Monday, 16 September 2019

CRITIC’S NOTEBOOK: Jean-Paul Menou gears up for his School of Drama directing debut

I HAVE A ‘DREAM’: As a speech and drama lecturer at the Edna Manley College, Jean-Paul Menou is always looking for fresh opportunities to engage his students. This semester he’s getting to challenge them (and himself) in a creative and exciting way: by mounting a production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, his directorial debut for the School of Drama. “I’m excited about it because I’m getting to expose my students, particularly my first years, to Shakespeare. It’s one of his best plays in my opinion. And it’s not a tragedy, so it’s not heavy,” he tells TALLAWAH, seated in his upstairs office on campus. Menou, who has earned renown as quizmaster on Schools’ Challenge Quiz, is not one to take creative liberties with the Bard’s work but, as an enterprising director, he is thrilled about trying a thing or two with the classic text. “Over the summer, while I was working on the script, I was thinking of translating it from old English to modern-day English to make it easier for my students,” says Menou, who just started auditions for casting, “but I was worried about losing the essence of the work. So what I decided to do instead is put together a glossary with the script.” Ah, the lengths some teachers will go for their students. The production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream opens at the Dennis Scott Studio Theatre in mid-October.

ON WITH THE SHOW: Celebrating another milestone year, Father HoLung & Friends (the beloved ghetto priest is turning 80) are bringing back Isaiah this season. The mega-musical, which revisits the Biblical narrative, plays at the National Arena (including school shows) September 25-29 and October 2-4. Once again, the prolific Greg Thames is bringing his directorial brio to the table, transforming Father HoLung’s vision into a theatrical spectacle. Wynton Williams (Musical Director), Paula Shaw (choreography), among other, are expected to reprise their roles in the crew. As for the actors involved, Stephen-Rhae Johnson, L’Andre Saddler and Jodi Palmer are set to lead a massive cast.

LET THE COUNTDOWN BEGIN: It’s that time of year again when we turn our attention to the performers and productions generating awards season (Thespy, Actor Boy) buzz. And I’m happy to report that, from my vantage point, the categories are shaping up nicely. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be doing the usual breakdown (Best Shots, Possibles, Long Shots) as we work our way up to the big announcements in January. Stay tuned. Exciting times are ahead…

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