The Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (Gate) programme was introduced in 2004 as a replacement to the UNC’s Dollar-for-Dollar Education Plan which started in 2001.
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The Takdir tale of love returns to the stage
The Iere Theatre Productions group returns to the big stage in time for Indian Arrival Day with a production, Takdir, that pays tribute to the indentured labourers who reached these shores from the Indian subcontinent, including those who arrived on the last ship 100 years ago.
The storyline was extracted by playwright Victor Edwards from biographical accounts of the life, love and times of a woman called Ammakunnu who arrived in Trinidad on board one such ship.
Using research by genealogist Shamshu Deen including the first-hand remembrances of Ammakunnu’s late daughter, Nagamagh, Edwards crafts a story of love lost and regained when a young couple, by arranged marriage in India, rediscover each other “in another world,” according to Edwards, after five years apart.
The circumstances surrounding the eventual reunion occurred, in Edwards’ words, “at odds that would defy the bookmakers of any game of chance.”
In fact, much of the early action occurs in India and includes a string of remarkably fortuitous events leading to a chance encounter near a sugarcane field.
For more on this amazing story, interested patrons should attend one of the three performances scheduled for the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (Sapa) between May 26 and 28.
Takdir was actually first staged in 1995 on the 150th Anniversary of Indian Arrival but this more recent version, according to Edwards, “is not being done in the same production style as we did it 22 years ago.”
Deen told T&T Guardian the story is important because it covers “most aspects of indentureship” and is one of the more intriguing stories he had ever researched and recorded.
“I have seen many of these stories,” he said. “But this one takes the cake.”
For Edwards, the production fits into the vision of the group “to promote and highlight aspects of our heritage and culture as teaching and learning points for our society … or as ancestral memory.”
“We go to lengths to ensure that our theatre is balanced, historically correct as far as is possible and that there is authenticity in our presentation,” he added.
The acclaimed production of Sundar, for instance, recalled the life and times of renowned pioneering performer, Sundar Popo.
Edwards however laments that, much like Sundar, Takdir faces the prospect of a severely limited run, because of low corporate and limited state financial support.
“Corporate Trinidad and Tobago is being cautious,” he told T&T Guardian.
“It is never easy to produce theatre of this nature … especially at this time,” he said. “We are not just doing a play but creating an experience so that from the time the patron enters … or even before … he or she becomes aware that they are being transported,” he said.
Takdir plays to school audiences on May 25 and 26 at Sapa with 9 am showtimes; a May 26 Gala Night at 8 pm and two performances at the same venue on May 27 at 8 pm and May 28 at 7 pm.
Advance tickets are available from the SAPA Box Office, selected outlets and through the company by calling 788-3358 or emailing [email protected].