Tuesday, 9 July 2013

STAGE NOTES: Three quick takes on the current theatre landscape

Youngblood stepping up 
In the wake of news that the Jamaica Youth Theatre recently triumphed over their international counterparts to take first place in the Global Video Youth Challenge (an initiative centred on the twin issues of HIV and youth awareness), playwright Aston Cooke has revealed that his upcoming summer production, Internet Affair, will be directed by an alum of the JYT, Rayon McLean, who's gone on to co-found the Quilt Performing Arts Company, of which he's now artistic director. Though McLean (barely in his 20s) is now poised to step into the big leagues of stage direction, helming mini-productions like 2011's 73 undoubtedly gave the Prime Minister's Youth Awardee some solid practice. Internet Affair opens in mid-August. 

All in the sisterhood 
Trend alert? Earlier this year, Thicker Than Water intrigued audiences with more than just its fast-paced, sinister plot and emotional heft; the show stood out from the pack thanks in no small part to its competent all-female cast (led by Dahlia Harris and Shawna-Kae Burns), a rarity I hadn't witnessed since Hairpeace played at the Pantry a few seasons ago. Now comes Ladies of the Night, with a couple fellows in tow, but by all appearances the show belongs to its fierce four: Camille Davis, Keisha Patterson, Sakina Deer and Sharee McDonald-Russell, who all portray the titular ladies. Looking ahead to the rest of the year, something tells me the oestrogen-fest is just getting started. 

Some like it hot 
And speaking of Ladies of the Night, which takes viewers inside the nocturnal world of "selling and buying", the Jambiz production is among a handful of current summer shows exploring such grown-folks themes as sex and adult relationships -- the others (for now) being Taboo (at UWI's Philip Sherlock Centre) and the returning erotic thriller Risqué (at Stages), the both of which are due open this weekend. This only goes to show that when it comes to summertime Jamaican theatre, our writers and production houses are not afraid to turn up the heat.




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