Thursday, 13 November 2014

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK: Tony Wilson revved up for Company's 2014 season + Chris McFarlane nabs the role of a lifetime

HEIGHT OF HIS CAREER: You know genuine artists by the drive, professionalism and chameleonic qualities they bring to their craft. Chris McFarlane, one of the finest Jamaican actors of this modern generation, is one such artist, who is constantly working and evolving, relishing opportunities that allow him to disappear into roles that, at first, might seem to be at odds with his real-life persona (read: charismatic and very down-to-earth). Flipping the script, he is currently portraying Makak, an aging Rastafarian dreamer whose sanity gets called into question, in the School of Drama's version of Derek Walcott's Dream On Monkey Mountain. Judging by his ovation-worthy performance, it's seemingly a role Chris was destined to play. But even so, for the veteran stage and screen actors (who likes to play it modest in interviews) getting to share the stage with students of his alma mater is the greatest reward. "I'm taken back to basics with the students and learning a whole lot," the fortysomething star tells TALLAWAH, moments after wrapping a performance last weekend. "And we're not doing this for money; we're doing it for [the] students' grades, and that's very important." By his own admission, McFarlane (last season's Thespy winner for Toy Boy) is ever ready to lend his time and talents whenever his busy schedule allows him. "It's an honour to be asked to come here and do this," says the actor, pictured above with director Trevor Nairne. "The privilege is all mine."

GREAT EXPECTATIONS: In Jamaica's modern-dance world it's always a joy to see master choreographers and artistic directors spreading their wings and sharing their gifts with other companies. That definitely includes Tony Wilson of Company Dance Theatre, whose "Patchwork" (a brand-new creation) added a jolt of Afrocentric sizzle to the 2014 repertoire of the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble, which just wrapped its season (their 21st) at the Little Theatre. As expected, Wilson's focus now turns to his troupe's upcoming season (set for Nov. 22 and 23 at the same venue), which promises a dazzling feast. "We've come up with three new works," Wilson tells TALLAWAH. "There's one by Renee McDonald, one by LeAnn Williams and by me, of course." Add to the mix remountings of such masterworks as "Panorama" and "Rebirth." Asked how things are shaping up, with show dates just over a week away, Wilson says. "I'm excited. I want the whole of Jamaica to see it." Agreed. 

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