For the Reckord | Dramatic flexibility impresses at Edna Manley
Last Wednesday at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, drama student Neil Waithe staged his one-man show, Man Child, which primarily asks the question, How does a boy know he is a man? The main characters are childhood friends Tony and Dari, who come from different socio-economic backgrounds but share the desire to escape the restrictions placed on them as boys. Waite shows them growing physically, morally and emotionally in an environment where, as he put it, "many of the valued norms ... have detrimental effects on the males within our society".
Faithy Lynch, who performed the following evening, wrote in her printed programme that she went to the School of Drama to be trained as a teacher. Instead, the school has turned her into "a director, a playwright, an actress and, most importantly, an artiste". She didn't sound unhappy with the change of direction, and certainly, her production, which involves work in all three areas, was well received. Her theme was the misdiagnosis of mental illness in Jamaica.
On Friday, it was Chadrick Barnes' turn to stage his show in the Drama School's Dennis Scott Studio Theatre. The piece, In the Name of the Father, was inspired by Scott's play, An Echo In the Bone and, like that play, involves ritual and spirit possession. The name is quite clever as the production is about three father-son relationships - God and Jesus, the father and son in An Echo in the Bone, and the (absent) father and son in Barnes' play. The son, Alex, spends much of the play searching for his father, but his search is really broader - a "theatrical and dramatic exploration of the existing social constructs of religion, culture and belief in our society".
All three presentations have important themes, and while post-production opinions I heard varied on the insight shown by the playwrights about those themes, everybody was impressed with the physical energy and agility of the performers and the abundance of theatrical elements they used.