Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Hollywood director sees one-woman show's potential

Published:Sunday | January 29, 2017 | 1:00 AMKimberley Small
From left: Professor Carolyn Cooper, Joel Zwick, Debra Ehrhardt, Zachary Harding, and Mark Dawson at last week’s launch of Ehrhardt’s one -woman show ‘Cock Tales: Shame on Me!’ at House of Dancehall, Cargill Avenue, St Andrew.
Joel Zwick with Debra Ehrhardt.
Debra Ehrhardt, who wrote and performs in the one-woman show ‘Cock Tales: Shame on Me!’
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Jamaica-born actress Debra Ehrhardt is bringing her second one-woman play, the tongue-wagging Cock Tales: Shame On Me! home. It began with sex as the subject but soon developed into introspection that the actress deemed necessary to share.

The play is directed by Hollywood film and television director Joel Zwick, most recognised for the romantic comedy success My Big Fat Greek Wedding. "She's my connection to Jamaica and I love this place. This place is great!" Zwick told The Sunday Gleaner. My Big Fat Greek Wedding, released in 2002, went on to become one of the highest-grossing romantic comedy films at the box office.

The launch of Cock Tales took place at the House of Dancehall, Cargill Avenue, St Andrew, on January 24. Zwick and Ehrhardt were guests of honour, sharing the stage with MC, Professor Carolyn Cooper; Michael Dawson (producer of Cock Tales); and Zachary Harding, board member of JAMPRO.

Zwick was introduced to Ehrhardt by actress Rita Wilson, wife of Hollywood A-lister Tom Hanks. "She (Wilson) saw Debra do this one showing of Jamaica Farewell and thought that it could have the same potential as My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which started as a one-woman show," he said. "So she brought me in - since I directed My Big Fat Greek Wedding - to take over Jamaica Farewell.

"If we found the people to do it, we think we could have made a very, very good movie of Jamaica Farewell, and I'm even talking right now to the JAMPRO people, who are thinking about that as a possible project that could be shot 98 per cent in Jamaica," he said.

Zwick's first visit to the island was as a result of his involvement with Jamaica Farewell "but that was on the north coast, in Ocho Rios, and places like that. This is the first time that she's brought me actually into Kingston.

"We did a few productions of it with Rita, but then Rita got sick and then went on to things in her own career, and the project kind of fizzled out as a potential movie," Zwick continued. "But she [Ehrhardt] still played it for years, successfully, and now she's picked up this new one."

 

OVERCOMING GUILT

 

"There is nothing new in Cock Tales about sex. I can't shed any light on human sexuality. I am no expert on that subject, but, when it comes to overcoming guilt, that is an area where I am an expert. Guilt is something that we have all experienced," Ehrhardt said.

"I think it's her most dangerous piece. There's no two ways about it," Zwick told The Sunday Gleaner. "But it's funny, it's charming, it's touching. It does a lot of things, and we're hoping it speaks to the women of Jamaica because that's what it's set out to do."

Zwick told The Sunday Gleaner that he had spent his visit getting in touch with the Jamaican film industry. "I'm finding out a bit about it, and I know that they have not yet, for years, broken out. But a lot of it has to do with the fact that they are speaking... they're not doing English. They're not speaking Jamaican English. They're speaking patois. What that does, it takes a Jamaican film and makes it a foreign film. Jamaica is not foreign. Jamaica speaks English," he said.