Whylie, Requa, Gloudon to be lauded

By Richard Johnson
Observer senior reporter

Monday, March 25, 2019

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Three stalwarts of the Jamaican theatre, Marjorie Whylie, Barbara Requa and Barbara Gloudon are to be honoured at this year's staging of the Women in Theatre Festival to be held at from April 8-14.

Conceptualiser of the event, Dahlia Harris told the Jamaica Observer that this year the focus is on pay homage to these women who have contributed to the growth and development of local theatre outside of writing, acting or directing.

“We are celebrating these women and their work in areas which are central to theatre but oftentimes goes unnoticed. Everybody is aware of Barbara Gloudon's work as a playwright given her work with the national pantomime over the years, but few people stop to think of her work as a lyricist, writing all the lyrics for the songs in these productions. So that is what we are focusing on this year. Marjorie Whylie's work as an ethnomusicologist and its impact on local theatre is what we are looking at. For Barbara Requa, she was one of the founding members of the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC) more than 50 years ago and over the years through her work with the School of Dance she has had an influence on choreography for theatre.”

“We are so proud of these three women and we have come to realise that their work is critical to what we are practitioners do today, therefore it is only fitting that we recognise them in this forum,” Harris continued.

The Jamaica Women in Theatre Festival began three years ago as an avenue to celebrate the role and function of women in this space. Harris explained that the festival brings theatre practitioners together to understand the issues which are singular to women in theatre. It allows for open discussions and the sharing of ideas on how women are portrayed on stage, how they are directed, and how the issues that affect women can be brought to the stage.

This year the first four days of the festival will be what Harris describes as the artistic showcase, wherein productions written by, starring and directed by women are showcased.

“On day one it's all about productions starring women will take centrestage. This year we will have a number of our women take to the stage including Ruth Ho Shing and Maylynne Lowe performing an excerpt from Basil Dawkins' Mass Matt Comes to Town; Aisha Davis Davis from As Good As It Gets; the women of Tribe Sankofa and Belinda Reid and Crystal Fletcher from Fabian Barracks' Force Ripe.

On the second day it will be the time to focus on the writers. So we will exhibit excerpts by Janique Francis who won the award for Best New Play at the Tallawah festival at UWI this year. In addition there will be works by Sabrena Thomas and Rosemarie Voodrouw among other writers. The final day of the artistic showcase is all about the directors and we will focus on new works directed by Suzanne Beadle, Nicole Williams and others,” Harris shared.

The last two days of the festival will be dedicated to workshops to sharpen the skills and talents of theatre practitioners and will focus on directing women on stage. The presenters for these seminars will include Eugene Williams, Trevor Nairne, Paul O Beale and Carolyn Allen.

“The artistic showcase will be held at the amphitheatre at the School of Drama - Edna Manley College while the workshops will be held at Jampro in New Kingston,” Harris added.

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