IN THE ZONE: Watson (right) and colleague Pierre LeMaire at the LTM.
IN a 2012 exclusive with Vogue, Tina Brown compared her post-New Yorker hiatus from the news stream/journalism world to having an amputated leg. Flash forward to 2020, and technical-theatre pro Larry Watson is telling TALLAWAH that many of Jamaica’s creative artistes du jour feel the same way, owing, of course, to the debilitating onslaught of the COVID-19 virus.
“A lot of persons in the creative industries feel weakened. Their creative juices aren’t flowing, they’re not getting to express themselves as they are accustomed to. Their lives are on pause,” he argues. “They feel retired.”
Livelihoods are threatened; pockets have been hard hit, he goes on to point out. “Obviously, financially, people are finding it very hard to live their lives as they normally do, and have to be coming up with alternative means of survival,” he notes. “In the schools, CXC teachers have it a bit easier than some because they are using Zoom to conduct their classes online and still get paid. But those who were employed to prepare students for things like JCDC Festival, they have basically been laid-off.”
He feels their pain. Personally, Watson is putting up a courageous fight. “I’ve been retired for almost two years, so basically I’m living off my savings for the most part,” he says. “I find myself sitting at home watching TV a lot more now, and honestly I am bored.”
And he knows he’s not alone. “A great way for persons who work in the arts to stay creative is to keep practicing on their own. They can spend time designing technical plots, make up storylines and try to fuse that with some other kind of reporting,” the LTM pantomime veteran shares. “Go online and upgrade your skills and your knowledge base. In Jamaica, we say ‘tun yuh han’ mek fashion’ when resources are scarce. My advice for creative artists in the meantime is to find ways of using whatever little resources you have to plot new directions.”