Trinidad and Tobago: Know some facts about traditional Mas character, Dame Lorraine

Trinidad and Tobago: Know some facts about traditional Mas character, Dame Lorraine

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Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: The Carnival Institute of Trinidad and Tobago, also regarded as Carnival Institute and Regional Carnival (CIRC), has recently shared highlights from the traditional Mas character, Dame Lorraine.

As per the ‘Tuesday Topic’ of Carnival Institute of Trinidad and Tobago, in the past, this character was played primarily by cross-dressing men. The breasts and buttocks of Dame Lorraine are exaggerated with padding. She wears a hat and may carry a fan or umbrella. Usually (but not always), the face is covered with a domino mask. Once, this character formed part of an elaborate theatrical performance involving several dances and characters which parodied the stylish balls of the French planters during slavery.

It further informed that once popular in the past, this mock ball took place on the occasion of Dimanche Gras. To the sound of a violin or two, flute, guitar, or quarto, the Master of Ceremonies or “Teacher” with his long switch would ask the players to form up. Reading from a book, he would announce the names of couples who entered the stage dancing. The names of the characters were in French Creole. Names like Musier Bull, meaning “Mr Bull”, and Gros Boudin, meaning “Big Belly”. Each would answer to his name. These names were quite descriptive and pinpointed certain bodily defects.

CIRC outlined, “Later, the scene transformed into a classroom with the ‘pupils’ mocking the mannerisms of certain members of the elite to the delight of the audience. Should the pupil portray the character wrongly, they were punished with the schoolmaster’s whip and told to go to the side.”

While concluding the post, CIRC included some photos taken from Viey La Cou 2007 and the Canboulay Re-enactment of the same year, showcasing modern-day interpretations of Dame Lorraine’s Performance. For more information on Carnival History, visit the Virtual Carnival Museum at: https://tntcarnivalworld.com/.