She died on July 27, 2006 at Scarborough Grace Hospital, after collapsing at her home. Her body was flown home and, following a State funeral, she was interred at National Heroes’ Park in St Andrew.