Glendon Morris Speaks

Panman - Copper Art by Glendon Morris - 2004
Panman - Copper Art by Glendon Morris - 2004

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I lecture to Carnival judges Reporters
Interview Recorded: April 25, 2005
Posted: May 15, 2005

I lecture to judges who judge Carnival. There are a few of us who lecture, like Geraldo Vieira, for example. There are people who are in the Carnival Fraternity for a long while, like Mertle Bernard, who was judging from since in the old PNM days. When you have new judges that come on board, you cannot rely on the older judges to teach them, because they do not have that time. It is an ongoing thing, because judges go out and judges come in. We also run seminars all the time. The judges are now forming an International Judges Body. But judges need to know about craft, about skills, blending of colours, how to section bands, which presentation looks better, what colour goes before another colour, what enhances your band and things like that. Sometimes you wonder why one band will win and not the other band, but when judges sit down, they are in the best position to view what is happening out there.

We use the Aggregate System; it is not like if three judges will sit and decide that they like a band. We take off the highest and the lowest mark and the other five is what we use as the mark. We use seven in all the different competitions. If somebody tends to be biased, or one way or the other, we will take off the top and the bottom marks and we use the five. You cannot go on the basis that if you have a friend playing you could give them ninety-five out of a hundred; the chances are their marks will be thrown out anyway. Judges have to learn from a fresh start. I have screened judges and sometimes I would even say, "look, you see that guy, don't even worry about him." You can interview a judge and know if he is a good judge or not by his remarks. You ask him questions like how he feels about something. For instance, I asked a guy what he thought about Peter Minshall, and he said, "Peter Minshall, that is the best thing that ever happened to Trinidad and Tobago." I would not want that guy judging, because you are supposed to be objective. Peter Minshall could be the best thing, but on that day, do not tell me you are going to put him high because he is a good man. That is poor judgment. Although I talked about the nakedness and the beads, I remember another guy, and he said, "Man, you see that? I do not even want to see that." He thought he was doing something by saying that and we would have been impressed. But I did not want him to tell me that because a bikini and beads could look good too if it is done properly and how it is presented. You have to judge what comes before you. We had to take him off; we had to scrap him.

You as a judge must use your own imagination, your own intelligence and decide whether this is good, and how it was presented and score your marks to suit. Once you start of with, "You see that, I do not want to see that", it is the wrong way. You must sit and watch the presentation and make up your mind about what it is you want to do, and that's it. All people cannot be judges of course. Every year we go through that system and we have to weed some out. Sometimes you look at the scores and you may not understand. We always have a post mortem after Carnival. But one of the things we do during our Seminars is set up our video and run clippings. We would put the judges in groups and have one senior judge with them, and that judge will come up, and we would let them score the costume. Then they would talk amongst themselves and decide why they scored the costume with a seventy percent average instead of a ninety. They must be able to explain why they gave an average mark. Their reasons could be, "Well, the costume was in control of him, he wasn't in control of the costume. The colour was confusing, it didn't create an impact because that colour didn't blend good together. The costume was cumbersome, or the shape was strange." This is what we go through and it makes a good judge. It makes him know what he is doing; he actually learns the aspect of judging mas.

If those new judges were to sit with the old judges and they come with a consensus of why they scored the way they did, they are learning and that is where they start from, this is how it should be done. It helps a lot. It helps a lot when they can come to the mas camps and see the skills, see how the costumes are made and things like that. They must see the costumes a littler earlier. In the big costumes, with each one that comes into the Savannah, we have two track marks, and both of them are fifteen points each. One is skill, which depends on what you apply for whether it is cane, wire, aluminum, metal, molding; a lot of different categories you judge. The other fifteen points is how your costume looks at close range. Not just on the stage, but that they can see up front what kind of work went into it, how the structure of the costume is, whether it is going to fall down on stage, or if it looks cumbersome. You must get a close eye view of the costume, and out of the fifteen points, you will get ten or whatever.

I am also Chairman of the Review Committee, so any complaints come in, they come to me. I had about four this year. One was a legitimate complaint from a very new band, "The Washing" with Brian Mac Farlane. He had a lovely costume, but for some reason he did not get judged on the track and the fifteen points threw him out of the semi finals. The head judge Teddy, could not explain to me why Mac Farlane did not get judged. I said to Teddy, "You have to bring him in the Semi-Finals, you have no choice because it is not his fault." We had to bring him in. Then now, we decided to go over the score sheets and realized that another one, "Legends" with Big Mike, had no track marks and he too was out. We had to get on the telephone fast and call Big Mike and tell him, "Listen, we have a little problem, come down and let us solve it." They were very understanding, and we did not have to go to court or anything. Last year we almost had a court battle because the guy was vindictive. We showed him even though he got fifteen points, the top of it nobody ever got on the track, and he could not come in. He said, "I do not care. You didn't judge me and I am taking you to court." We settled out of court. Carnival has a lot of things behind the scene that people do not know about, but we deal with it.


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