Wednesday, 21 March 2018

ON THE RECORD: School of Drama’s Dorraine Reid talks inspiration, women and power, and her directorial debut

CLASS ACT: "I am yet to write my first full-length play," Reid confides.

For the third time in her professional life, Dorraine Reid is working as lighting designer on a Basil Dawkins’ production – Pressure Drop, now playing at the Little Little Theatre in Kingston. But that’s just a fraction of what she’s accomplishing this season. In addition to continuing her work as Head of the Drama in Education department at the Edna Manley College, this poised and passionate achiever (a Clarendon College and Western Carolina University grad, now in her 30s) just wrapped her first stint as director of a major theatrical production, helming a solid take on the provocative play Belly Woman at the Dennis Scott Theatre. She spoke with TALLAWAH. 

TALLAWAH: Congrats on making a successful directorial debut. What drew you to Belly Woman
Dorraine Reid: How the play was written. I was very impressed that it was written with rhyming couplets and that almost all the characters had jonkunnu names. I was very impressed by those things. 

TALLAWAH: What did you want audiences to take away from the experience of seeing it? 
Dorraine Reid: Truthfully, I hoped that they would walk away with a greater appreciation for who we are as a people – our African identity, the people who fought for us to be able to have what we have today. And just appreciation for our cultural practices, which the play explores. 

TALLAWAH: We were first introduced to you and your work via the Independent Actors’ Movement, but we haven’t heard from the IAM in a while. What’s the latest on the troupe? 
Dorraine Reid: The group is still very much active, but we have individual projects working on at the moment. There is a project in the works, but the group will decide when is the best time to bring that to the forefront. 

TALLAWAH: Are you pleased with what you see happening in local theatre? 
Dorraine Reid: Jamaican theatre is active. We see a lot of new talents coming out and saturating the landscape. So we have a good mix of those who have been there and those who are new to the industry. But, for me, theatre space and funding are two of the biggest challenges that practitioners in theatre are faced with. 

TALLAWAH: You’re a lecturer, lighting designer, actress, director and the list goes on. What’s left for you to accomplish? 
Dorraine Reid: I am yet to write my first full-length paly. But I won’t venture down that road without the right inspiration. So once the inspiration for the work comes that will direct my next course of action. 

TALLAWAH: The #MeToo campaign took over Hollywood last year and recently Rev. Karen Kirlew became the first female president of the nearly 170-year-old Jamaica Baptist Union. What are your thoughts on the strides women have been making globally in recent times? 
Dorraine Reid: It’s a good look, and I think it speaks to the evolution of women and the evolution of society, given where we are coming from. Because women were once relegated to domestic roles in a man’s world. So what is happening speaks to the liberation of women. And men have had to acknowledge that. And it’s good inspiration for young people, especially girls. It gives them something to aspire to. 

TALLAWAH: What was the last good book you read? 
Dorraine Reid: It’s a book I read constantly: The Alchemist. It’s a good book for persons in the pursuit of their dreams, who may feel daunted and are facing obstacles. It tells you that your journey is never as you planned it. It’s about understanding the inner you – even the things that are negative about you. Each time I read it, I feel motivated. I also recommend it to my students because it’s really for anyone pursuing their dreams. 

> REVIEW: Powerful ‘Belly Woman’ fuses tragedy and history

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