Saturday, 7 June 2014

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Actor Glen Campbell on his early years, being a role model, and life off-stage

CHARACTER WORK: Campbell, with co-star Sakina Deer, in a scene from If There's A Will.

If there’s one thing Glen ‘Titus’ Campbell enjoys most about being an actor it’s getting to use the stage as a medium to tell stories. And he’s been doing so, with splendid results, for the past 30-odd years, winning multiple awards and wooing a large loyal following, both locally and abroad, that packs the Centrestage Theatre and overseas venues to catch him in action each season. Currently headlining the crowd favourite If There’s A Will, There’s A Wife – and getting ready to transform yet again for this summer’s Brotherly Love – the iconic star, who turns 50 in August, takes a moment to check his rear-view mirror: 

TALLAWAH: Let’s reflect on your early years as a stage performer. How did you get your start in the business? 
Glen Campbell: I was always involved in the performing arts from as far back as I can remember. I was actually involved in singing and dancing before theatre. I was actually being paid as a dancer before I starred in my first commercial acting gigs. It was while at Jamaica College that I got an opportunity to sit in on an audition. At the time, it was with Louis Marriott, Frankie Campbell and Grub Cooper, up at Springvale Avenue. They were doing a musical revue. I ended up doing the audition, and they said, ‘Hey, not bad, young boy. You want to be part of the cast?’ And so I started. That was in March 1981. And it became my first production. 

TALLAWAH: Why do you act? 
G.C.: I think I have a God-given talent to be able to create characters, interesting characters, that people want to see on stage. And so that is my gift, telling stories. And we tell stories to entertain but we also inform and educate and hopefully change a mind-set. At least get people thinking, giving them food for thought in addition to the entertainment. 

TALLAWAH: As a lifelong artist, do you find it limiting to work with the same cast and crew season after season, year after year? 
G.C.: It has its advantages. Some people might say it’s limiting but [at Jambiz] you have a core group of people that you have helped to hone their craft. You have watched them develop. It’s like an academy; you train people and watch them grow. So it’s like you have a team that is well-oiled and gets better as time goes by. 

TALLAWAH: Your next show is this summer’s Brotherly Love. What can you reveal about the production at this time? 
G.C.: Once again Patrick Brown has cleverly intertwined social commentary with the comedy because you have to face facts: Jamaicans love to laugh. So you have to give them something to make it go down a little smoother. It’s a beautiful story; it’s a love story actually, told in a way that only Patrick Brown can deliver. 

TALLAWAH: Who is the character you’re set to play? 
G.C.: I don’t want to give out too much, but let’s just say I’m a loving husband (Laughs). A caring and loving husband. And it will be another character that people don’t usually see Glen play. So, as usual, I’ll be giving my audiences something new. 

TALLAWAH: Your drive and obvious commitment to excellence are regularly mentioned when admirers talk about your work. 
G.C.: My drive is based on my audience. People ask me how I do it, going for 100, 200 performances, doing the same thing every night. But each night it’s a different audience, and it’s my commitment to my audiences that make me have to deliver, whatever the situation I’m facing in my life at the time. They pay their hard-earned money to come and be entertained. And for the past 32 years that’s what I’ve been doing and will continue to do as long as I can move and still remember the lines. 

TALLAWAH: Tell us something that people would be surprised to learn about the other side of Glen Campbell. 
G.C.: When I’m not on stage I like to collect and play retro music. So I have a whole heap of equipment at home, stacked high. It’s a mixture; I like to listen to anything: country and western, jazz, R&B, hip-hop, mento. I’m just a lover of music. And I think some of the best music came out in the 70s, 80s and 90s, so that’s the period I like especially. That is how I relax. 

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