Friday, 13 November 2015

CRITIC’S NOTEBOOK: Pierre LeMaire takes over as Director of Edna Manley College’s School of Drama

A NEW CHAPTER: For Pierre LeMaire, the best thing about being appointed Director of the Edna Manley College’s School of Drama is having a front-row seat as the venerable institution navigates a period of extraordinary transition. “It’s a challenging and interesting time, but the college is now looking to the future and preserving the heritage,” LeMaire tells TALLAWAH, appearing very at ease behind his sprawling work desk in the cozy upstairs office formerly occupied by his predecessor Eugene Williams. Williams, LeMaire’s esteemed colleague and close pal, in on early retirement, having served the institution with distinction for several decades. “He’s doing some research now, but hopefully we can get him to come back to work on a part-time basis because he still has a lot to contribute to the school,” says the avant-garde director, who has a knack for staging inventive and delightful children’s theatre productions. LeMaire’s appointment took effect September 1, but he’s been on staff at the Edna Manley College since 1979 (part-time) before accepting a full-time post in 1982. He took a break from the classroom a few years later, returning to full-time status in 2000. As the drama school’s new director, LeMaire’s days feature way more paper work than actual interaction with students. “It’s a lot of administrative work,” the 63-year-old admits. “I miss the teaching. I still teach, but not the same amount of hours. It used to be about 15 hours of teaching, but now it’s down to about five or so hours.”

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Trevor Nairne recently directed a terrific production of Brazilian playwright Nelson Rodrigues’ seedy and darkly provocative masterpiece The Wedding Dress at the School of Drama’s Dennis Scott Theatre. It was strictly for “exam purposes” so critics (yours truly included) were instructed not to write about the show as regular review, to avoid conflict with the overseers of Mr. Rodrigues’ estate, et al. All in all, we enjoyed the show immensely, but especially the writer’s tragicomic spin on universal themes ranging from romance and regret to marriage and mortality to pride and prejudice. While all the young players turned in commendable acting performances for the most part, I was particularly impressed by talented scene-stealer Cadene Solomon (in the role of Madame Clessi, a woman of scandalous ‘appetites’), who brought excellent timing and remarkable conviction to the portrayal. A job very well done. If Cadene’s outstanding work here is any reliable indication of what’s to come, she has a bright career in the dramatic arts awaiting her.

ON THE HOUSE: Have we seen the latest of New Kingston’s Theatre Place? Sources say the Haining Road-based theatre house could be closed to the public for good, as the operators have been at loggerheads with the property owners over maintenance issues for months now. Our grief over the closure of the Pantry Playhouse (and the legendary Barn Theatre, for that matter) is still fresh, so we’re praying that things turn out for the best.

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