Theatre in Campion’s Courtyard
ON SATURDAY evening, there will be 120 minutes of theatre in the courtyard at Campion College. It is not planned as a continuous two hours of student thespians trodding the cobblestones at the Hopefield Avenue, St Andrew, high school, but four 30-minute productions of abridged versions of established plays.
There will also be live and recorded music. Damion Radcliffe, drama teacher at Campion, told The Gleaner that the event is being done jointly by the school’s Drama and Music departments, with proceeds going towards the Campion theatre ensemble’s trip to England in late March for the Shakespeare Festival.
This comes after winning the inaugural Jamaica National Shakespeare’s Schools’ Championship last September. However, Radcliffe makes it clear that the school is not required to contribute financially to actually making the journey.
Saturday’s excerpts are from Odale’s Choice, the school’s 2016 Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s (JCDC) competition; A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet; and the school’s winning adaptation of Macbeth. It is not the first time around for Courtyard Theatre, which started in 2013 withBelly WomanandHeaven’s Above, Radcliffe directing both. The following year, Dr Brian Heap was the guest director for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. After a break last year, Courtyard Theatre returns with a format that Radcliffe had intended from the beginning.
There are student directors, with Deshaun Brandford and Darla Campbell in charge of Romeo and Juliet, while Shae-DuVaughn Ellis and Justin Duncan direct A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Both productions came out of class assignments.
Jheanelle Saunders directs Odale’s Choice and Radcliffe marshals the student thespians for Macbeth. “This year is the first time it is enjoying the very reason for it, which is for students to direct plays and showcase their work,” Radcliffe said.
He sees multiple benefits for the students involved in Courtyard Theatre. “I think they get exposure not just to the audience, but to the process of staging a production. I had directed most of the plays in the series, but this production team is made up of students. So they are exposed to being onstage, offstage, and backstage, understanding theatre.”
In addition, he said: “The students are confident in the public seeing their work. It is not just a class assignment anymore.” As a school, Courtyard Theatre is an avenue for Campion to show its “artistic intelligence”.
Radcliffe intends for the series to continue. And as for doing Courtyard Theatre in the first place, infrastructure developments were key. “When it (the courtyard) was constructed, I felt it was a very nice space, ‘very open’, and I felt I wanted to do outdoor theatre, and the space was just begging for something to be put in there. That’s why we did it,” Radcliffe said.