Sunday, 20 March 2011

GETTING TO GREAT: Sharp focus, experimentation continue to pay off for theatre’s golden boy David Tulloch

ESCAPE ARTIST: "I am actually pleased with my achievements, but there is still a lot to be done," says Tulloch.

Don’t be fooled by David Tulloch’s unassuming demeanour and soft-spoken approach; he is a fiercely gifted artist with an incredibly curious mind and a ferocious appetite for creatively pushing the boundaries with his pen (as a playwright), musical instruments (as a composer) and a frequently steady hand (as a director). True to form, the multi-award winner is getting set to debut his latest work, Confessions, a timely comedy-drama that challenges the standard man-woman relationship, even as he reflects on his successful career and keeps his eyes on the prize.

As an actor, director and composer, you are one of the most dedicated and multi-faceted thespians working in Jamaican theatre. From what sources do you draw motivation?
My motivation for the most part stems from a zest for wanting more. I am motivated by a need to play my part in contributing to our enriched culture, however small my donation may be. Talent, interest, great concepts and a good cause usually are factors that get the wheel turning, and I certainly believe the Jamaican audience has an appreciation for the theatrical alternative.

Were you at all surprised by the leading 15 Actor Boy nominations for White Witch? Do you think the musical will sweep at the upcoming awards?
I wouldn’t say that I was surprised but rather grateful for the judges’ nods for what I would consider to be one of the most extravagant projects I have ever been a part of. A lot of hard work and thought went into its creation. I am really happy for the acknowledgement. Will it sweep the awards? I am not sure of that. It is a competitive crop, and I do believe that there were a lot of other good works this year. However, it should get a few.

Your new play, Confessions (opening April 1), tackles domestic strife and human relationships. What inspired your writing of this work, and why will audiences connect with it?
Confessions was an experiment when first mounted. I have written quite a bit of dramas and not much comedy. I wanted to do a comedy that was light and funny but still left food for thought. Like most of the pieces I have written, I wanted to tackle an issue not popularly explored and yet exists within our society. It is interesting that the ‘macho’ facade often displayed by men in relationships often dominates. What if it was one day torn down and the roles were reversed? What if the wife started to abuse the husband? I think the Jamaican audiences like controversy and laughter, so I believe it will connect with them, even if it’s just plain curiosity.

If you had the power, what's the first thing you would improve about the performing arts in Jamaica?
Sadly, the performing arts in Jamaica does not offer a lot of options, especially for those who are actually studying the field. So if I had the power I would try to offer and implement more opportunities in the field to actually showcase local talent outside of the teaching arena.

Glancing back and looking ahead, how do you feel about your life?
Well I am actually pleased with my achievements thus far. I am also focusing a lot on business these days. There’s Great River Adventure, where I am now managing director; I lecture and, of course, there’s my very own Probemaster Entertainment. And we just started our junior theatre, The Western Junior Theatre. I have already won three ITI Actor Boy Awards; however, there is still a lot to be done, but I’m working on it. I’ve been doing a lot of self analysis and hope to enhance and hone my skills in all my endeavours as I continue to grow.

EERIE ENCOUNTER: Tulloch (second right) with castmates in the Thespy-winning stage musical White Witch.

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