UWI playwrights take spotlight

Thursday, May 17, 2018

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The University Players is making its contribution to the 70th anniversary of the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, by staging works of three of Jamaica's playwrights: Patrick Brown, Basil Dawkins, and Dahlia Harris, with the launch of its Graduate Playwrights Season (GPS).

The season features Brown's December; To The Finish by Harris and Dawkins' acclaimed Champagne and Sky Juice, began on May 11, and will play for the next two weekends at the Philip Sherlock Centre of the Creative Arts at the UWI, Mona campus.

“We wanted to use our slot in May to shine the light on some of the institution's graduates,” said Dr Brian Heap of the GPS 2018 initiative. “The writers were contacted and agreed to have some of their favourite pieces showcased in 'staged readings' something that we don't see very much of these days on our theatrical landscape.”

“Staged readings were made popular in Jamaica back in the 1990s by the Company Theatre and are a great way to give an audience a taste of the show without all the 'bells and whistles' that usually accompany a full-blown production,” said Dr Heap. “The actors have their scripts in their hands and there are usually limited sets, sounds, and lighting. The point is to focus on the stories through the writing and give audiences a taste of how a full-blown performance would sound,” he continued.

December is about an elderly couple who spent most of their adult lives as immigrants to the USA; but who have returned home to live out their last days. The staged reading is directed by University Players' artistic associate Nadean Rawlins and features veteran theatre stalwarts Grace McGhie and Earle Brown. The show will again be read this Saturday, May 19 at 8:00 pm and next Sunday, May 27 at 6:00 pm.

Harris' To the Finish is a compelling drama about an athlete's struggle to compete in track and field and how she tackles the temptation of performance enhancing drugs. Directed by Paul Issa, To the Finish features thespians Alwyn Scott, Melward Morris, Doreen King, Philip Clark, and Katherine Johnson. It will again be read on Sunday, May 20 at 6:00 pm, and on Friday, May 25 at 8:00 pm.

Champagne and Sky Juice, Dawkins' first commercially successful theatrical work, was originally staged in 1986. This time round it features Gracia Thompson and Canute Fagan and is directed by University Players artistic associate Jean-Paul Menou. Champagne & Sky Juice chronicles the ups and downs of the lives of a husband and wife on opposite ends of the political spectrum before and after the elections in Jamaica in 1980. The play will be read tomorrow at 8:00 pm and next Saturday, May 26 at 8:00 pm.

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