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Making theatre that much more

Published:Sunday | April 1, 2012 | 12:00 AM

In acknowledgement of International World Theatre Day observed on March 27, a symposium was held at the Dennis Scott Studio Theatre (EMC) on the topic 'From the Periphery to Centre: Jamaican Theatre at 50'.

The event was moderated by Dorothy Cunningham - president, International Theatre Institute Dramatic Theatre Committee. Panelists were: Katrine Smith - director and business development consultant EMC; Eugene Williams - principal, School of Drama (EMC); Karl Williams - actor/playwright/director and adjunct professor, Borough of Manhattan Community College; Scarlett Beharie - president, Jamaica Association of Dramatic Artistes, and Aston Cooke, playwright.

Eugene Williams charted the history of the development of the School of Drama within the context of defining its role in the development of Jamaican Theatre.

need for documentation

Smith spoke to the need to understand and document the contribution of the creative industries as a feasible development option.

Karl Williams spoke to the need for opportunities for actors to become more visible, particularly with regard to work in their field, to the importance of mentorship within the industry, and the need for the industry to publish new works.

Cooke looked at the importance of redefining what is 'centre' and the need for practitioners to expand their markets and focus by looking to alternative ways of producing and creating work outside of the traditionally defined 'theatre space', especially in relation to the power of new media opportunities.

Beharie spoke to the need for the industry to agree on a collective vision that can best represents the needs and motivations of players in the industry, and identified Jamaica Association of Dramatic Artists as that body to harness and represent theatre practitioners and to lobby on their behalf to place the industry in the centre of the creative and entertainment sectors.

The formal presentations were followed by a lively discussion that echoed the need for unity, diversity, training and more opportunities for employment and creative expressions, underlined by the need for creative spaces.