ONE OF OUR OWN: Lorde, who passed away on Monday after a long illness, worked on 21 national pantomimes. (Photo: NDTC)
ON any given day that you walk past the Little Theatre on Tom Redcam Avenue in Kingston, you’ll notice a black flag fluttering in the breeze at half-mast atop the landmark theatre house. It’s to mark the passing of Michael Lorde, the estimable architect and veteran set designer who died at hospital on Monday after being ill for some time. Lorde was in his 50s.
The Little Theatre was like a second home for the master builder, who’d been working with the LTM National Pantomime for over two decades, primarily in the capacity of chief set designer. And as members of the wider theatre fraternity will attest, his reputation preceded him. Over the years, he collaborated with a veritable who’s who of Jamaican theatre practitioners (from Basil Dawkins to the School of Drama faculty), winning a number of Actor Boy Awards along the way for outstanding set design.
Even so, his name was synonymous with the pantomime company’s core technical team. “I hurt deeply because he was someone who did his work so well. For the last pantomime, we asked him to build a helicopter and he spent long hours working on it,” remembers producer and script writer Barbara Gloudon, who brought Lorde on board at the dawn of the ’90s. “Sometimes the rest of us would lose our temper but never him. He worked very hard in theatre, and all of us will miss him greatly. But what’s most important is what he has left behind.”
Lorde, who worked on some 21 LTM pantomimes, was the dependable sort, costume mistress Anya Gloudon is quick to point out. “He was always there. We could rely on him. Sometimes he’ll be here working till late so the show could be ready on time. We are certainly very shaken by [the news of his passing],” she said. “The cast members, past and present, had a nice rapport with him. He always had his camera, so we could always go to him if we needed pictures for anything.”
Lorde also served on the LTM’s management board as treasurer. As for his other professional roles, he lectured in Architecture at the University of Technology and was affiliated with the Jamaica Institute of Architects. Fellow architect (and lighting maestro) Robin Baston sings his praises. “What Michael brought to theatre was detail. He was a very detailed person. He had a certain level of skill and commitment that’s going to be missed within the theatre community,” said Baston. “Not everybody in theatre is willing to take the time to get the thing right, but that was his thing.”
Lorde is survived by a number of relatives, including his father, his mother and a brother, who will be making the funeral arrangements.