Tuesdays @ the theatre | From audio mixing to play director
As an audio-mixing engineer, Orlando Sinclair was presented with recordings of voices and music, which he was responsible for shaping into a cohesive, compelling song. Now that he is making his debut as a play director with Young & Wreckless, which opens at the Phoenix Theatre on Haining Road, New Kingston, later this month, he finds similarities between the two roles.
"The musicians and the singers bring a script to you. You have to interpret it - drop in the piano, put reverb on the snare, harmony singers up or in the background. It is just the same thing," Sinclair told The Gleaner. During a recent rehearsal at Phoenix's Blue Room (Young & Wreckless will run in the main 300-seat theatre), apart from going through individual scenes, Sinclair made adjustments to the script with the actors. The thespians include Ricky Rowe, Crystal Fletcher, Daniela Gordon, Ryan Graham, and Junior 'Half a Dog' Williams.
Sinclair did not plan on going into directing, but the script for Young & Wreckless was presented to him by David Tulloch, his partner in Jam Stage Productions. "He just said to me, 'I am going to write a script, but you have to direct it,'" he said. "Me say,' You going throw me in the deep sea?' Him say, 'Yeah, you been around the thing for a while.'"
That 'a while' began with Sinclair staging Bashment Granny 2 in England. "Deborah 'Dainty' Cassanova called me and said, 'Make me an' you keep a play'. I did the research and called my father. He made the link and we kept four shows in England," Sinclair said. Three of those shows were at the Hackney Empire, which has a capacity of 1,200 and the last at Brixton Academy, which has a 3,000-person capacity, were all sold out, and Sinclair knew he was on to something.
He came to Jamaica and got involved with Stages Productions, saying that he and Bunny Allen had a "good understanding". Then, with RBT Productions, Sinclair produced its first play, Clash. Again, there was an England connection as four shows were held there, plus there were three in New York.
More recently, he has produced Bad Breed and Not My Child. In addition to being his directing debut, Young & Wreckless is Sinclair's third production going it alone. Distinguishing the roles, he says the producer comes up with the money, does media relations and all the logistics. The director "translates what the writer has put down. He is responsible for bringing it to life". What he is now responsible for translating is a tale involving male friends, 'young gal business', and the competition between older and young males, a mortgage well past due, and false hair.
Still, Sinclair says that he has been getting guidance from a number of experienced persons, among them Gregory Thames, Michael 'Stringbean' Nicholson, Volier Johnson, Deon Silvera, and Dahlia Harris. "They have all made suggestions and given me pointers," he said.
And as a first-timer in the director's chair, Sinclair knows he is being observed. "Me under scrutiny, like 'Weh him a come from? Him know theatre? Him nuh known'. But it is an art and all the arts are interesting to me. Me a interpret it my way," he said. And he compares that interpretation to an audio-mixing process, where he says different engineers will create different final sounds. "There is no wrong mix. It is how the engineer interprets it. There is no wrong direction apart from the technicalities," Sinclair said.