Sunday January 11th, 2015. It was 5 pm when I confirmed my attendance to one of my friends’ performance at Gallery Monnin. Her name is Nerline Yacinthe. By 6pm, her family picked me up and off we proceeded to Petion-Ville. All along the way, reined a calm, joking and laughing atmosphere. After an hour drive, we arrived. Vehicle parked, we walked inside and, surprisingly, the entrance costs one candle.
Yeah shocking, I know. Apparently, the candles were to be lit sometimes throughout the night. Taking my candle and sitting down, I surveyed my surrounding. There were blue light mixed with red and white setting under a young mango tree. The resto had the feeling of a western cowboy bar, one would see in western cowboy movies. A small stage was set at the right side of the entrance. Musicians were testing out their instruments. The sound of the tambourine brought out a folkloric sensation.
Further, I observed that the staffs and musicians with the actors were all wearing a black shirt with white signs saying “12 Janvier 2010, nou sonje (January 12th, 2010, we remember)” and on the back of their shirts, it said “Havana guitar night.” About 30minutes later, the show finally started. Caleb Desrameaux, the impresario, moved to the microphone to do the introduction. He stated that the performers were a group of youngsters called “Zanmitay” who have put together a show in remembrance of the earthquake.
Right after his introduction, the singers, including Nerline, walked onto the stage. They were soon followed by the actors. The first scene consisted of a group of students getting together to study. In the midst of studying, they started talking about a classmate of theirs who made her appearance during their talk about her. Upon her arrival, complete silence befell the group. There was something peculiar about her entree into the scene. She was so quiet and looked to be so far removed.
Her classmates started to interrogate her, but she did not respond. She looked frozen, immobile and, in a blur, she started to sing “La vie pap fini” (life won’t end). The emotions she poured into that one song had the whole public in a trance. The tears that welled down her cheeks were astonishingly real. The public started questioning. “Did she lose someone during the earthquake?” mumbled the attendees. Later on, I found out that it was pure acting. Disappointed? Nope, for I could feel the awe in my soul. She was singing about losing her boyfriend. Her classmate carried her out of the stage, crying and unable to stand. Soon, I learned that her name was Yola Edmond. I am telling you, it brought sadness to my little heart.
Right after, showed up a guy in a black suit and ties and a white shirt. He sat down, crossed-legged, staring into nothingness. Next thing I knew, he started to laugh, but would break his laughter into intervals. Ok thought I. He did it again and again. After his fourth laugh, he started to talk. He was talking about a million-dollar business contract he was in the process of conducting. He was calling his friend, who never showed up. After much contemplation, you finally understand that he was part crazy. He threw the mike away and started walking around the stage. Meanwhile, two girls dressed in a prostitute attires with 2 beggars walked on the stage and acted their parts. It was quite a funny scene, especially when the beggars asked the guy in the business suit money and he was pushing them away as if they reek of pest. We didn’t understand the reason behind that particular scene, but we would find it later. Keep reading J .
Next, the performers walked on stage with chairs in hands. They sat down and Nerline acting as a church leader started greeting the worshippers. Yes, you have already guessed, right? The setting was indeed a church. But while they were arranging the scene, another performer took the mike. He was acting drunk and reciting a crazy speech. But I could grasp the essence of his speech, which was quite funny and full of meaning. “Sim te lavi, mwen pa tap lanmὸ, paske mwen pa anvi antὸ (If I was life, I wouldn’t want to be dead for I don’t want to be blamed)”.
Back to the church setting. The so called members were praising GOD, saying how HE was there when the earthquake happened. A woman explained how her daughter was saved from the collapse of her school. The story goes this way. As she cried out staring at the rubble of the school, her daughter showed up, dressed in different clothes and wearing full makeups while telling her mother that she was in a hotel when it happened—painting a sad yet true reality. As they say in creole “legliz la rele anmwey.” They stood up and together with the singers, the church members now turned into a choir, sang a song. With that scene coming to an end, can you guess who was back on the stage? No volunteers?
It was none other than the guy in the business suit, with the beggars, prostitutes and others who were back, while the sound of a rumbling like an earthquake could be heard. They were running, screaming looking for a shelter that could not be found. Once the sound stopped, all movements were also ceased. They all had dust (powder) and blood running down their bodies. The guy in the business suit searched for his fellow friend that he kept yelling for in the beginning. He found him dead. He bent over the body, shook him, but no movement. He was lifeless.
When he realized that his friend was dead, a cry could be heard. We saw others trying to get up but it looked like parts of their bodies were gone, or damaged. It was indeed pretty dramatic and terribly sad. A young man walked on stage and started to collect the bodies. First, he took the wounded, and then he proceeded with the dead bodies. At one point, the poor man became extremely tired. I felt pity for him. Another came to his rescue and together the place was cleared.
But you could see, feel and taste the struggle, the cry for help and the sadness. For the public, it was like reliving January 12th, 2010 in its integrality. During that performance, the song “deuil” (mourning) could be heard in the background, reinforcing the scene. Right after that, the whole crew came on the stage and started singing the song “Haiti pap peri.”(Haiti will not perish), ending the performance with intense emotions. I was sitting on the first row, but behind me, I could hear people citing they favorite artist of the night, and that was Yola Edmond. Truthfully, she deserved an award for her faultless and impeccable performance.
With the performance coming to a close, it was time for the final group of artists to come on stage. Unfortunately, it was getting late and we could not stay to watch when they lit the candles. I can’t wait to seeZanmitay on stage once more. In case you would be interested, go watch them. You will not regret it. As for the genius who wrote and produced this amazing piece? It was none other than Nerline Yacinthe. I commend her!