Desmond Dennis looks forward to 10th year in commercial theatre
Award-winning actor Desmond Dennis has landed his next major role in Anancy & Pinocchio, joining some of Jamaica’s seasoned veterans in the play, which is directed by Patrick Brown, co-owner of Jambiz International Limited.
Ushering in his tenth year in commercial theatre locally in 2023, the actor has been in a reflective mood. “I’m not sure how persons generally do it [celebrate a milestone year in their career], but as it approaches, I’ve been looking closer at my journey … where I started and where it is taking me … using the time for reflection,” Dennis told The Sunday Gleaner.
He added: “The opportunity to be part of a new production comes at the appointed time because while I have worked with most directors in the space, I have never had a chance to work with Patrick Brown. I’m delighted to be among such stalwarts and crowd favourites as Glen ‘Titus’ Campbell, Courtney Wilson, and Sharee Elise, players I’ve never had a pleasure of sharing a stage with prior to now.”
Dennis won his first Actor Boy Award for Best Actor in a Lead Role in 2018. He played one of the lead roles in Heist, a commercial debut comedy for director Maya Wilkinson. He was previously nominated in the category of Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Garvey, Same Difference and for Ol’ Fyah Stick.
The actor is the associate creative director at Apeiron Digital, but when he received the call to audition for the play, he answered, and he is now one of two actors alternating in the role of Pinocchio. The other is Kadeem ‘Kenzic’ Wilson. The curtains were raised for Anancy & Pinocchio on December 30 at the Courtleigh Auditorium following nearly six weeks of rehearsals.
“It feels like everything has come full circle since the period of auditions. It’s been … genuinely, a tough time, just how many details go into bringing a show from paper to stage and for me because I work full time,” he said. “A year ago, I would have been a thespian full time, but now I have had to balance. One of things I believe we have all had to navigate is work time with ‘play’ time (laughs), but outside of that, the process has been lovely, and the Jambiz family is very professional and accommodating to us newbies. It also warms my heart to be doing yet another production with emerging actress Quera South and my theatre brother Kenzic.”
The University Dramatic Arts Society (UDAS), QUILT, the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, and DMH Productions, headed by Dahlia Harris, have served as launch pads for Dennis over the past decade. He noted that “they are constants in my journey and have played a crucial role in my growth”. He has been exploring other platforms to further his acting career and build his foundation as a professional in the space.
Earlier this year, Dennis invited the public into his personal space by reaching out for assistance to make his dream of attending the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) a reality. He was one of six persons worldwide to be accepted into the prestigious school for a Master of Arts degree in directing for September but was unable to attend.
He shared, “I’m grateful knowing that after creating a GoFundMe, persons donated and one person in particular made a significant contribution through the platform, which allowed me to secure my space for September 2023.”
The actor said that receiving the role in the play is also making the path to pursue the degree “a little straighter” and that all that is needed is for him to acquire the remainder of the funds and necessary documents. Anancy & Pinocchio will run until March 30, after which Dennis will be shifting gears to travel and study overseas.
“There’s much in store for next year, and I continue to reflect on the journey and look forward to the next leg of the journey. The audience is definitely in for a treat – you see Patrick Brown, you see JamBiz. It’s a show that is packed with laughs, has a few serious moments, and connects people. A long time me nuh touch stage, enuh, so I just want persons to come out and support as we continue to brings laughs to the entire family,” Dennis said.