Sunday, 24 March 2013

STALWART SOUL: In Part II, Terri Salmon reflects, looks ahead, and finds a bright new perspective

TRUE COLOURS: "I am at a place where I am comfortable spiritually."

If you ask Terri Salmon to describe her life at this point, her eyes will brighten, she'll catch her breath, and she'll offer something like, "It is just such a blessing. I genuinely feel blessed. When you reach to my age, you realize that the best things in life are free: the air, the sun, sitting here with you."

Indeed, the veteran entertainer of stage and screen has enjoyed an immensely illustrious, decades-long career that has taken from Kingston all the way to the UK, where she's done some amazing work over the course of the past few years with the renowned Blue Mountain Theatre Company. "I always remain faithful and loyal to them," she says of the company, run by Sharon and Floyd Knight. "They gave me the confidence that I really needed in terms of the kinds of roles I've played over the years. They always believe I can manage those roles. So I'm really looking forward to working with them in London again sometime soon."

But until then, Salmon is remaining focussed on making a solid behind-the-scenes contribution to Jamaican theatre, which she feels is evolving wonderfully, in spite of the economic travails brought on by the latest global recession. Her new production house, Goddess Theatre, which mounted a terrific revival of the Trevor Rhone two-hander Two Can Play last December, has a whole lot in store. 

"With Goddess Theatre I just want to touch lives and produce excellent Jamaican theatre. The objective is to satisfy our audience, giving the people what they want, changing with the times," says Salmon, speaking with TALLAWAH on a golden Thursday afternoon in New Kingston, "and if possible bring something new to the stage because I have a show in mind that nothing like that's been ever been done in Jamaica. I did it in London, and the producers are giving me permission to bring it here."

As she explains, there are five particular plays she wants to produce over the course of the next few years, including another two-hander. And then, dare I repeat it, mount her retirement piece? "Yes, my retirement piece," Salmon emphasizes with a chuckle. "It is a one-woman show about my life. It's not written yet, but I know exactly what I want. I am at that age approaching 60. And mentally, you should want to leave the stage, you shouldn't let the stage want to leave you behind." 

No doubt the piece will offer an insightful first-hand account of a live lived with passion and a fierce commitment to excellence by a petite dynamo known for frequently disappearing into the most big-hearted characters. Case in point: the award-winning Concubine. "Apart from when I'm onstage, I'm basically a shy person and quiet, too," Salmon says. "I think my life has been interesting. I think I've been through everything. But one of the things I'm most proud of is raising my sons as a single mother."

And speaking of her two young men, the elder is now 33 while the younger, who turned 22 in January, currently plays competitive tennis on scholarship for Methodist University. "I just have to give thanks. At this stage of my life, I have two boys who have come out to do me and their father proud. And I can humbly say they are just as humble as I am," she says. "And that's the beauty of giving your sons an education. And when I was going through my divorce, I said to myself, I must be there for my sons. And I'm glad I stayed true to that objective."

It is precisely this kind of perspective and family-oriented mindset that Salmon is allowing to lead her into her next great chapter. "I am at a place where I am comfortable mentally, spiritually," she admits. "I am very much in tune with God. I am free." 

>> Read Part One of the Terri Salmon interview

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