Ashe into new stage with DED LEF
Jamaica's theatre space will get a much-needed addition on Friday, January 23, when The Ashe Performing Arts Company opens its Vibes Theatre. Located at 8 Cargill Avenue, St Andrew, it will be the company's first theatre.
According to Conroy Wilson, Ashe's creative director, it has always been the organisation's vision to re-establish its own performance space after vacating their previous centre in Nannyville 12 years ago.
Wilson said funding for the theatre's development came mainly from the company's resources, acquired through performances over the years. They were also assisted by the Jamaica Public Service Company, which provided the utility poles which form a part of the theatre's structure. Also contributing to the effort were board members and other friends of Ashe, including Robin Baston, Michael Lorde, Nadia Roxburgh and Christopher McHayle.
The official opening night will also see the debut performance of a new production, Ded Leff. Written and directed by the experienced Michael Holgate, the musical chronicles the life of a young man who, when still a boy, migrated to England with his mother. Upon his mother's death, he returns to Jamaica for her burial and to claim his inheritance.
However, there are challenges as, in her will, his mother cited some things he must fulfil before gaining access to what she left behind. Some of the things stipulated in the will include the young man travelling to various local sites, as well as participating in cultural activities with his estranged father and antagonistic sister.
Faybian Grizzle, who has been with Ashe for three years, plays the lead role in Ded Leff.
"I play Jonathan and I'm absolutely excited and honoured to lead the company's next big hit," he told The Gleaner. "This is my first major lead solo role. I play a classy British man, so I had to work on getting the accent together, but it was all a learning experience and I'm grateful."
He leads a cast which includes several other members of Ashe, such as Ann Ivy, Brittany Bailey and Rudolph Tomlinson.
The Ashe Performing Arts Company prides itself on preserving Jamaican theatre and culture, which was reason enough for the organisation to put on the production, said Wilson.
"The Ashe Company has been involved in the performing arts for more than 20 years and we want to tell the stories that maximise our Jamaican music, to create a different platform which showcases our culture and reminds us of the strength of our Jamaican identity," he said.