Special moments are best shared
Christopher Daley said that in For Better or Worse there is no room to escape the drama, as the catastrophe happens in the opening scene ("we split"). His character is also determined not to be the stereotypical tough guy - very far from it.
"He is a sops," said Daley. "That is part of accepting who you are playing. In Jamaican terms, he is a sops. I have met Alfreds, men who are not big on the physical and would rather take on the suffering, the domestic role, do some hustling on the road. He will run up and down with the children."
However, Daley pointed out that he does not play the sops, "I play him in totality". And he pointed out that "when you see him angry and passionate, is about him kids. The only time he defends himself personally is when the woman (his estranged wife, played by Sakina Deer) comes into his space". This happens at the point where Alfred is turning his life around and Daley said the character "has a nice arch. He is downtrodden, beaten up, then he rises. Alfred rises above what is the norm. He took the weaker road, but for a reason that is so powerful and strong that he is not weaker".
The Sunday Gleaner asked Daley if he cried at any point during rehearsal. "There was a breakthrough moment for me," he replied. "It did not happen until I got into the theatre, leading into the last week of rehearsal." It came in the scene in which Alfred finally defends himself. "I lost it," Daley said. "I had to come off the stage. The rehearsal took a break. I called Basil after. He got the brunt of it. I asked him why he had to write characters like that, bring me to tears in front of my cast members."
It was a cuss-out for a job very well done and Daley said that in each scene, Dawkins provides moments that he really enjoys doing. "Each scene has such purpose," he said. "Whenever we hit that moment it seems like something explodes. You hit the moment and the audience is with you."
One comes with Salmon where she tells him to "rise above", that he is too "tight up". He releases himself, then she looks into his eyes and delivers the line. Then, with Deer, it is a moment when he holds her and she stops, this at the point where Alfred changes from his 'sops' attitude. With Ruth HoShing, the moment comes when he barges into her office and she literally stops him in mid-speech as he is getting louder. She is letting him know that she is as much a man as he is and the boss of the office.
Daley said the Best Actor award "caps off a lot of moments with the cast. Them things mean the most to me when the atmosphere says it's a team effort. We rehearsed every day going into the show, but it did not feel like work. It was flowing like water."
Daley received an Actor Boy nomination in his first production, a drama - The Night Box with Alwyn Bully - when he was still in high school. He also won Best Actor in a Supporting Role twice. When he was named Best Actor in a Lead Role, Daley said, "I felt it was a graduation. I felt that 'finally', after working hard at many roles with moments of seriousness - Patrick Brown is great at working some seriousness into the comedy".
No longer a 'sixth man'
Having won previously for supporting roles, Daley said at times he has felt like that great sixth man on a basketball team, the person who comes in and gives the team that lift, especially in a tight situation. Now, to be put in the position of being the best man, "it is wonderful. You have that accolade. You worked for it".
However, he pointed out that "It doesn't mean you will (always) see me in a dramatic role and I won't do comedies. People will know that when my name is called it will be something of a particular standard. I take my performances very seriously. This award is for work put in, not only in For Better or Worse but over time."
"It is nice to be judged among your peers," Daley said. And he adds, "I have enjoyed a variety of roles over the years and that makes it more exciting".
With the production running the rest of April, Daley said "all things going well, we should be giving the people of South Florida a taste of For Better or Worse".