Four decades’ ref lec­tion un­der full moon

Jamaica Gleaner - - BEST BETS - Michael Reck­ord Gleaner Writer

AF­TER DECADES of work at the Edna Man­ley Col­lege of the Visual and Per­form­ing Arts (EMCVPA), the mul­ti­tal­ented Calvin Mitchell has re­tired. Ap­pro­pri­ately, con­sid­er­ing Mitchell’s work in the­atri­cal light­ing, last Thurs­day’s sen­ti­men­tal send-off took place un­der a bril­liant full moon in the col­lege’s am­phithe­atre, 1 Arthur Wint Drive, St An­drew.

Mitchell, a Bronze Mus­grave Medal win­ner for drum­ming and also an ac­tor, elec­tri­cian, light­ing op­er­a­tor, light­ing and set de­signer, and car­pen­ter, went to the col­lege in 1976 to study act­ing. Em­ployed in var­i­ous ca­pac­i­ties, he sub­se­quently ended up in the post of tech­ni­cal as­sis­tant for pro­duc­tions across the cam­pus.

He has played na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally for sev­eral dance and mu­sic pro­duc­tions, and with nu­mer­ous Ja­maican bands, in­clud­ing the renowned Sonny Brad­shaw Big Band and Cedric Brooks and United Africa.

School of Drama head, Pierre Le­maire, stressed that the send-off was not an “of­fi­cial” func­tion, but an ex­pres­sion of thanks by friends for their re­la­tion­ship with Mitchell and for his con­tri­bu­tion to the col­lege. He called Mitchell “a master drum­mer” and “a man of the theatre” who “be­longed es­pe­cially to the School of Drama”.


“He paints sets, he builds sets, he lights and de­signs sets. He does what­ever is nec­es­sary for the show to go on,” said Le­maire. As Le­maire spoke, var­i­ous im­ages of Mitchell, from his youth­ful days to the present, were pro­jected on to a screen be­hind the high chair on which Mitchell sat for most of the pro­ceed­ings.

The col­lege’s prin­ci­pal, Ni­c­holeen DeGrasseJohn­son, re­called that when she first at­tended the col­lege as a dance stu­dent, Mitchell, one of the drum­mers in the dance classes, would give her and other new stu­dents use­ful point­ers on the mu­sic. He be­came a friend and con­tin­ued giv­ing her sup­port when she be­came prin­ci­pal. She ex­pressed con­fi­dence that even af­ter re­tire­ment, Mitchell would re­main at the col­lege both phys­i­cally and spir­i­tu­ally.

“We’re here be­cause of peo­ple like you. Thank you, sir,” she con­cluded. Other staff mem­bers praised Mitchell’s char­ac­ter and work. Among them were School of Dance head Kerry-Ann Henry, School of Drama lec­turer El­iz­a­beth Mon­toya Ste­mann, and theatre di­rec­tor and School of Drama lec­turer Trevor Nairne. For­mer School of Drama head Eu­gene Wil­liams, who was un­avoid­ably ab­sent and un­der whom Mitchell served the long­est, emailed his mes­sage of ap­pre­ci­a­tion.

Read by Le­maire, the mes­sage ex­pressed Wil­liams’ “ad­mi­ra­tion, love and re­spect” for Mitchell ever since they met in Septem­ber 1978.

“Calvin was the first per­son I met when I ar­rived at the Ja­maica School of Drama as a stu­dent from Guyana. He was wa­ter­ing the plants un­der the stairs in the foyer. He ap­peared to be the care­taker, the man in charge,” Wil­liams stated.

“When I be­came di­rec­tor of the Drama School, it was clear that Calvin was one of the pil­lars of the com­mu­nity,” Wil­liams con­tin­ued, adding that he rec­om­mended Calvin Mitchell plays his brand-new drum at the Edna Man­ley Col­lege of the Visual and Per­form­ing Arts dur­ing last Thurs­day’s ap­pre­ci­a­tion func­tion held in his hon­our. Fully Blessed, All White Edi­tion, is at Starap­ple Tree, Mount Friend­ship, Golden Spring, St An­drew. En­ter­tain­ment by Tre­ple X. Guest se­lec­tors San Hype, Cooly Hype, Doc­tor D, DJ Budd, DJ Gifted. Guest artistes Buss Weh, Am­non, and Kush.

John­nyb­woy, Ttuffis and Stone Jor­dan present Real Recog­nise Real at Bengue Lawn, Golden Spring. Hosted by Chi Ching Ching. Spe­cial guest artistes Gaza Slim, Ding Dong Ravas and Bryka. Mu­sic by Su­per­mix. Fea­tur­ing spe­cial guest se­lec­tors DJ Shawn, Bishop Es­co­bar and Chi­no­man.

Edna Man­ley Col­lege lauds mul­ti­tal­ented Calvin Mitchell


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