Mon | Jul 25, 2016

Ward Theatre turns 100 -

Published:Tuesday | December 18, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Ruth Hoshing (left), actress, Louis Marriott (centre), playwright and producer; and Francis Kennedy, chairman of the Ward Theatre Foundation, cut the birthday cake.
Students from the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts perform a dance outside the Ward Theatre that celebrated its 100th anniversary in downtown Kingston on Sunday. The celebrations were put on by the Ward Theatre Foundation.
Members of the East Queen Baptist Church participate in the birthday celebration.
Ward Theatre, downtown Kingston.-photos by Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer

Not-so-happy birthday for imposing  facility in need of renovation

Arthur Hall, Senior News Editor

THE GRANDE dame of downtown Kingston celebrated her 100th birthday on Sunday with a party befitting her elegance.

With a wonderful cake and outstanding performers, the Ward Theatre marked 100 years since it was donated to the people of Jamaica by the former Custos of Kingston Colonel C.J. Ward, who spent what was then a small fortune of £12,000 to build the imposing structure.

But even in the merriment, the sad state of the national treasure could not be ignored.

"I plead with you to get the Ward back in a position that people may come here and do what they do best, which is to enjoy the arts and culture," said renowned journalist and playwright Barbara Gloudon.

"The situation with the Ward in this condition is clearly not fair; it cannot continue," added Gloudon, who heads the Little Theatre Movement.

The Ward Theatre opened in December 1912 and is often described as unmatched in its architectural elegance and near-perfect acoustical construction.

It is the largest theatre in the English-speaking Caribbean and although there are other facilities locally for the performing arts, there is nothing to compare to the Ward.

The Ward Theatre Foundation has embarked on an ambitious programme to make the theatre a multi-purpose facility, but it is costing millions to do the renovation.