UTech Jamaica launches new theatre
The cast of Rolando Alberts, Raashan Dawkins, Zuri Nguvu and Christopher Coke in performance.

THE University of Technology Jamaica has opened a new theatre space, located at the Centre for the Arts building.

The space was opened to the public on January 27, when the Papine campus came alive with the première of a new Jamaican play, The Gift — the Psychology of Madness written by Bethlehem teachers' college lecturer Dr Norman Pottinger.

The theatre is located near the Caribbean Sculpture Park, the only one of its kind in the Caribbean, where patrons can view the beautiful and imaginative sculptures before and after a show.

Director of arts and culture at the university, Philip Clarke opened the night with a recap of his dream-turned-reality to establish a theatre at the university, especially with the cast and crew comprising past and present students.

Patrons expressed their delight in what they described as an excellent production.

"Everything was awesome! Truly a proud experience," said Dorset Pottinger, assistant registrar, student services and wife of the playwright.

Dr Craig McNally, senior counsellor and theatre practitioner, exclaimed how superb the acting was and said he hopes the Actor Boy Awards judges get to see the quality presented on stage.

The story is about two couples who navigate ageing, mental health issues, marital challenges, and sexuality as they battle a mental breakdown.

Dick Webb, played by Rolando Alberts, portrays a middle class, egotistical, proud man who refuses help to lift him out of his financial abyss and struggles bitterly with his mentally distressed wife. This is compounded by the fact that his wife Joan, played by Rashaan Dawkins, believes she has nothing more to live for. Her saving grace is Anna Coleman, played by Zuri Nguvu, who tries hard to be a supportive friend. She has her own challenges as she is married to a much older man, Stephen Coleman, played by Christopher Coke. The dynamics come together on stage skillfully directed by Gracia Thompson, accomplished drama tutor and actor.

The play is available for special performances and the theatre is open for staging productions. It has an intimate seating capacity of 60 people and plans are in place to expand up to 100 seats.

The UTech Jamaica Centre for the Arts theatre was outfitted with the support of the CHASE Fund which sponsored the stage lights and sound, completely transforming the space.

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