Profile: Craig Pinder


Othello and Desdemona embrace.

Craig Pinder (right) as Othello in Yellowtail’s 2011 adaptation of Shakespeare’s play. (photo courtesy of Yellowtail)

How long have you been involved in theatre?

For thirty years, as a professional actor.

What inspired you to get involved?

At school, (QC), I was always keen to take part in the plays put on there, or indeed take part in any activity that involved playing characters, singing etc. My Dad (Bill Pinder) was an actor and very active in the Operatic Society in Nassau. I took part in a couple of his productions at age eight or nine, and got the acting bug quite early on.

In what capacity have you participated in theatre? (actor, writer, director, stage manager, lights, sound etc)

Mainly as an actor, although I have directed a few productions also.

Can you list the stage productions that you have participated in over the years?

2011, Othello, Othello, Nuffield Theatre Southampton, dir. Robin Belfield

2010, John, The Subject Was Roses, English Theatre of Hamburg, dir. Jenny Lee

2009, Prospero, THE TEMPEST, Shakespeare in Paradise, Nassau, dir. Patti Anne-Ali/Craig Pinder

2009, Woodcutter, Rashoman, RADA, dir. MinJae Kang

2008, Cecil B. DeMille, Sunset Boulevard, ATG, dir. Craig Revel Horwood

2008, Stage, Gurney, When Is A Door Not A Door, Central School of Speech and Drama , dir. Geoffrey Colman

2005, Hyram/Elder/Paypal, Micro Musicals, Stephen Joseph Theatre, dir.  Laurie Sansom

2004, Rev Shaw-Moore/Principal , Footloose, UK Tour, dir. Paul Kerryson

2003, James Monahan, The Ballad Of Little Jo, Bridewell Theatre, dir. Carol Metcalf

2002, Sweeney Todd, Sweeney Todd, New Vic Theatre, dir. Chris Monks

2001, Tristram, Taking Steps, Mount Holyoke Summer Theater, dir. Susan Daniels

2000, Harry, Mamma Mia, West End, dir. Phyllida Lloyd

1999, The Marshall, Babydoll, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, dir. Lucy Bailey

1999, Calvin/Fielding/Lt.Waters/Devries, Life During Wartime, Lyric Studio, dir. Toby Reisz

1998, McBurney, Not About Nightingales, Alley Theater, Houston, dir. Trevor Nunn

1998, McBurney, Not About Nightingales, Royal National Theatre, dir. Trevor Nunn

1998, Karl, Popcorn, National Tour, dir. Lawrence Boswell

1997, Parson, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside, Shakespeare’s Globe, dir. Malcolm McKay

1997, Macmorris / Rambures, Henry V, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, dir. Richard Olivier

1996, Sheldrake, Sunset Boulevard, Really Useful Group, dir. Trevor Nunn

1995, Rommel, Hands Up (For You The War Has Ended), New Vic Theatre, dir. Peter Cheeseman

1995, Banquo, Macbeth, Greenwich Theatre, dir. Mark Rylance

1995, The Mikado, The Mikado, New Vic Theatre, dir. Chris Monks

1994, Booth, Assassins, Manchester Library Theatre, dir. Roger Haines

1994, Capulet, Romeo & Juliet, Stephen Joseph Theatre, dir. Stephen Hirst

1994, Sir Toby Belch, Twelfth Night, Eye Theatre, dir. Tom Watson

1993, Frank, All My Sons, Palace Theatre, Watford, dir. Lou Stein

1993, Merchant / Practice, Comedy Of Errors/Little Murders, Royal Exchange, dir. Gregory Hersov

1993, Graham, Talking Heads (A Chip in the Sugar), Eye Theatre, dir. Tom Watson

1993, Cenci, The Cenci, Dead Poets, Lyric Studio, dir. Sydnee Blake

1992, Bobby, Company, Northcott Theatre, Exeter, dir. John Durnin

1992, Eric Bogosian Monologues, Drinking in America, Royal Exchange, dir. Chris Monks / Allan Pollock

1992, Prince/Louis, Romeo and Juliet / A View From The Bridge, Royal Exchange , dir. Gregory Hersov

1991, Shem, Children Of Eden, Prince Edward Theatre, dir. John Caird

1990, Rona Anderson/Shevardnadze, Moscow Gold, Royal Shakespeare Company, dir. Barry Kyle

