Mon | Sep 24, 2018

On the Reckord | The Blue Room, a unique theatre space - Part II

Published:Friday | August 17, 2018 | 12:10 AMMichael Reckord/Gleaner Writer
Tulloch at the entrance to The Blue Room Theatre.
Trishana Wright (Kysanne Williams) and Rolando Fagan (Jermaine).
Tulloch’s new play ‘Sugar Daddy’ has the actors stripped down.
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David Tulloch was in his office in the Phoenix Theatre complex on Haining Road, and still in his church clothes on the Sunday morning when I interviewed him about The Blue Room. He has turned the small space - originally a conference room - into a unique theatre.

He told me how he reasoned with himself one day saying, "With the economy where it is now, why kill yourself to fill 300 seats (the capacity of the Phoenix Theatre) when sometimes you're getting 40 people? You need to have a smaller seating space. I realised that a theatre of 80 seats and a 12 x 9-foot stage allows you to mount an inexpensive production."

The first production staged in The Blue Room, in May 2016, was Rashiem Shepherd's Undercover Craziness, an experimental work.

Since then, the theatre - really a multipurpose space with professional lighting and sound equipment - has been the venue for not only plays, but poetry nights, one-person shows, and several symposiums.

Though tiny, the space has brought honour to several theatre practitioners. "Many Actor Boy awards have been given for Blue Room productions," Tulloch said, adding, "and there have been Best Production nominations, among others."

A recent work that Tulloch is very proud of is Sabrina Thomas' first play, As He Watches, which he directed. Thomas is one of a number of young actors, writers and directors that Tulloch has been helping in various ways with Blue Room productions over the past year.

Another is Orlando Sinclair, who is usually a producer, but who in June directed Young and Wreckless, which Tulloch wrote for him. "I guided him in his directorial debut," Tulloch said proudly.

 

NUTURING SPACE

 

He continued, "I have dedicated a large part of this year to helping them (fledgling theatre practitioners)," Tulloch said. He argues, "The Blue Room enables them to start off small and grow. It's like nurturing a baby."

It's his way of giving back to the industry he has been working in for 26 years. His investment in what he calls "the younger generation," though he is still a relatively young man himself, is paying off. "People are liking the quality of their work, and I'm happy to be a part of that," he told me.

He added, "The industry needs to encourage young people. We can't close our doors to them, or we, other theatre lovers will suffer as well."

Tulloch's most recent play, Sugar Daddy, an erotic melodrama, opened in The Blue Room on August 1. He has written and directed the play for his Probemaster Productions, with him in the title role. He told me that it would be the final of his three erotic plays (the others are Risque and 3SOME), even though the first two nights were sold out and the audiences responded enthusiastically.

Others in the energetic cast are Trishana Wright (Kysanne), Samantha Brevett (Anita), Rolando Fagan (Jermaine) and Kimberly Gray (Moya). Everybody sheds some, if not all, of their clothes at some time during the fast-moving play - which has, as the tickets promise/warn, "profanity, nudity and strong sexual content."

The story is about serious situations - one couple on the verge of divorce because their business is failing; another breaking up because of infidelity and poverty. Tulloch even calls the work a tragedy, though he writes and directs it in a larger-than-life, over-the-top way and his audience laughs continuously.

Interestingly, about two-thirds of the audience are women, who clearly enjoy the sexy goings-on as much as the men. Playing weekends, the show runs until the end of August.