Late playwright Barry Reckord's body donated to science

Thursday, December 29, 2011

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IN keeping with his request, the body of the late Jamaican playwright Barry Reckord has been donated to science.

His brother, renowned writer/director Lloyd Reckord told the Observer that the body was turned over to the University of the West Indies for medical research, as his brother had instructed his family.

Reckord also stated that a memorial service is to be held in the coming weeks — late January or early February — to coincide with the launch of the late playwright's book, FOR THE RECKORD: a Collection of Three Plays By Barry Reckord.

The Jamaica Association of Dramatic Artists (JADA) in its tribute states that the theatre community is saddened by the passing of Reckord, whom it sees as one of Jamaica's most talented playwrights whose impressive work brought much acclaim and respect internationally.

Scarlett Beharie, JADA president, said: "We are very grateful for his role in helping to shape our dramatic literary voice and for his overall contribution to the development of Jamaican theatre. Thanks to the publication of some of his work and his impact on many of our actors, producers, writers and directors, his legacy and memory is secure."

As part of the Jamaica Theatre 50 schedule of events set for next year, and in celebration of Reckord's work, JADA will be staging a dramatic reading of his first play, Della, under the working title Flesh to a Tiger.

Reckord was born in Jamaica on November 19, 1926 and went to Britain in the 1950s to study at Cambridge University as an Issa scholar. While still a student, his first play Della (1953) presented under the title Flesh to a Tiger was produced at the Royal Court in 1958. He wrote several more plays for the Royal Court in the late-1950s and early-1960s, including You In Your Small Corner (1960), Skyvers (1958, 1971) and X (1974). In 1962, Reckord adaptedYou in Your Small Corner for Independent Television's Play of The Week series. He wrote two more television dramas for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) — In The Beautiful Caribbean broadcast (1972) and Club Havana (1975).

He is the recipient of the Institute of Jamaica's Silver Musgrave medal in 1973, for his contribution to playwriting. He was made a Fellow of the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in the same year.

In 1962, the play You in Your Small Corner was also put on at the Royal Court Theatre, then transferred to the West End, to the New Arts Theatre, and after a few months it was taken up by Granada Television in the A Play for Today series.

Reckord has had 14 stage and television plays produced in Britain and Jamaica. In 2010, Yvonne Brewster edited a collection of three of his plays For the Reckord, which was published in London by Oberon Press. Just 10 days ago, his play Skyvers was produced on the BBC in a new production.

— Richard Johnson

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