Picton Folk Performing Co. Pleas for Help

Darren Corridon, President of the Picton Folk Performing Company
Darren Corridon, President of the Picton Folk Performing Company

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Recorded: March 06, 2009
Posted: March 10, 2009

DARREN CORRIDON: I am the President of the Picton Folk Performing Company. The issue right now is getting a place for the group. We are asking anybody out there who can help us out right now to get a spot where we can practice for the upcoming Best Village season. Right now we do not have a place and it is one of the forces we are presently reckoning with Best Village. We have to vacate the place we have right now by March 31, 2009. It is already hard not having a covered facility where we can practice but it will be harder if we do not have any place where we can practice. When rain falls or when the sun is too hot we cannot practice. We will either get wet from the rain or the ground will be too hot from the sun. Every year, we try our best in Best Village. We were placed ninth overall last year. In 2006 we won the drumology and in 2007 we won the spiritual. We won the first ever junior champs in the limbo competition in 2008 and the first ever Gayelle Dance Past Competition on Independence Day. The group has won many competitions and also placed second in many competitions and we have entered many categories.

The group has a singing tutor, Mr. Stephen Singh, who is also the director and play writer, and we have the dance choreographer, Mr. Carlos Griffith, who is also the PRO for the group. We have young and old good dancers, drummers, singers, pannists and so on. We take part in everything and when we go out there we give our best and everybody gives us backup. When Best Village had their sports we participated. We have a girl right now who will be training for the national netball team and we have a member who received a scholarship to go away and study. The group is not just about dancing alone. This is a family group. We were one of the first groups to host our own dinner and awards presentation. None of the other big groups have ever done those things so far. Those trophies make the members in the group feel appreciated. The members receive trophies for things like most disciplined dancer, most disciplined drummer, best dancer, best drummer, most hard working executive, most disciplined executive and so on.

The support we are looking for right now is a place to house the group and we are pleading with anybody out there to help us. We will be thankful for any assistance.

Carlos Griffith, PRO and dance choreographer of the Picton Folk Performing Company 
Carlos Griffith, PRO and dance choreographer of the Picton Folk Performing Company

CARLOS GRIFFITH: Darren and I came into this group around the same time. He came in as the drumming tutor and I came in as the dance tutor. We were asked to join the group by the deceased first President and Founder of the group, Ms. Carlene Hendrickson, who really started to inspire these young people to come around.

When we first came into the group they were like, "You could come and teach my group to dance?" And I would be thinking, "Me and them. Look how these people looking. I ain't going up there; I belong to North West. I ain't going to teach them". But sometimes when God inspires you and God gives you a gift to do certain things in life, don't care how you try to refuse you have to do what you have to do at the end of the day. I kept running and running until eventually I was really blocked by Ms. Carlene and one or two of the members and they told me I needed to come right now and there was no way out. Since I joined there has been a sense of love, togetherness and a family relationship in the group and this started with the mother of the group, Ms. Carlene Hendrickson.

Ms. Carlene would cook and do all sorts of things just to keep the aspect and the culture alive in the yard. At no time you would come here and find the yard under some sort of depressed or sad moment. It is always some joyous thing like music, cooking or some joyous occasion will always be happening. This evening it sort of touched me in a way knowing that the time is coming close for the group to vacate the premises. This comes like birth. It comes like out of a mother's womb. You are born, nurtured and you grow. It comes like when you are born, it is hard for you to leave your mother. It is hard for you to leave home sometimes, but at the end of the day, the reality you are faced with is that you have to leave and go on and make yourself a man or a woman. Just like in this position where we are right now, we have to move on. We cannot sit and sulk and be sad. We have to move on with the same spirit. We are dealing with young people from the age of three to nineteen. They are young people who need to be motivated and inspired. They are also willing young people who are educated and talented in all aspects you can think about. We even have members of the group here who are at the age of eighteen and nineteen teaching music in South East. We have Panmen and young dancers who go out and represent us in talent shows and come back with good results.

The group has members who are tutoring young people in the afternoons for their exams and who are really illiterate in certain areas. We try to help them in every area we can afford to. We do not intend to fight a battle. We have to face the reality that we have to vacate the premises. Therefore, I am pleading to the general public to help us in whatever way they can. I am pleading to the authorities who are in charge of culture to please help us. We need a hand in locating a venue for everything I have spoken about to keep these young people together. Our aim is to keep them together because they are young people and we do not want them to go astray. Plus, we know that Laventille is also stigmatized for one thing. We are the belly and the grassroots of Laventille and we intend to show the public that not everything they say about Laventille is true. As a matter of fact, most of what people are saying about Laventille is not true and these youths are how we intend to show people that Laventille has good things; Laventille has positive things; it still has the best. When you go back down the line most of the best sports women, ministers and other people from all sorts of high offices came out of Laventille.

