Two cannot play the same game... Paul O. Beale gives other side to the 'Delcita Coldwater' story
In December 2014, she said she was leaving theatre for good but after only a few months away from the spotlight, actress Andrea 'Delcita' Wright, announced her comeback to the stage. Her quick return left many pondering the reason for the comeback and in a Sunday Gleaner interview last month, the actress sought to clear the air around the issue. Wright claimed that well-known director, Paul O. Beale had been asking too much of her by way of royalties for using the character Delcita Coldwater. As a result, she made the decision to sever all ties with the director and make a few changes to the character before moving forward. However, as the saying goes 'there are always two sides to a story'. In this Sunday Gleaner exclusive, the other side of this story is brought to life, as Paul O. Beale reveals his version of the Delcita Coldwater saga.
For over three decades, the esteemed director/writer/producer has given Jamaicans countless roots plays (Granny Rule, Bashment Granny, Di Driva etc.) and even more memorable characters including Delcita Coldwater. As the creative mind behind the character, Beale said he was disappointed when he heard his name in the media surrounding the issue and decided to give his side of the story to balance the scales.
"I am not doing this interview with a view to denigrate anyone, but rather, to get the facts in on this public story," he said. "It is so that persons can be given a chance to learn the truth and to make the correct judgement if they are so inclined to do."
He went on to explain that the issue between himself and Wright as to who developed and contributed to the character Delcita, is unnecessary because although Wright gave Delcita a face (literally with the black make-up) the character is his brainchild.
"I hope this will clear up the misconception. The argument about who created the character is ludicrous because having written over 10 plays with the character, and having directed many of these and having had other persons play the character before her, there can be no question about who created the character in the first place," he said. "The question of whether she gave any contribution to the character is also a waste of time, because everyone who plays a character must bring something to it. Does Sean Connery claim James Bond because he played it? Should the other actors who played Delcita Coldwater before her (Wright) also claim ownership of the character?"
Beale said he was disappointed when he heard Wright in the media talking about the 'Delcita issue' when she gave him her word following discussions that she would stop using the character. "I was in hospital at the time so I decided not to be upset because that would not be good for my health," he revealed.
"I however, could not avoid being disappointed. She had told me prior to my being hospitalised, that she would cease the use of the character. Then, in later media releases, she made it seem as though I wanted more for the character. That was a hard pill to swallow." In her interview last month, Wright said the name Delcita Coldwater, was not registered, but Beale claims otherwise. "The name is solely owned by Paul O. Beale. I created the name and the name is my copyrighted material."
As far as royalties go, Beale said he did demand that Wright pay to use the character Delcita, after she branched out on her own, but denied asking for more than what was agreed. "What you have to understand is that there was a number of contractual arrangements between Andrea Wright and various persons or organisations regarding her playing the character of Delcita Coldwater," he explained.
"The only time we have ever had a real problem, was when Miss Wright started using the character under the auspices of her own company or business. Under her company/business, the idea was for her to pay a rate from the gate proceeds, to the creator of the character, while enjoying the generosity of not having to pay a fee for the script."
He went on to say that it would be inappropriate to reveal the exact percentage of the royalties Wright was asked to pay, but said it was between 10-20% and insisted that he never asked for the maximum amount (20%).
"I have never demanded more than was agreed in the first place. There were times when Miss Wright would ask that I forgo getting a fee for particular shows, because of the small takings at the box office for those shows. So there were many times when no money was collected and times when less than what was due was collected."
Beale went on to say that as the creator of the character, Delcita, he reserves the right to use that character in future plays with the role being taken on by someone else. "That precedent has been set from in the past when a character such as Big Pants was played by four persons including myself. Pumpkin was played by four persons including Wright. This is nothing new or unexpected."
On the matter of whether the issue will be brought before a court, Beale said that should he chose to go that route, it would be a private matter. "Whether I will take legal action for anything is something I would not discuss in the public stage. Nobody has to know, not the public. The one thing that I will say though, is that I have been recording all evidence of her using the name Delcita on promotional materials (billboards, flyers, tickets, interviews, press releases, etc.) all over the world, because these are money making activities that are infringing on the copyright of Delcita Coldwater." Beale said he hopes that Wright can move on with her career without using the name Delcita Coldwater, or any part of it, because the character is a part of his legacy. "I am hoping that she moves on with her talent and not the name of my character, because it does not belong to her, it belongs to me and my children. If she wants to use the black face, the rotten teeth, the twist feet and the sprawling palms, that is her right. She just needs to leave the name Delcita Coldwater or any part (of the name) out of all her promotional efforts or anything that she is using to make money. If the name is used, I shall be entitled, cumulatively to a fee as set in precedent so far."
Beale just completed a season of the TV series The enTRAPreneur and is currently in the middle of Bloodline, another of his TV series which airs on local television.