Saturday, 28 March 2020

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK: School of Drama connects with Touch / Jamaican artists and COVID-19 / David Tulloch's political ambitions

Just before local schools closed recently due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Edna Manley College's School of Drama premiered its 2020 children's theatre production, Touch, playing for two weekends to much-deserved rave reviews. Conceived by Janet Muirhead-Stewart, Touch is a clever, humour-filled musical dramedy for the young and young at heart that doesn't gloss over the serious issues lodged at its core (child abuse, sexual misconduct) but explores them with a fun, light-hearted approach. Using a playground (and occasionally the domestic space as its setting), it's about how trusted authority figures abuse the trust and power they have over vulnerable and impressionable kids. Kids like Sasha, Johnny and Sonny, who are being abused by a stepfather, auntie and uncle respectively, until a no-nonsense (but comically accident-prone) female police officer intervenes and puts them behind bars. the playground serves as a powerful metaphor for life, and the play itself, boasting committed performances from talented student actors, offers a staunch reminder that what we learn from children includes things we too often overlook.

>> 'I WILL SURVIVE': J'can artists vs. COVID-19
Due to the sudden onslaught of COVID-19 that has brought about movement restrictions, artists, artisans and other creatives are feeling the economic pinch more than ever across the globe. But according to Kingston Creative's Andrea Dempster-Chung, the moment offers opportunities for practitioners to stay afloat without falling into the 'starving artist' bracket. "Start telling people how they can find you online, where they can browse your products and how they can donate to offer support, pay online for products, watch your live stream or call you for delivery," she notes. "What lessons can artists take from the global arts community as they respond to COVID-19? There are some real opportunities to rethink the way that we do business in the creative economy... This is a time of high stress, and it's precisely now that arts and culture are needed the most."

By all accounts, David Tulloch is serious about fulfilling his lifelong dream of entering politics. Representing the Dr. Peter Phillips-led People's National Party (PNP), the award-winning playwright and producer has taken up the gauntlett and wll be challenging the Jamaica Labour Party's Delroy Chuck for the St. Andrew North East seat during the next General Elections. A second-generation candidate, Tulloch is the son of another one-time parliamentarian Francis Tulloch.

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