Friday, 11 November 2016

CRITIC’S NOTEBOOK: Actor Boy’s new day + Introducing JamStage Productions + Theatre goes to the ‘dogs’

TAKING CHARGE: The Actor Boy Awards are under new management! Maurice Bryan and Mike Daley, the long-time producers of the show (which annually honours excellence in Jamaica theatre as our version of the Oscars), have relinquished the reins. Enter Aston Cooke, Weston Haughton and David Tulloch – the dream team that’s been assembled to carry on the tradition and breathe new life into the 20-plus year-old brand. Tulloch and his colleagues have hit the ground running, setting aside World Theatre Day (March 27) as the tentative date for the 2017 awards show. Nominations are due out in February.

GAME CHANGERS: When Bad Breed opens at the Phoenix Theatre on December 16, it will mark the maiden production for JamStage Productions, the latest theatre-based company to enter the ubercompetitive market, setting its sights on bringing to Jamaican audiences plays that will make you laugh, think, cry, fume and everything else in between. It’s a collaborative enterprise between playwrighting/producing whiz David Tulloch and relative newcomer Orlando Sinclair, who both exited the RBT Productions camp a few months ago and have decided to go into business together. Speaking with TALLAWAH recently, they promised to bring something fresh and exciting to traditional Jamaican theatre. “It’s a breath of fresh air,” Sinclair quips. “Tulloch, directorial-wise, is a genius, so my job is to get the regular Jamaican to feel welcome to come out to the theatre, whether on a date or just to come watch a show.” A week after the opening of Bad Breed, Tulloch’s Across the Bridge (dedicated to his bother) will have its world premiere. “This Christmas will probably be the busiest I’ll ever be,” he predicts. Looking ahead, the JamStage brothers are eager to see their venture evolve into something with significant impact. “We’ve set a plan to make sure there’s growth,” Sinclair says. “We also want to own a space where we can develop talents and provide them with opportunities to build their careers.”

ANIMAL KINGDOM: As a veteran stage director, Trevor Nairne has developed a knack for taking on classic Caribbean works and transforming them into something intriguingly relevant and crowd-pleasing. Last year, he made an amphitheatre gem out of Derek Walcott’s Dream on Monkey Mountain (with Chris McFarlane and Alicia Taylor, who both scored Thespy nominations). This season, though on a much smaller scale, he tackles the late Jamaican playwright Dennis Scott’s Dog, a meditation on ruthless ambition, loyalty and forgiveness. (It recently played to packed houses for a limited run at the Edna Manley College’s School of Drama). Working with a cast of committed, competent student actors, Nairne mines the dramatic and comedic depths of Scott’s vision with an experimental slant that yields sturdy results. In spite of occasional lighting and sound glitches, what we get is a gross, metaphorical depiction of how the urban landscape has gone to the ‘dawgs’ and the hellish nightmares that now abide in this poverty-stricken realm. With a brutal, unflinching realism that connects deeply with the current status quo, Dog’s bark is as ferocious as its bite.

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