Saturday, 6 July 2013

ARTS BEAT: August promises the arrival of an Aston Cooke/Rayon McLean collabo + the 2013 renewal of the Gungo Walk Festival

PLAY ON: Few theatre-based storytellers capture the spirit of the age and what it truly means to be a Jamaican at home with as much fervour and authenticity as Aston Cooke (Fifty 2 Rahtid, Concubine, Single Entry). It's no surprise then that a new work by the veteran playwright is usually cause for (some) celebration. Up next in the canon is Internet Affair, a sexy-steamy romantic comedy, set to debut on the Kingston stage in mid-August. Fast-rising star Rayon McLean, above, (Artistic Director of the award-winning Quilt ensemble) is calling the shots, marking his commercial theatre debut as a stage director. Cooke, meantime, suggests that the five-member cast could predominantly feature fresh faces. "Don't be surprised if you don't recognize a single person on the stage," he says, laughing. "But there might be one or two familiar talents. We're just about to do the casting, so we'll see how it turns out." 

BACK TO NATURE: And speaking of cultural attractions for next month, the Gungo Walk World Alternative Music & Arts Festival, which enjoyed a solid debut last summer, is set to return to the grounds of the Edna Manley College on August 24, with a similar mix of live music on three stages (acts will include Stephanie, SkyGrass, et al), art and poetry, film, food, a healing village, a kiddies village, and dozens of booths. The day-long festival's key event, Armchair Rebelution, will feature performances by singer Michael Sean Harris and other acts to be announced in due course. The similarities to last year's staging notwithstanding, the production team is aiming to present a bigger, better experience this time around for patrons of all stripes. "Gungo Walk embraces the young, the not-so-young, the different, the alternative, the indigenous, the creative and the expressive," Harris says. "This year's festival builds on that foundation of inclusion and expression."

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