Mon | May 29, 2017

Ashe enjoys success with new theatre space

Published:Monday | May 18, 2015 | 5:00 AMShereita Grizzle
Executive Director of Ashe, Conroy Wilson.
Colourful costumes and movement bring members of the Ashe Performing Arts Company to vivid life.
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Back in January when Ashe opened the doors to their own theatre space known as the Vibes Theatre, they did so with the hope of seeing success, especially as they were christening the new stage with a brand new production titled Ded Leff.

Fast-forward a few months, and the success the group had been hoping for has materialised, as the production which was set to close in March is still running at the Vibes Theatre.

Speaking with The Gleaner, Ashe's creative director, Conroy Wilson, said he was pleased with the rate of success the play has seen since it opened. "We are very satisfied with the response the play has been getting, so far," he said. "There is a lot of competition around us, with so many theatre spaces located in the area, but we are thankful that persons have been choosing Ded Leff to satisfy their entertainment needs." Wilson also revealed that being in their own space has contributed tremendously to the success they have seen. "It has always been our intention to have our shows done in our own space, and having that dream come to reality has brought us success in its own right," he said. "Usually in Jamaica, productions don't run this long, but because we are in our own space, we can show for as long as we want."

TAKING IT INTERNATIONAL

Although being in his own space has allowed Wilson the opportunity to have a show run for months on local soil, he has plans to take his production international. "We have perfected this production and we are about to travel with it. We are taking it to the UK, the USA and Canada, and we are looking forward to sharing Jamaican culture with the world."

And the Jamaican culture is exactly what is being put on display in the play written and directed by the experienced Michael Holgate. The production chronicles the experiences of a young Jamaican boy who migrated to England with his mother. Upon her death, he is requested to return to Jamaica and fulfil various tasks stipulated by his mother in her will, tasks he must accomplish before he can gain access to her inheritance.

The play incorporates a large selection of reggae songs, a move the director said was intentional. "Anywhere you go in the world, people associate Jamaica with reggae music, and so it was only natural that with a play aimed at showcasing the best of our culture, that I incorporate reggae music," Holgate said. He also expressed that with the Jamaican culture being so rich and diverse, it has allowed him to come up with countless story ideas. "Our culture is one worth exploring and we have so many stories to tell here in Jamaica, so much so that I have already began working on the next production to succeed Ded Leff."

While admitting that the theatre space in Jamaica is not what it used to be, Holgate offered solutions on how to breathe new life into the industry. "As theatre practitioners, we need to keep reinventing ourselves," he explained. "We need to keep experimenting and finding new, innovative ways, to connect with our audiences. Theatre helps us to hold on to who we are as a people and as artists, we have to keep working at it if we love and believe in what we do."

entertainment@gleanerjm.com