Sunday, 8 April 2012

OUR LADY OF STAGE: Talking with living legend Leonie Forbes

ONE OF OUR OWN: There is no place like home for Forbes.

TALLAWAH caught up with legendary leading lady Leonie Forbes – not looking a day over 21 – at last Monday’s Actor Boy Awards in Kingston. She spoke candidly with us about being home to join in the Golden Jubilee celebrations, today’s Jamaican theatre, and her immensely important legacy.

TALLAWAH: It’s absolutely wonderful that you’re here and well for the Jamaica 50 festivities. What do you feel?
Leonie Forbes: It’s going on very well. I think it’s very good that they are trying to bring home those of us who are away, family and everybody, to come back and enjoy the best things about Jamaica. There are some things you won’t find anywhere else in the world, and even if you do find it, it is never quite as nice as when you’re home. This little rock, fabulous place. No matter where I am, I will always come back and visit. This is home. Some of the greatest moments, the most beautiful things I remember all happened right here. So no other place can ever replace here.

Speaking of moments, is there an extra-special personal career highlight that stands out in your mind?
That’s kind of hard because each moment has its own special thing. There are some moments I suppose will touch you like tonight [at the Actor Boy Awards] when Bello told the audience I was in the house, and the response. I got goose-pimples. It says yes you are alive, and yes you did your best, and yes it did work for a bit.

You’ve been away from the spotlight for a good minute. Are you making plans to return to the stage anytime soon?
I never left the stage really but when it comes to a long run, it takes a lot out of you. And I can put it in up to a certain level. I don’t think I could take on a three or four-month run now just like that. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t participate; I will. But now I get a chance to do some of the things that I enjoy like working with youngsters who want to go into theatre. I can get to do more readings in churches. That sort of thing. So you get to do things that you would normally miss out on when you have a performance. So now I can catch up on those things.

Given your vast and diverse body of work, is there a particular kind of character you are yet to portray?
The trouble is I’ve touched most of them. I believe I have touched all of those I believe I could make something of. I’ve been the madwoman, I’ve been the deaf lady, and I’ve done all kinds of accents. And I’ve played humble people, I’ve played a woman who never spoke and yet she was a vital part of a household. And those are challenges and so on. So if something comes and I can take it on I will. But I wouldn’t say that I’ve really missed out on any kind of role.

Are you proud of where Jamaican theatre has come?
Yes, I am. Jamaican theatre has come a long way. It’s our theatre now, with our writers, producers, and our performers at the top. We don’t have to import anybody. We have fabulous talent here. In every aspect of [the industry]. So I think sometimes it will hit a bad patch and things will get a little slow, but it will be up and swinging in no time flat because the desire is here, the talent is here, the need is here for it. Everybody needs a little outlet, so I think it will continue to grow.

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