The launch of Mas Pieta Thursday evening in Woodbrook was a fun and vibrant affair. Peter Minshall’s return to Carnival design is something to be celebrated, and that people did, despite the message behind the mas.
Minshall 2020 Mas Pieta is the completion of the circle for the veteran mas man, one that began with Paradise Lost in 1976. Then as now, Minshall is being commissioned to design for the band, rather than author the entire production through his Callaloo Company. What began with Stephan Lee Huang, ends with Kinetic Mas.
Kinetic Mas is a new entity, but as they themselves say, “we are by no means new to Carnival nor the production of mas.”
Peter Samuel, himself a name embedded in the Mas history of Trinidad as a frequent Minshall King is chief among the familiar faces behind Kinetic Mas.
What is Mas Pieta? It is a Mas in four acts or movements. The pieta, which means ‘The Pity’ is an image of the Virgin Mary cradling the body of Christ in her lap. That image is used in the early media for Mas Pieta, a charcoal rendering of Michaelangelo’s masterpiece in marble. I asked Minshall why Mas Pieta, if he was returning to comfort our dying Carnival, and he said No. “I am doing this because it needs to be done!” he says. “Because if I didn’t do it, it would not be done.”
“But at the same time I’m terrified. I don’t know how to ask people to play a mas without a North Stand!”
The movements begin with Armageddon (Horror) and then transitions into Ashes to Ashes (Pity). But then hope arrives in the form of Love, (Over the Rainbow). The mas ends with Le Paradis Retrove, Paradise Returns.
The costumes shown as sketches are of a black blouson top, with a full skirt or pants. There is a headwrap that changes in colour depending on which movement you are in. White for Horror and Light, brown for Pity, and yellow for Love.
The variety comes in the wings for each section. The wings designed as two halves of the whole which tells the story of each movement. In one a grotesque face sticks out its tongue. In another, a figure is either rising from the earth or falling to it.
As mentioned before, there were no prototypes on display. The costumes were shown as sketches. This was much less a band launch and more of an art exhibition. Because each movement comes with an artist’s note, and the artist himself read two pieces at the launch.
The artist Jackie Hinkson was in attendance. A long-time friend of Minshall, he says he has been trying for years to get him to start back working. He was very happy with the work on display. “It reflects how strong Peter is at graphics, at proportion, his relationship of shapes, line work, juxtaposition of tones, graduations, all of that,” Hinkson says. Mas Pieta’s four acts and 20 sections will give patrons a food and drink inclusive experience on the road. But in keeping with traditions, they also promise live entertainment instead of the DJ trucks that have become the norm.