Calling for 'The Ward'


Friday, December 29, 2017

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When will the Ward Theatre come into action again? One of the most famous Jamaican centres of the arts, the Ward originated as a landmark in 1912, presented to the city of Kingston by Charles James Ward, a lieutenant colonel and custos of Kingston.

The Ward Theatre, located in the area called North Parade, downtown Kingston, has managed to survive changes in Jamaican history. Over the years, in Jamaica as elsewhere, wars came and wars went and, despite harsh times, the Ward offered encouragement and hope to the people via the productions staged there.

It wasn't only the upper class of citizens who went to the Ward seeking enrichment, the common people had their place too. Many know of the seating area called the “Fowl Roost”. The title was given to the seats at the uppermost floor where the less affluent people were encouraged to pay the price of admission so that they too could become patrons of the theatre.

Great challenges have faced the management team for the Ward over the years, especially in maintaining the structure of Colonel Ward's gift. The Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation has responsibility for maintaining the Ward and making sure it serves the wider community. The current building is still under renovation with hopes that a resuscitated Ward awaits.

The question is: Will the Ward fulfil the intentions that the city officials have? The question is asked with no ill will, just a query on what is left to be accomplished. Whatever it takes to shine a new light on what is to be accomplished, we would love to hear. After a recent burst of activity, visible progress has slowed. Some explanation is needed to give the public reasons as to what is happening. Thought is to be given to the artistes and members of the public, along with the current continuing creators of today's artistic development, who may have a chance to perform on that stage.

If you're interested in the story of the Ward Theatre, get a copy of The Jamaican Theatre: Highlights of the Performing Arts in the Twentieth Century. The late Wycliffe Bennett and his wife Hazel together co-authored the impressive book which should be put to use as an instrument of learning. The book covers an important aspect of our history and should be accessible to students and lovers of the performing arts. It is also a good read for those who value the creativity of Jamaican artists.

Hazel Bennett is still with us and we wish her well. We continue thanking today's leaders for the support of the arts in a time of enlightenment in the regional environment. Shouldn't this be the time, therefore, for lights to return to the stage of the Ward once more, as soon as possible?

Many people today have been asking: What is the future of the Ward Theatre? Can we save it? If so, how soon can the power of the Ward be regained again?

New year 'round the corner…

Here's hoping all the demons of hell leave decent people alone. As for the care of children, there are no words enough to say what we want. The evil ones who hurt children must be stopped — and the sooner the better.

We spent far too much of 2017 dealing with unkind and ugly acts day after day, week after week and month after month. One can only hope that we can do better in the coming year.

For many Jamaicans, the wish for the new year is for us to find peace, which reminds me of a saying I picked up along the way: “Peace is not the absence of conflict.” I take it to mean we'll always have our differences, but we don't have to kill each other over it. So here's my message: Don't waste time on war. Let's go for peace… try it nuh!

All the best for 2018; peace, love and light.

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or




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