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HomeNewsArchivesCarabana Ensemble Theater Offers 'Arona'

Carabana Ensemble Theater Offers 'Arona'

Dec. 23, 2004 – Carabana Ensemble Theater Co. takes to the Cinnamon Bay Campground amphitheater on Jan. 13 with "Arona," the story of St. Thomas folklorist Arona Petersen. It begins at 8 p.m.
The free performances run every Thursday through the end of April.
The one-woman play stars St. Thomas resident Christina Harper as Petersen. The evening includes the performance and a post-performance discussion.
It is the latest in a series by St. John playwright Clarence Cuthbertson. The "Arona" production is sponsored by the Friends of the V.I. National Park.
"We think it's a great way to introduce visitors to the culture of the Virgin Islands and a way for people who live here to see theater about cultural icons," Friends president Joe Kessler said.
He said the Friends group is working with St. John hotels to bring their guests to Cinnamon Bay Campground for performances.
Petersen was a cultural icon who returned home to St. Thomas after decades abroad, including a long stint in New York. She was born in 1908 and died in 1994.
She wrote "Herbs and Proverbs," "Kreole Ketch N' Keep," and "Food and Folklore of the Virgin Islands." She also wrote a column in dialect for the V.I. Daily News.
She told this reporter in a 1987 interview that "Herbs and Proverbs" came out of 1970s trip to Central America to explore the influences of geography on food. "People are seeing there's merit in the use of herbs," she said.
She went on to open a restaurant in Nisky called the Pit Stop and another one in her house called the Hillside Caterers.
Cuthbertson bemoans the loss of attention to culture. "Where is the Folkloric company now?" he said, speaking of the Folkloric Dancers, a long-defunct group started by Petersen.
He said that Petersen represents a time long lost in the Virgin Islands.
"There's not many of her kind still around," Cuthbertson said.
"Arona" is the third in a series by Cuthbertson dealing with the lives of well-known Virgin Islands women. He started with "Queen Mary," the woman who led the 1878 Fireburn in St. Croix, before moving closer to home with "Neni Myrah." This was a play about Myrah Keating Smith, a St. John midwife whose name graces the island's community health center.

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