Tourists thrilled at Yardwé in Fort King George

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Tyreese Montano, right, gives an entertaining speech at the Traditional Carnival Living Museum. Photo by David Reid

Kinnesha George-Harry

FORT King George came alive as traditional Carnival characters thrilled the handful of tourists and locals at the Tobago Traditional Carnival Living Museum.

At three showings on Wednesday, visitors engaged in a tour as the Tobago Performing Arts Company (TPAC) partnered with the THA Department of Culture for a yardwé tour.

The tour, which ran for 90 minutes, featured traditional mas characters, kaiso music, steelpan, tamboo bamboo, along with traditional snacks and drinks.

Yardwé, according to TPAC’s assistant production manager on the production, Tyler Graham, is an immersive, traditional carnival living museum that combines carnival history with local music, performance and procession.

“The goal of yardwé is to preserve the old-time carnival as well as to highlight a lot of the carnival characters.”

The Tobago Performing Arts Company held a procession on Wednesday with drummers leading the way at the opening of the Traditional Carnival Living Museum at Fort King George. Photo by David Reid

Questioned on the choice of name, he said: “It’s a combination of the word “yard” as in the different ‘yards’ that are common for persons to experience during the carnival period. The second part of the name “wé” comes from the term lavway/lavwé which refers to call and response type chant that is common throughout Tobagonian Carnival.

The yards featured in this show are the barrackyard, the rotunda, the gayelle and the kai​​so tent. This, as he noted that the production is a reminisce of the old yard productions that are common throughout TT.

Dwayne White Jr, left, battles Zari Kerr in a stickfighting contest, at the Tobago Performing Arts Company’s Traditional Carnival Living Museum at Fort King George, last Wednesday. Photo by David Reid

“People are able to interact with the different carnival characters within the bunch of different spaces. They’re able to experience it in a way that is reminiscence of old-time carnival – we’re really facilitating a kind of walk-through yard type museum at the different yards – a walk through the past.”

He said the show is done yearly for Carnival, adding that the production caters to everyone.

MidNight Robbers square off in TPAC’s YARDWÉ cultural show at Fort King George last Wednesday. Photo by David Reid

“The first show caters to both primary and high school students because we really want to educate them as to what the old-time carnival was about. We know we do have issues today of losing what the actual real carnival is. Outside of that, we just really want to show the rest of the world about what Tobago can provide.”