Minott Egglestone, Ruth
Teacher and Caribbeanist @ Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (Edinburgh)
Dr Ruth Minott Egglestone was educated at Wolmer’s Girls’ School in Kingston, Jamaica before going on to study at The University of the West Indies (Mona), UNAM (Mexico), Queen’s (Canada) and the University of Hull (UK). She is a specialist Teacher of English language and literature with a Master’s in Latin American and Peninsular Spanish Literature and a PhD in Drama. She is preparing a biography of Roger Mais for publication, in association with its author Dr Karina Williamson, and spent time as a Fellow at IASH (Edinburgh) as part of that process. As a Caribbeanist, her research tends to focus on pedagogy, and literature at the crossroads of culture. As a teacher, she uses literature as a way into cultural studies and cultural studies as a platform for inclusive education. She currently has three books in progress, the first of which is called "Beanstalk to Macca Tree: Jamaicanising Pantomime".
Geographical location :
Research Area and Interest : pedagogy, and literature at the crossroads of culture
- Summary: During the late 1990s, I became a cultural archivist recording through conversations with the elderly, first-hand accounts of how drama under the aegis of the Little Theatre Movement of Jamaica tapped folk tradition and contemporary popular culture to create a distinctive theatrical form called the National Pantomime. The lesson of the theatre was that national identity depended on remembering, and passing on, shared understandings of how we steady ourselves in the present with the wisdom of the past in order to weather the storms of the future. For more than 80 years, Jamaican Pantomime has provided an opportunity for self-definition articulated by the cast for the audience’s perusal and amusement. The Jamaican sense of humour pivots around a moralistic but redemptive worldview and an ironic response to hardship and folly. When done well, the Pantomime experience encapsulates a complex, multi-layered, and nuanced game played among equals against the knowledge that, in Jamaican society, any irreconcilable ‘conflict of incompatibles’ results too easily in violence. The trajectory of the LTM’s experiment in theatre has produced a new dramatic form, but it has also provided a model for unpacking what it means to be ‘Jamaican’. The book "Beanstalk to Macca Tree: Jamaicanising Pantomime" differs from the thesis because its purpose is to signpost rather than to map. This paper seeks to present multiple lessons distilled from the culmination of a long research project, indeed a labour of love, which could not have been undertaken without the support of the Society for Caribbean Studies.