Wednesday, 14 August 2013

TAKING FLIGHT: Theatre makes room for Rayon McLean's outsize talents and edgy vision

WATCH ME NOW: The rising director, photographed for TALLAWAH at the Pantry Playhouse.

He's a fresh face in theatre's big leagues, but you shouldn't refer to Rayon McLean as a rookie. In his creative work as a director, the 24-year-old has revealed the maturity of a veteran auteur, gliding seamlessly from the riveting contours of 73, 2011's award-winning mini drama from the Quilt Performing Arts Company (of which he's the artistic director) to single-handedly spearheading a fun new summer camp for kids in his native Clarendon. 

This month, McLean steps up to helm Internet Affair, a sly new romantic comedy about cyberspace romance by Aston Cooke. "Personally, I'm humbled by it," he says of the new gig. "I can't say I never dreamt it, but to be directing like an Aston Cooke production for my first work feels great. And as I do with everything, I plan to stamp my own style, which is an edgy, post-modern approach." 

Among the factors seemingly working in McLean's favour is the mix drive and palpable passion for creative expression coupled with an understanding of the industry he's now made his home. 'I'm happy to be part of it," the UWI grad says of the new wave of Jamaican theatre practitioners. "We've been given a legacy not to play with but to continue." 

For his part, Cooke, who take a chance in hiring the Jamaica Youth Theatre alum to direct the show has no doubt McLean will deliver a fine product. "Rayon brings to the process a youthfulness that you don't regularly find in local theatre," insists Cooke, who also sees appeal in McLean's artistic style. "It's a solid mix of edginess and my traditional style of writing. It's a great balance, and it's working." 

If McLean, who holds a Spanish and International Relations degree, has his way, he'll be taking the summer kids camp to Montego Bay next year. Looking even further ahead, the sky's the limit. "I want to have a total production house, a creative space where I can do outreach using theatre," he reveals. "In Jamaica, I think we're yet to see the full potential of our creative human resource."

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