Dahlia Harris has been hailed as one of Jamaica's most diverse actresses and not just for her sterling performances on stage. The two-time Actor Boy Award winner has directed Ras Genie and has also produced two critically acclaimed comedies, Hurricane Lovers and Family Affair. No small wonder she received the Bigga High Achievers Award in April of this year for her work in theatre.
Harris continues to spread her theatrical wings this time as the writer of her latest project, Judgement. She describes the piece as a spell-binding story about two best friends who become the target of a man out for revenge. Set in New York, the play looks at how decisions based on poor judgement not only yield terrible consequences but also affect the lives of those we love. In Jamaican slang, "is one judgement!". According to Harris, the work was inspired by a number of actual experiences.
"I'm a great listener and, so often when individuals share their experiences, I realise that there are common issues that we face, yet believe that they are unique to our own lives. Exposure facilitates discussion. When audiences see themselves reflected in the piece it may offer more meaningful perspective"
Among the issues raised in Judgement is the evaluation of friendship. Janet, an overworked 40 year old registered nurse, and the fun-loving Sasha, are as close as sisters. Janet thinks she's finally found the man of her dreams -- a gorgeous Jamaican called Antonio. Unknown to her, he shares a dark past with her best friend who is struggling between exposing his lies or preserving her own existence. In the end someone must pay but who will make the ultimate sacrifice? Harris argues that while the concept seems simple, the philosophy of friendship is quite complex.
"What really defines a friendship and how we select the persons we allow closest to us? Is it the nature of friendship that one gives and the other takes? Are there different tests for varying levels of friendship and who decides if you pass or fail? I certainly don't have the answers but maybe after the debates generated by the show I will!"
At a time when most commercial productions are focusing on comedy for box office success, she has opted to promote the play as a new Jamaican drama. It's a decision she stands by.
"Soap operas, those African short films, Jamaicans like to be intrigued by a story and to be absorbed by compelling characters. Will audiences laugh during Judgement? The colourful language and often humorous displays ensure that. Will they be transfixed? That is my goal".
Scheduled to open on December 26, 2010 at The Pantry Playhouse, Judgement will feature veteran actress Deon Silvera who will share the stage with Harris and the multi- talented Andre Morris.