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Lest We Forget

(Miami edition) a multi-sensory collaborative performance by Nyugen E. Smith (Trinidad/Haiti/USA) and Marvin Fabien (Dominica/Martinique), derived from their ongoing dialog related to the impacts of hurricanes and climate change in the Caribbean and the most vulnerable parts of the United States. The performance takes the form of a speech delivered by Smith with an original soundscape composed and mixed live by Fabien. This thrilling and highly relevant work is inspired by the speeches delivered by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica and Prime Minister Gordon Browne of Barbuda at the United Nations General Assembly in 2017, post hurricanes Maria and Irma. Text from these speeches is combined with text sourced from transcripts of news interviews with Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carmen Yulín Cruz, scholars and residents of Puerto Rico. The result is a new document that attempts to articulate the extent of the physical, emotional and psychological damage caused by these storms, warns against ignoring the changing climate and warming oceans, highlights the plight of the affected, and calls attention to government’s failure to live up to their promises. With every reperformance of Lest We Forget, the plight of the victims of an increasing number of super storms and the call to action is resounded.  


The soundscape created by Marvin Fabien was influenced by the contemporary music culture of the Caribbean and the emotional scars experienced by the people of the Caribbean during the 2017 hurricane season. The sound extrapolates rhythms from  Dancehall and Bouyon to recreate an unstable environment, an atmosphere that presents Caribbean as a space somewhere between paradise and disaster. The sound is mixed and played live to emphasize the importance of the speech and to reinforce the creative energies between the two artists. The sound employed in this performance acts as a converging element; between performance and sound which amplifies the discourse on climate change.


Smith and Fabien perform in business suits custom-tailored from blue and brown plastic tarps-a highly valued material utilized during storm and disaster relief worldwide.



The Paradox (“with physical and emotional difficulty…”) 2017 Photo: Nyugen E. Smith


This image was taken in the rented apartment in Miami, FL where we stayed prior to our performance. While having a conversation about performance, politics, climate change and the future of the caribbean in relation to climate change, we decided to stage a photo which in reflection, related to a line from Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit speech to the UN General Assembly post Hurricane Maria and Irma. He said “With physical and emotional difficulty, I have left my bleeding nation to be with you here today because these are the moments for which the United Nations exists…”  

We speculated about Skerrit’s accommodations and other luxuries that would be customary during his trip to New York City for official state business. Perhaps his comfortable accommodations were a source of the “emotional difficulty” because as his country’s citizens were in Dominica dealing with the aftermath of the hurricanes’ devastation, he was not there.

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