Remembering Maas Ran
THE life and work of Jamaica actor and folklorist Ranny Williams (Maas Ran) will be celebrated next week by the Little Theatre Movement (LTM), producers of the national pantomime.
The events will include an exhibition at the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Library from October 22-24, as well as a salute on October 26, which would have been Maas Ran's 100th birthday. This will be held on the grounds of the Little Theatre on Tom Redcam Avenue in St Andrew.
Researcher at the LTM, Anya Gloudon-Nelson, says in addition to saluting Maas Ran on what would have been his centenary year, the decision to pay tribute also serves to shed light some of the little-known facts about the celebrated actor.
"The LTM wanted to expose the other side of Maas Ran. For many young people their only connection is the venue named in his honour, The Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre, and for older persons he was the other half of the comedic duo Miss Lou and Maas Ran, with Louise Bennett."
"Many people just see him as a comedian, but he was also a serious Shakespeare actor, a researcher into Jamaican folklore and did a lot of work with public education as it relates to diabetes," she notes.
Gloudon-Nelson adds that many are not aware of his work with National Hero Marcus Garvey with performances and the organisation of events at Edelweiss Park, the Jamaican headquarters of Garvey's United Negro Improvement Association.
The exhibition is also expected to offer insights into Maas Ran's work as a writer, his years as a DJ on a sound system as well as work on the Sagwa Medicine Travelling show as part of the duo Amos and Andy with Lee Gordon, which added entertainment to an open-air sales pitch for various medicines and ointments in the late-1930s to early 40s.
At the birthday salute Gloudon-Nelson says a number of persons, including actors Leonie Forbes, Oliver Samuels and Volier Johnson, will pay tribute to Maas Ran, who died in August 1980.
The 2011/12 national pantomime Anancy & Goat Head Soup was dedicated to Maas Ran, who is perhaps best remembered for his development of the Anancy character for stage.
He acted in a total of 29 pantomimes and a number of radio dramas and films, including High Wind in Jamaica with Anthony Quinn.