Antigua and Barbuda Wins at C’bean Secondary Schools Drama Festival

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By Theresa Goodwin

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An onstage accident, which caused a minor injury to her foot, didn’t prevent former Antigua Girls’ High School student, Khadelia Williams from winning the Best Actress award during the 2019 Caribbean Secondary Schools Festival in St Lucia over the weekend. 

The Antigua and Barbuda team also won the overall competition and secured several other prizes and awards.

Williams was playing Makeba — the protagonist in the play The Long Walk, which is written and Directed by Educator, Zahra Airall.

The play tells the story of a woman, Makeba, who defied all odds and risks her life to keep her child with her. The story, which the team said was well received, was inspired by an unnamed female slave whose information was found at the National Archives of Antigua and Barbuda.

As explained by Airall, there was an intense scene in the play where Makeba (Williams) is punished by the plantation owners and her hand is forced into a fiery coal pot as punishment.

During the performance in St Lucia, the said coal pot overturned unbeknownst to the director.

“From where I was with the technical crew, I could not see exactly how it fell. But I was so happy to see other members of the cast improvising and trying to fan the flames.

“Because Khadelia never stopped acting and moving I thought she was not hurt. It was only later I realised the scream I’d heard during the acting process was real because the coal pot fell on her foot but she never stopped acting,” Airall said.

Williams’ foot was swollen as a result, but it has since gotten better.

The festival, now in its 25th year, was held from November 3rd to 9th.

Antigua and Barbuda swept the competition after it came up against close to 90 participants from four other countries within the region.

In addition to copping the top prize and the Best Actress award, the Antiguan team also won Best Sound effects, Most Innovative Set design, Award for Best Directing, Best Production. 

The team also received an award for the Best Overall contingent for its cooperation, interaction, conduct and willingness to participate in activities throughout the festival.

Airall also stated that the story was well received by the St Lucian audience.

“One of the judges said she cried almost throughout the entire production and could not turn away even from the hard scenes. She also loved the risks that we took with the production and thought that it was very successful,” Airall said.

 Meanwhile, Williams said she was pleased with her performance on the night of the show.

 “I would say I am very proud of myself because it was a lot of work and it took a lot in terms of production. I am proud of the fact that I was able to get out of my comfort zone and played my part well,” Williams said.

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