The cinematic life of the Sistren Theatre Collective: Forays into biographical documentary

Ebrahim, Haseenah
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This article explores two biographical video documentaries produced by the Sistren Theater Collective of Jamaica. Together, the documentaries, Miss Amy and Miss May and The Drums Keep Sounding, document the lives of three Jamaican women activists: Amy Bailey, May Farquharson and Louise Bennett-Coverley. Although video/film production never attained a prominent role in Sistren’s approach to its activism, which focused on participatory drama to address issues of concern to working-class black women, the documentaries produced in the 1980s and 1990s allowed the Collective to expand its reach beyond the limitations imposed by the geographical proximity necessary for live theater. The article examines the structuring devices of these two biographical documentaries and interrogates how the utilization of the medium of video raises class-based ambiguities within the Collective’s mission to celebrate the lives of Caribbean women.
Sistren Theatre Collective, Biographical documentaries, Jamaica documentaries