Thursday, 27 January 2011

RAYON McLEAN: Is this young man the next big thing in Jamaican theatre?

ARTIST APPEAL: McLean gets warm congrats from culture minister Olivia Grange, PM Bruce Golding and Senator Warren Newby at Sunday's PM Youth Awards at Jamaica House.

Depending on who you ask, Rayon McLean is destined for great things. The unwavering signs have been obvious from his days at Clarendon’s prestigious Glenmuir High School, where he excelled in academics, youth leadership and as a key member of the school’s multi-award-winning festival choirs and speech ensembles, taking home several medals and trophies in the JCDC Festival of the Arts.

Now enrolled at the Mona campus, the university’s artistic circle has benefited remarkably from his talents. Just this past November, he wowed theatre lovers as director and lead of the fascinatingly clever experimental presentation Apostrophe in the popular tertiary drama competition, Tallawah, picking up top prizes for Best Production and Best Director. And to further add to his credits, he has worn the director hat with the Jamaica Youth Theatre as helmer of the bold and thought-provoking production Graffiti, which impressed critics here and as far as Europe, and has been named one of 2010’s top ten Jamaican stage works.

And as his star continues to rise, the accolades keep rolling in. Last Sunday, McLean was presented with the Prime Minister’s Youth Award for outstanding achievement in the arts. Since, I have found myself imagining that for someone barely brushing the early 20s, McLean has attained much and seems poised to further surprise the local theatre scene, granted that he maintains – and expands in due course – his grasp in the theatrical arts. His acting has the potential to astound (For Black Boys comes readily to mind) and for a young director he displays considerable ability to engage his viewers as he gets his fellow young performers to do just that – perform. There is evidence in his work that he thinks deeply about what he’s doing or attempting to pull off, and that’s a crucial trait for any serious artist.

We can never have enough shining talents willing and able to deliver for the benefit of the ever-struggling arts. So as he prepares to make a real foray into premiere-league theatre, it remains to be seen whether McLean, definitely one to watch, also possesses the requisite endurance to ultimately deliver what so many of us have realized he is capable of.