Viva The Ward

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

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THE 2014 Kingston On The Edge Urban Arts Festival's effort to restore the Ward Theatre got going Sunday with an outstanding show at the historic Kingston landmark.

Interestingly, opening the afternoon of eclectic entertainment was the Alpha Boys School Orchestra, produced by Jamaica's most renowned musical cradle (Alpha Boys School) which is also experiencing survival challenges.

The youthful aggregation presented an organised, lively set of ska, jazz and reggae, living up to the lofty standards of the iconic institution they represent.

Then came the Moder-Ashbourne Gang comprising veteran composer/violinst/keyboardist Peter Ashbourne, his Austrian wife Rosina Moder-Ashbourne who plays the recorder, and their sons, drummer/producer Jeremy and pianist Joel. Their performances of Take Five, For Your Love and Biddy Biddy stood out.

Storyteller Jean Small was in fine form with a piece dubbed Relationshits -- a 'dramedy' about a persistent suitor.

The performance company, Street Meets Studio, also went over well with its dramatisation of Relationships: Time, Space, Music People.

Fabian Thomas's spoken word set called Life, was dominated by provocative messages which climaxed with his appeal for the preservation of the Ward.

"The Ward Theatre must be saved. I invoke the name of every actor, every director, every performer who ever graced the stage of the Ward Theatre. ASHE!"

Thomas was followed by the dynamic dub poet Randy McClaren, the self-proclaimed Creative Activist. He also addressed social issues, opening with the call-and-response, A WHO DIS? before going into Armadale Children on Fire.

Venezuelan guitarist/singer, Luis Felipe Bellorin, did well with Caravana (Song of Peace), Song For The Little Children, A Piece of The Conversation, among others.

The final set featured Third World guitarist Stephen 'Cat' Coore on cello accompanied by veteran keyboardist Robbie Lyn. They did Forever Young, Armagideon Time and Redemption Song.

After an appeal by Coore for sustained support of the Ward, he and Lyn were joined by other performers for a rendition of One Love.

KOTE co-founder Enola Williams has dubbed the event a "massive success".

"It was a huge undertaking and a logistical challenge as we had to bring in sound and lighting and fans, but it was completely worth it. Even though it is damaged, we were able to breathe life into the Ward, and many have expressed how touched they were to be in the space," said Williams.

— Basil Walters




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