‘Once on this island’ was a shot in the dark and something I never thought I would be directing. And seeing it all come to an end after 9 weeks, all I can say is how thankful I am for the experience. 

The musical explores so many different themes, and I think something we can all take away from this show is the power of community. ‘Once on this island’ isn’t just the stereotypical upbeat musical that follows the story of a young girl who falls in love with a dashing stranger, it is so much more than that. This is Durham’s first ever all POC cast and crew musical, and I cannot stress enough how significant this is! This isn’t just a musical, it is a statement. This musical is revolutionary for Durham and its theatre, and I have been so fortunate to be part of this, and hopefully be part of the catalyst for change. It is my pleasure to have been given this opportunity from Sightline productions, to direct my first ever musical as a fresh, and present the Assembly Rooms Theatre with something very unique. 

I cannot thank my team enough for all their hard work, time, and dedication, I honestly couldn’t have done this production without them. Bri, my co-director has been my rock throughout this journey, Ayasha, my producer, has worked tirelessly on publicity, Josh, the musical director, has been wonderful, and finally my set team have dedicated so much of their time trying to put all of my chaotic ideas onto the stage. The cast have been superb and every single one of them are such talented individuals. I am so proud of everything they have achieved and how far they have come since learning ‘we dance’ in our first rehearsal. 

I have learned so much from doing this musical and it’s an experience I will cherish fondly. This show has been such a journey and I am so excited for you all to see my vision come to life. I hope you love this show as much as I have loved directing it, it truly has been incredible.

Natalie Ho 

Firstly, I would like to say how thankful I am for this opportunity; I never thought I would be given the honor of directing such an amazing production. To be one of the directors for Durham’s first all POC production has been a phenomenal honor. As a West-Indian woman doing a West Indian production, it has come with so much joy, excitement, pressure, and tears (all good, I promise). As I sit in the theater while this immensely talented cast is practicing, I am reminded of all the work and the people who have tirelessly dedicated so much time and energy behind the scenes to make this happen. Thank you to the Sightline Exec for entrusting me with this production. You have no idea how grateful I have been for this. To my Production and Creative team, who have helped me and guided me throughout this entire experience, this show wouldn’t have happened without you. Natalie, my co-director, has been a phenomenal partner throughout this process as well as Ayasha, our producer, and Josh, our excellent MD. To my cast, thank you for allowing me to guide you all; you have shown me a new love for theater that I did not know was possible. I mean this with all my heart; you have taught me so much in so little time. I will cherish this experience forever. This production should be a catalyst for change; in the year 2023, we should not still be having ‘first’ however, I hope seeing the equally charming and exquisite faces, as well as voices of the entire cast, shows the entirety of DST that we can make a positive change. To all of the POC student talent that has not yet been showcased, understand how much you and your story matters; your passion and hope fuel you and me. I am blessed to have created something that showcases us in such a beautiful light. There is so much change to be made, and I feel blessed to have a part in such change.

Thank you, I hope you enjoy the show as much as I enjoyed every single part of it. 

My love this is just the beginning,

Brianna-Samantha Baptiste

Once on This Island is performing in the Assembly Rooms theatre until the 11th March

Photo Credits: Sightline Productions