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Peppaz ready to profit from passion

Published:Saturday | April 7, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Leroy Campbell (left) and Clinton McKoy, founder of Peppaz are the drummers in the group.- PHOTOS BY KAREN SUDU
A painting of Marcus Garvey done by Clinton McKoy.
Peppaz rehearsing a scene from 'Careliss Mama'. (From left): Tracy-Ann Mannings, Jody-Ann Mannings, Tenneshia Gayle-Lawrence, Robert Green, and Vassell Davidson.

Karen Sudu, Gleaner Writer

BOG WALK, St Catherine:IT WAS while a student at Ham Walk Primary School in north east St Catherine, during the late 1960s, that Clinton 'Clevie' Mckoy developed a love for the performing arts.

However, it wasn't until more than three decades later that he was able to act on that passion.

"We formed a youth club in Golden Grove where I was living, and the youth dem did need something to occupy dem time, so I start Ray of Light drama group," he told The Gleaner.

McKoy later relocated to Bog Walk, and in 1997, was instrumental in the formation of the Natural Vibes drama group based in Spanish Town.

"We worked with the Ministry of Health's STI/HIV programme, and our performance was mainly to educate the people about HIV and other diseases," he explained.

a 'hot' group

However, when the contract with the ministry ended, his passion for the field inspired the multi-talented dreadlock to form the Peppaz drama group in 2004.

"Well, Peppaz means hot. We are a hot group. We do drama, we do drumming, we do Kumina dance. We entertain and educate about different things like family life, drug awareness, and so on. We perform at different events such as the Linstead Ackee Festival and school functions," he said.

Now, he wants to take Peppaz to a higher level and has embarked on a project to create employment opportunities for its members.

"I am trying to provide jobs for ourselves. We want to earn from our performance," he noted.

The visionary, who also had a nine-month stint with the ASHE Performing Arts Company, points out that the absence of a manager has hampered his group's progress.

"The main problem with Peppaz right now is a manager to book shows for us and give us the opportunity to show Jamaica what we can do. We have a number of plays, but we need help to stage them," explained McKoy.

upcoming fun day

Notwithstanding, Peppaz has joined forces with Harkers Hall Basic School to stage a fun day, concert, and dance at the Harkers Hall playing field on Easter Monday, April 9, starting at 10 a.m.

While the event has created an avenue to showcase the group's talent, part proceeds will be used to renovate the school. One of the plays the group will perform is Careliss Mama.

"It's about a mother who left her child unprotected to go dance and she was raped. We showing the parents that when you leave the kids unprotected, they open themselves to danger, including possible rape ... anything can happen to them," said McKoy.

Tenneshia Gayle-Lawrence, a member for more than five years, plays the lead role in Careliss Mama.

"I love drama and I am glad for the opportunity to be in Peppaz and to be able, through my characters in the different plays, to educate the people. I would love to see the group grow and get the opportunity to perform all over Jamaica," Gayle-Lawrence told The Gleaner.

Nineteen-year-old Anieka Brown, a graduate of Bog Walk High School, has been a member of the group for one year. She plays the role of Mary, the daughter, in Careliss Mama.

"Being a member of Peppaz has allowed me to be more open with persons and get exposed, interact with other persons, and learn more about society," Brown, an aspiring art teacher, shared with The Gleaner.

McKoy, who also does painting and designs craft items such as earrings, necklaces, and bracelets from shells, bamboo and other materials, is anxious to profit from his passion.