HIGH PROFILE: A juggernaut of Jamaican culture remembered.
On the occasion of the 101st anniversary of his birth, Ranny Williams' inspiring legacy of acclaimed performances and storytelling prowess was in the spotlight on Saturday as the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission put on a day-long retrospective (exhibition, panel discussion and tribute concert), equal parts informative and entertaining, dubbed "The Man. His Life. His Legacy," featuring contributions from Alma Mock-Yen, Dr. Brian Heap, Festival Queen Krystal Tomlinson and a host of talented young performers, including Ardenne High's drama club, the Lannaman's Prep Dance Troupe and the EXED School of the Performing Arts. Below, some choice quotables in tribute to the late great Mas Ran:
Dr. Brian Heap, theatre director:
"I am happy that we are celebrating the life and work of a remarkable man. But one of the questions we have to ask ourselves is Why do we know more about Miss Lou than we do about Mas Ran? Yet we talk about them in the same breath. Miss Lou wrote things down: stories, poetry anthologies. Mas Ran also wrote things down; he was a journalist, but you have to go deep into the archives to find them. One of the great things about Mas Ran is that he celebrated his cultural heritage with storytelling, and today those stories are still in the heads of older people."
Dr. Barbara Gloudon, playwright and broadcaster:
"People were drawn to his personality, especially when you saw him in action. Those who are studying theatre need to study Ranny Williams' style. On stage he knew exactly when to move, when to go for it. He never stopped studying. And one of the things we are not teaching the youth is that theatre, the arts is hard work."
Alma Mock-Yen, educator and living legend:
"Ranny Williams was a bright, creative and hardworking Jamaican man. He belonged to a tradition of service that we seem to be losing. When I remember him, I recall the words of the Scottish poet Robert Burns: "If there be another world, he lives there in bliss. If there be no other, he made the most of this."
>> Naturally, the event took place at Hope Road's Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre and the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre.