School of drama hon­ours stal­warts gallery with

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT - Mar­cia Rowe Gleaner Writer

TWENTY CARIBBEAN thes­pi­ans who have made sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to the­atre in the re­gion will have their faces etched in the hearts of all who pass through the foyer of the Ja­maica School of Drama (JSD).

Over the week­end, spe­cially in­vited guests from the the­atre fra­ter­nity and fam­ily mem­bers of the hon­orees turned out to wit­ness the un­veil­ing of a plaque and the hang­ing of pic­tures of the hon­orees. It was a joy­ous mo­ment for all.

The 20 hon­orees, all de­ceased and span­ning dif­fer­ent eras and ar­eas in the the­atre in­dus­try, are: Ge­orge Carter, Louie Mar­riott, Caroll Dawes, Nor­man Rae, Earl Warner, Henry and Greta Fowler, Harry Mil­ner, Archibald Lindo, Er­rol Hill, Wy­cliffe Bennett, Noel Vaz, Reg­gie Carter, Robert ‘Bobby’ Ghisays, Louise Bennett-Cover­ley, Ran­dolph Wil­liams, Lloyd Reckord, Trevor Rhone, Den­nis Scott, and Charles Hy­att.

They were cho­sen by an ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee con­sist­ing of pro­fes­sional the­atre prac­ti­tion­ers, past and present, and cur­rent fac­ulty mem­bers of the JSD, who also as­sisted in con­cep­tu­al­is­ing the gallery.

The in­au­gu­ral af­fair be­gan with guests view­ing cre­atively pro­duced and strate­gi­cally placed posters that trans­formed the JSD foyer into a gallery set­ting. Later, the fo­cus shifted to the mid­dle land­ing of the stair­case lead­ing to the sec­ond floor of the JSD main build­ing.


Di­rec­tor of the JSD, Pierre Le­maire, was the mas­ter of Cer­e­monies for the launch and of­fi­cial open­ing of the Ja­maica School of Drama’s The­atre Gallery of Hon­orees. In wel­com­ing the guests, he in­formed them that the idea for the gallery was the brain­child of the im­me­di­ate past di­rec­tor of the JSD, Eu­gene Wil­liams.

Wil­liams told the gath­er­ing that his many years of learn­ing and teach­ing helped to in­form his idea.

“I came to re­alise that mem­ory is not just a neu­ro­log­i­cal thing. It is also a col­lec­tive cul­tural ne­ces­sity ... . Cul­tural mem­ory is a dy­namic con­tin­uum of shared knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence that can serve not as non­pro­duc­tive nos­tal­gia, but as

I came to re­alise that mem­ory is not just a neu­ro­log­i­cal thing, it is also a col­lec­tive cul­tural ne­ces­sity – Wil­liams

crit­i­cal authen­ti­ca­tion of past il­lu­mi­na­tion of the op­tions in the present binoc­u­lars for the future.”

He con­tin­ued, “It can pro­vide se­cu­rity, clar­ity and aware­ness that they (suc­ceed­ing gen­er­a­tions) don’t have to rein­vent the wheel, but build their dreams, as­sert and per­form their evolv­ing iden­tity upon a for­ti­fied or al­ready fer­tilised tra­di­tion.”

He hopes, too, that the gallery will be the stim­u­lant for con­ver­sa­tions that will ad­dress “grow­ing alien­ation from self, com­mu­nity and hu­man­is­tic de­vel­op­ment as a na­tion”.

Key­note speaker, Poet Lau­re­ate Pro­fes­sor Mervyn Mor­ris cat­e­gorised and pro­vided some back­ground in­for­ma­tion on the hon­orees.

“The hon­orees, as you know, in­clude play­wrights, di­rec­tors, ac­tors, the­atre tech­ni­cians, producers, the­atre ad­min­is­tra­tors, the­atre his­to­ri­ans and re­view­ers. And many would be­long to more than one di­vi­sion. Take Er­rol Hill, for ex­am­ple: ac­tor, play­wright, di­rec­tor, the­atre his­to­rian. As a drama tu­tor at the UWI, he helped to get lo­cal ma­te­rial pub­lished and to im­prove the qual­ity of pro­duc­tion in the Caribbean. He was one of the ear­li­est to ex­plore the Caribbean cul­ture. His 1972 book in­flu­enced many de­vel­op­ments and later, re­search on the­atre prac­tices.”

He fol­lowed up with in­for­ma­tion on all the other 19 hon­orees. He de­scribed Henry and Greta Fowler as in­sti­tu­tion builders and shared a per­sonal anec­dote about Charles Hy­att and said that the de­vel­op­ment of the JSD was owed to Den­nis Scott and Caroll Dawes.

Dr Ni­c­holeen DeGrasseJohn­son,

prin­ci­pal of the Edna Man­ley Col­lege, of which the JSD is one of the five schools, also ad­dressed the au­di­ence. The cul­mi­nat­ing ac­tiv­ity was per­formed by vet­eran Leonie Forbes and Le­maire. Both un­veiled a plaque boast­ing the names of the hon­orees, fol­lowed by stu­dents of the JSD hang­ing the in­di­vid­ual pho­tos and ul­ti­mately es­tab­lish­ing the gallery.


Pho­tos of a few hon­orees on dis­play in the gallery.

Prin­ci­pal of Edna Mam­ley Col­lege, Dr Ni­c­holeen DeGrasse-Johnson.

Eu­gene Wil­liams

Di­rec­tor, School of Drama, Pierre Le­maire.

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