Wed | Jul 18, 2018

New direction at Courtyard Theatre

Published:Friday | March 24, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Devil (left) and Ti-Jean in 'Ti-Jean and His Brothers', being directed by Jheanelle Saunders.
Aaliyah Smith, who was awarded gold by the Jamaica Cultural Develpment Commission, is Miss Millie in the play being directed by Damion Radcliffe for Courtyard Theatre 2017.
Jheanelle Saunders (facing camera) speaks theatre with her colleagues.

Tomorrow's fourth staging of Courtyard Theatre at Campion College, Hope Road, St Andrew, takes the event into a new direction. The outdoor theatre event in the school's courtyard has always been a public passing of the director's baton from Drama teacher Damion Radcliffe to some of his students. This time around, though, it has added events and a few words to its title - Arts Festival 2017.

"We wanted an arts atmosphere," Radcliffe told The Gleaner. To that end, the school's Art and Music departments will also be involved through the contribution of teachers and students. Live art, with artists putting brush to canvas under the scrutiny of audience members, is part of the art experience which starts at 3 p.m., before the plays and other performances at 4 p.m.

The student directors are Annakay Hudson(A Dollar for Dog), Rebecca Mahfood (Tacka's Tale) and Jheanelle Saunders (Ti-Jean and His Brothers).




Saunders, who is closing in on the end of her first year of sixth form, told The Gleaner that directing "has been a challenge. I wanted to experience something new, challenging, and this certainly does that".

Still, Saunders said, "I had fun doing it, interpreting the language."

Directing her fellow students has not been difficult, Saunders said, noting that "for the most part, they have been co-operative. We do have our little quarrels, but we understand the work has to be done and we need to put on a show."

She is doing biology, pure math and economics, in addition to communication studies, and intends to do a minor in theatre at the university level.

"I want to be on stage, acting," Saunders said.

Radcliffe, who will be directing Good Morning Miss Millie, noted that Campion has an award-winning dance ensemble, and "as we grow, we hope to pull all of the arts under the umbrella".

Having a principal, Grace Baston, who values the arts, helps give Courtyard Theatre a strong foundation, Radcliffe said.

"It keeps getting better and better," he said of Courtyard Theatre. Tomorrow's staging is slated to end at 8 p.m.