Sunday, 11 November 2012

PAUL BEALE: The veteran playwright-screenwriter riffs on Joint Tenants, his early years, and Obama’s leadership style

DIRECTOR'S CUT: "He's a good leader with great attributes," says Beale of Obama.

From stage plays to television series to film scripts, Paul Beale has always been interested in telling stories that not only capture the amusing, relatable idiosyncrasies of Jamaicans at home but hold up a mirror to the societal dynamics that have come to define us as a people – while leaving his audiences entertained and satisfied. (By many standards, Granny Rule remains an unmistakable classic). This month sees the arrival of the second season of Beale’s hilarious CVM comedy series Joint Tenants, which follows a lively bunch of characters of varying ages trying to make life while navigating complicated circumstances. 

TALLAWAH: Your widely watched TV comedy series, Joint Tenants is now in its sophomore season. What are those colourful characters up to this go-round? 
Beale: Well, last season the tenants were chased out of the residence, and they have had to find somewhere else. But now that Ras-I-Man-I is taking an interest in Rebecca, the landlord Mr. Paper (who is played by Clive Duncan) is determined to rescind the agreement. So there is a whole lot of conflict on the show this season. As for Melcita (Trudy Bell), she would have been on a sojourn from last season, so she should be coming back and moving to Kingston. 

What’s the biggest challenge you find in writing for television as opposed to penning scripts for the stage? 
The challenge in writing for television is that you have to write based on the budget, so you cannot employ a big cast or select many locations for filming. So you don’t always get the kind of location you’d like. You have to get really creative. 

Your next theatre production is the dramedy The Student. What were you like as a high-schooler? 
(Laughs) I was a communist because by that time I had read Karl Marx’s Das Kapital and I was a huge fan of Michael Manley. I didn’t attend high school, per se, I went to Pratville Secondary in South Manchester, and I was totally absent for Grades 7 and 8. So when I came back to Grade 9, I can remember eagerly catching up on my fractions, and before long I went to the top of the class. So it’s like I didn’t miss those grades that I skipped. 

Interesting. How do you feel about Barack Obama’s re-election as US Commander-in-Chief? 
I think it is a good thing. Two of my children (between the ages of 27 and 30) voted for him. He’s given me quite a bit of inspiration. I think he’s a good leader with great attributes, but right now he needs to address that whole division of power problem. He needs to rise up like Lincoln, and in doing so you don’t want to seem like a dictator but allow the public to see what you’re about. He needs to stamp his feet and his authority now as a leader.

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