The Talk Tent
The idea of the Talk Tent was born out of a need to express using the medium of the voice. The culture of Trinidad and Tobago has always been a vocal one. Indeed the need for expression gave birth to the speakers" who in their own way represented the views of their environment. But there is need to preserve the culture and the Talk Tent does just that by nurturing the future voices of the culture to sharpen their skills before venturing forth.
As Paul Keens-Douglas said, "One often heard the words Oral Traditions being bandied about, yet one to walk far, and look hard, to find one of our famous Midnight Robbers or Pierrot Grenades, not to mention a Tobago Speech Band."
Keens-Douglas, one of Trinidad and Tobago's foremost exponents of the vocal traditions, noticed the disparity between the avenues for expression of Oral Tradition and the other forms of artistic expression. After all Steelband had Panorama, Calypso had the tent and mas men had the mas itself.
In 1983, Trinidad's first Talk Tent, Talkie Talkie, was launched While the usual roles in the Calypso Tent assert that the singers sing and the Emcees (Master of Ceremony) talk. The tent is such that the spoken words reign supreme. Here the talkers talk while the Emcees sing. To be such the Emcee needs to be a true artist, consummate in his craft, literally being able to be a one man show.
Over the last decade or so the Talk Tent has become a fixture on the cultural calendar and indeed along with Champs In Concert brings a fitting end to the annual Carnival celebrations.
In addition to Paul Keens-Douglas, a number of creative individuals such as Miguel Browne, Deborah Jean-Baptiste-Samuel, Felix Edinborough, have been joined by counterpart voices from the region such as Amina Blackwood (Jamaica), George "Fish" Alphonse (St. Lucia) and from even further afield from the USA, Linda Goss.
Time has come again when the Talk Tent will once again raise its voices and we the mere man on the street will be taken back to the folklore and characters of yesteryear. The contemporary views of modern life that are all so refreshing and entertaining will be brought out for listening. Some people say that there is wisdom in the voice of tradition, it can honestly be said that the wisdom of the land is indeed being preserved and transmitted over the stillness of time.