Review of “How Papa Noel Forgot Haiti”

Haïti Progrés

January 05 – 11, 2005
Vol. 22, No. 43


by Margaret Féquière

“How Papa Noel Forgot Haiti” is a lovely musical, written and directed
by Paul Uhry Newman, about a Gonaïves family coping with economic
hardship and the devastating impact of Hurricane Jeanne, which ravaged
Haiti’s northwest last September.

Paul Uhry Newman along with Jean Jean-Pierre and Mapou Productions
deliver a highly political play about Haiti’s culture and current
events, mixed with a bit of history. So far, there has only been one
performance on Christmas Eve at Lincoln Center in Manhattan.

Dancers wearing traditional white costumes and performing folkloric
Haitian dance routines open the play with a narrator introducing the
story. It is a happy, chaotic, and fast-paced scene until the young sick
child named Magali, played by Danika Silencieux, sings Haiti’s most
popular and beloved Christmas song, Petit Papa Noël. Ms. Silencieux’s
powerful voice captured the audience.

Magali is sick and her only desire is to put together a lantern that
will shine so brightly that Papa Noel can find his way to Haiti. The
country, wracked by economic woes, political turmoil, and natural
disasters like Hurricane Jeanne, sorely needs him. Papa Noël, played by
Hollywood actor Danny Glover, expresses his esteem for the Haitian
people and their on-going struggle for freedom and development. But he
allows himself to be caught up in a political web created by Haiti’s
so-called “friends,” powers like the U.S. and France.

Tant Viktwa (Carole Alexis), the narrator and Magali’s neighbor, tells
us that children are dying all over the island from preventable
diseases. Magali, she explains, is a survivor thanks to the financial
generosity of an aunt living in Miami.

When the generous aunt, Celina, played by Myriam Barthélus, comes for a
visit, the play takes a humorous turn. Celina’s arrival highlights the
comic but thorny tensions which have developed between Haitians living
in the diaspora and those in Haiti. Haitians in the audience were
particularly delighted with the cultural clashes portrayed.

The play’s message, of course, is about the true meaning of Christmas
and Santa Claus, or Papa Noel. As in most Christmas plays, we learn that
the season is about altruism and solidarity. Different characters
present this, from a Cuban doctor tirelessly giving his services in
Haiti’s hills to Magali’s generous aunt.

As her family and friends pull together to help Magali through her
illness, we are reminded that the true meaning of Christmas is not about
Papa Noël bringing gifts but rather about how Papa Noël lives within
each and every one of us based on what we do throughout the year to help
our fellow human beings. For Haitians living in the diaspora, it is
about working hard in a country that is not yours and finding the means
to help support family members back home. This musical will resonate
especially with immigrants, as it depicts their struggles.

Although the actors delivered fine performances, the acoustics of the
hall at Lincoln Center were terrible. Key scenes became unintelligible,
such as that where Papa Noel’s helper, Watson (Emmanuel Obas), tells the
history of Haiti and the finale, when the Cuban doctor and other
characters deliver the play’s closing message.

Article copyrighted Haiti Progres, Inc. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Progres.

BoingBoing note on what wiki is good at

The following is reposted from BoingBoing…

Shirky: Wikipedia is better than Brittanica on net-centric axes:

Cory Doctorow:
Clay Shirky’s posted more about Wikipedia on Many2Many, responding to danah boyd’s post about how Wikipedia won’t be an encylopedia. The thing Clay really nails this time in the idea that “new media don’t succeed because they’re like the old media, only better: they succeed because they’re worse than the old media at the stuff the old media is good at, and better at the stuff the old media are bad at.”

And of course, sometimes Wikipedia is better, since, as with the Indian Ocean tsunami example, Britannica simply has no offering. So, at the margin, a casual user who wants free access to a Web site that offers a communally-compiled and non-authoritative overview of a recent event will prefer the Wikipedia to nothing, which is what Britannica offers. In this case, Wikipedia comes out on top, and walking along several of those axes like cost, availability, topicality, and breadth of coverage, Wikipedia has the advantage, and in many cases, that advantage is increasing with time

Now Britannica doesn’t want this to be true (god, do they not want this to be true) and so they try to create litmus tests around authoritativeness — “WARNING: Do not read anything that does not come from an institutional source!” But this is as silly as audiophiles dismissing the MP3 format because it wasn’t an improvement in audio quality, missing entirely that the package of “moderate quality+improved cost and distribution” was what made the format great. Considering MP3 as nothing more than a lossy compression scheme missed the bundle of services that it enabled.


Should open source encyclopedias defer to expert opinions?

Here’s an interesting op-ed on The author, one of the founders of Wikipedia, makes a few good points about the perceived weaknesses of the open source encyclopedia. However, he relies too much on the Expert Fallacy in arguing for a change in the project. The article is worth reading in order to understand some of the most pointed objections about wiki projects, but the commenters, especially Kasreyn are just as worthy of attention.

Why Wikipedia Must Jettison Its Anti-Elitism ||

By lsanger
Fri Dec 31st, 2004 at 12:42:24 AM EST
Wikipedia has started to hit the big time. Accordingly, several critical articles have come out, including “The Faith-Based Encyclopedia” by a former editor-in-chief of Britannica and a very widely-syndicated AP article that was given such titles as “When Information Access Is So Easy, Truth Can Be Elusive”.

These articles are written by people who appear not to appreciate the merits of Wikipedia fully. I do, however; I co-founded Wikipedia.