Straight talk from Nadean Rawlins

Straight talk from Nadean Rawlins

Observer senior writer

Monday, November 11, 2019

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MEN “getting jacket” has been a sensitive topic in Jamaica for many years. Though a serious issue, fathers at the receiving end of fake paternities are often ridiculed; their devious spouses, however, are often scorned.

Since July when Straight Jacket opened at Centrestage Theatre in Kingston, Nadean Rawlins has become aware of these knotty scenario. She plays Ellie in the Jambiz International play, alongside Glen “Titus” Campbell as her husband Greg; and Courtney Wilson as Jerry, who claims their son may be his.

Rawlins, who is in her 24th season as an actress, is unaware of statistics that say 25 per cent of Jamaican men are recipients of 'jackets'.

“I am on the fence, to be honest. It leaves to question though, how we are socialised with the family values and attitudes we have,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

As soon as she accepted the role, Rawlins recalls undergoing comprehensive research to make Ellie a convincing character.

“The preparation was very thorough to include a general discussion with the cast and directors about the character breakdown, the story and the backstory. My personal preparation was stepping back and actually looking at the character in my mind on how she thinks, operates in her space and deals with the situations as they arise,” she explained.

That hard work seems to have paid off. The Patrick Brown-written, co-directed Straight Jacket has consistently paid to packed houses with patrons drawn to the 'mix up' between Ellie, Greg and Jerry.

Success has become par for the course for Rawlins, who has established herself among Jamaican theatre's dynamic personalities. After 10 years acting in pantomimes, she moved into more commercial productions including Two Can Play and Love Letters.

Last year, Rawlins won the Actor Boy Award for Best Actress In A Supporting Role in the University Players' Telling Tales. She has also directed the plays Country Duppy and Her Last Cry, and is principal of Raw Talent, a company that grooms aspirants for a career in theatre and the arts.

Though mainstream theatre is fulfilling, Rawlins points to the pantomime years for her most challenging role.

“The highlight of my career is playing Miss Annie in the National Pantomime, Miss Annie in 2002. It was the first time I was able to play a very complex character early in my career,” she said.

Straight Jacket is scheduled to close its run on November 28 at the Centrestage Theatre.

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