We intend to show them that they are not the first and going on but we have the young ones who are coming to keep that aspect of things still going and when they step up a little further, these young people will be walking in the foot steps to keep Laventille's good name. When you look around today all over Trinidad and Tobago has crime. You cannot run from crime anymore. We have to face the facts about crime. What we want to do as a Best Village group seeing that we are dealing with young people, is to keep them away from the crime, the illicit drugs and the promiscuous things that life has to offer and that is our main focus here this evening. We do not want to say the group is not functioning. Beside dancing and singing in the group, we also have lectures on topics they should be aware of like sexually transmitted diseases and so on. I myself will sit down with these young ladies even though they may be bashful to speak with me, but I will say to them, "Let me tell all yuh something, if all yuh come to my rehearsal and you can't rehearse because it's your time of the month or nature is taking it's course, then tell me." That is the kind of relationship I intend to have with them.

Here comes as their home and we the executive elders of this group are their parents when they leave their homes. When they come here and their parents see by nine o'clock in the night they are not at home they will call us. We are like their second parents and whatever happens we do not intend to let them out of our hands to go astray. We are doing our best and we are pleading to the general public out there to try and assist us in any way they can because you know and I know there are lots of businesses and people in society who are willing to lend a helping hand. I hope after this interview and the message is sent out, people realize we have a commitment with these kids and we intend to keep up with it to the best of our abilities with all of our hard work and dedication. I know it would have been the will of the deceased President, Ms. Carlene Hendrickson and she would like us to do our best to keep these young people. She was very particular with these young people. There are times when they would come to our house and sleep on a chair and who can't sleep on a chair will sleep on the floor or on the counter. They will lie down there and sleep until the next day because nobody goes home. Even though things have changed we are still the same way with them. Sometimes when they come here for practice we have to run them because they do not want to go home.

We are very particular about keeping these youths. Given what is taking place in the area, I thank God up to this day and because of our word to them they are not involved in all the crime that is taking place or being in the middle of gunfire and so on. I thank God they are still here to sit with us and say something positive because we also teach them to speak positively. We have a very strong spiritual relationship with these people here. Everything we do in this yard we do it with God. We start our rehearsals with a word of prayer. We involve Christ in everything we do in this yard. Any function we have we pray; we put God first. Once again, as the PRO of the group, I just want the public to know we have to vacate the premises by March 31, 2009 and we are seeking your help. We have seen other venues in Laventille where reasonable negotiations can be made because we want to keep it in Laventille. I also want people to know that the Picton Folk Performing Company as the sister group to North West Laventille, we are the vibration of Laventille right now.

Sometimes if we do not rehearse for one day you might find people passing by would stop and ask, "All yuh didn't rehearse today?" Even the Christians in the community talk about the drums because the drums send out a message. Even some of the fellas who are involved in [illegality] up here would come to the President or they would meet one or two executives from the group and say, "I regret not being in the group today because if I was in the group I wouldn't be where I am today and this wouldn't be going on with me. I wish I could come back." They themselves would confess and say they cannot because of how far they have gone and they wouldn't do that to jeopardize anybody's life in this yard. Before I close I would like to say that Picton Folk Performing Company is the belly of Laventille. We are the ones who raise the pores of the people and we are the ones who raise their heads and when they see and hear what we are doing with the young people in the area; they are very pleased. I am just sorry some of the elders from the area are not around to say something. We even have the support of the police. Sometimes practice goes on until ten or eleven o'clock in the night and every so often they will pass and sometimes stop to look in and ask if everything was in order.

Sometimes the police will come into the yard and watch the group practice and say, "All yuh doing a very nice job. Keep it up and keep the spirit alive." We have the support of the police. If when they pass and they do not see us in the yard, the next day they would ask, "What happen yesterday? We didn't see all yuh." We would let them know we went to a function and so on. Sometimes the police will drive slowly behind the youths to make sure they reach safely into their area. Whenever we use Desperadoes Pan Theatre we will let the police know we are practicing up there until a certain hour and they will pass every so often to make sure these young people are well secured. Once again, I am pleading to the public to lend your support to us in locating a rehearsal spot for us to keep these young people together and not have them go astray.


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