Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Life was Louis' stage - Much laughter, little tears as friends and family say farewell to a pioneer of local theatre

Published:Sunday | August 7, 2016 | 8:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris
Louis Marriott’s family members (from left): Jesse McClure, grandson; Lavinia McClure, daughter; Priscilla McClure, granddaughter; and Jonah McClure, grandson, with a portrait of the man at the thanksgiving service last Friday.
Sharing the pleasant memories at the thanksgiving service for Louis Marriott are theatre personalities (from left) Deonne Silvera, Ruth Ho-Shing, Christopher ‘Johnny’ Daley, and Pablo Hoilett.
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The life and legacy of Louis Marriott took centre stage last Friday as his friends and family bid farewell to one of the pioneers of Jamaican theatre.

The distinguished playwright and actor led a very illustrious life which spanned theatre, politics and media. His widow Erica Brown Marriott described him as a "one-man band" since he was also a journalist, poet, director, teacher and mathematician.

The Jamaica College old boy was the executive officer of the Michael Manley Foundation and also served as a press secretary for the late prime minister.

Marriott also lectured in Britain on Commonwealth and Caribbean affairs, was a BBC radio writer and producer, and was also the founding member of the Jamaica Association of Dramatic Artists.

 

LOVER OF SPORTS

 

Marriott's love for sports was well known and so it was not lost on many that his life was being celebrated on the same day as the grand opening for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

His daughter, Lavinia McClure, recalled that he always looked forward to the Olympics, English Premier League and other sporting events. "Daddy's love for sports was not ordinary," said McClure.

She noted that her father was a democratic socialist, a mathematical genius, and a man who some might have considered to be weird.

Fellow playwright and journalist Barbara Gloudon agreed that some might have considered Marriott eccentric, but said that was partly because he was a man who knew what he wanted.

"He refused to accept any prize for his work, because he said not many people were capable of telling him what it should be and where it should go. So to some people, he might have been regarded as eccentric, but it's not that, he was a person with a particular capacity to do what he thought was all right for him," said Gloudon.

For broadcaster and actress Fae Ellington, Marriott was passionate about getting things right.

"As a playwright, Louis told stories, developed characters and wrote dialogue and social commentary with the precision of a mathematician, the understanding of a historian and the careful, steady attention of a neurosurgeon," said Ellington.

 

GENEROUS TO A FAULT

 

"He was generous to a fault. He treated all who worked for him professionally and fairly. In at least one production that I am aware of, Louis advised that once he had broken even, we would all share in the profits. That was the mettle of the man," added Ellington.

Marriott was the author of several plays, but the most notable of them is Bedward, which was staged first as Shepherd in 1960.

He has also been credited for honing the talents of several of Jamaica's contemporary actors and actresses.

"I have very special and fond memories of Louis because he was the one who put me on stage for the very first time in 1981 while still a schoolboy at Jamaica College," said actor Glen 'Titus' Campbell.

"He saw something in me and put me on stage for the very first time, and so I started my career with him," added Campbell.

Marriott died on Emancipation Day at age 81 after ailing for some time.

nadine.wilson@gleanerjm.com