1989, Amiens, As You Like It, Royal Shakespeare Company, dir. John Caird

1989, Miller/Curbishley, Singer, Royal Shakespeare Company, dir. Terry Hands

1989, Doctor/Madman, The Duchess Of Malfi, Royal Shakespeare Company, dir. Bill Alexander

1987, Lambert Le Roux, Pravda, Swan Theatre Worcester, dir. John Ginman

1985, Jean Valjean/Bishop/Bamatabois/Ensemble, Les Miserables (Original London Cast), Royal Shakespeare Company/Cameron MacIntosh, dir. Trevor Nunn/John Caird

1984, Cubitt, Brighton Rock, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, dir. Simon Dunmore

1984, Dan / Sgt. Major, THE HIRED MAN, Leicester Haymarket / Astoria Theatre, dir. David Gilmore

1983, Sandy, A TOUCH OF SPRING, Harrogate Theatre, dir. Mark Piper

1983, Powell, FIND YOUR WAY HOME, Off-Off Broadway

1982, David Bliss U/S, HAY FEVER, Kenyon Festival Theater Ohio, dir. Ted Walsh

1982, Sampson, ROMEO AND JULIET, Kenyon Festival Theater Ohio, dir. Ted Walsh

1982, Melchior, SPRING AWAKENING, Kenyon Festival Theater Ohio, dir. Charles Newell

1982, Len, THE DWARFS, Off-Off Broadway, dir. Rob Anthony

1982, Ensemble, THE GREEKS, Hartford Stage Company, dir. Mark Lamos

1982, Moon, THE REAL INSPECTOR HOUND, Kenyon Festival Theater Ohio, dir. Charles Newell

1981, Ensemble, ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, Hartford Stage Company, dir. Mark Lamos

1981, Stephen Blackpool, HARD TIMES, Heritage Theatre, dir. Thomas Luce Summa

1981, Ensemble, KEAN, Hartford Stage Company, dir. Mark Lamos

"Ye eleves"

Pinder as Prospero in Shakespeare In Paradise’s adaptation of The Tempest.

What are some of your most memorable moments in theatre? Good and bad. Many Bahamians speak fondly of the production of Romeo and Juliet that your were in. Can you speak to that production?

I immediately enrolled in the drama society and played Romeo in my first term at Reading University in 1971. Mik Bancroft somehow got wind of this and hunted me down at the workface when their Dundas production in Nassau in 1978 required the quick insertion of a Romeo. This production was indeed very special: it was a very lovely and diversely talented group. It was when I first began to realize that I simply needed to pursue acting in some sort of serious way, and most likely attempt to make a career out of it. It was really through this production, working with Audrey Grindrod, that I gained the confidence to audition for, and get into, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London, and so start on that career course.

A high point for me at RADA was when I played Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman. (Ironically, having finally reached the right age for the part, thirty years later, I am about to play this role again quite soon!)

Playing Jean Valjean in Les Miserables in London was one of the most thrilling and challenging roles I’ve ever had the good fortune to experience.

A low point was perhaps performing in an off-off Broadway musical entitled ‘Living at the Raccoon Lodge’ (Hmm!) But I firmly believe that all experiences in theatre can teach one something, if only to try and somehow avoid making the same mistakes? And there have been many, many other high points. Each play and role presents their own set of challenges, that are almost always thrilling to undertake.

Many may not know this, but you were a Bahamian thespian first, describe some of your early years on the UK theatre scene after leaving The Bahamas.

I left the Bahamas to go to RADA in January 1979 and found it immensely exciting and fun. After leaving RADA in spring 1981, I was keen to try my luck in the acting world in New York, where I was based for two years. During that time I worked in a few theatres in and around the city (e.g. Hartford Stage, Kenyon Festival Theater etc.). However, after a couple of years I felt that I would be more at home in theatre in the UK, and so I returned. I began to get work fairly quickly in Repertory theatre in England: in 1984 I took part in a musical called ‘The Hired Man’ written by Melvin Bragg, with music composed by Howard Goodall. This musical ‘tragedy’ was really a fore-runner of the as yet unheard of musical version of Les Miserables, which opened at the RSC’s London theatre, The Barbican, in October 1985. After five auditions for this production, directed by Trevor Nunn and John Caird, based on the classic novel by Victor Hugo, I joined the company. Last October I took part in the 25th Anniversary Celebration Concert at the 02 Arena in London. Since ‘Les Miz’ in 1988, I was very fortunate to be able to take parts in many musical theatre and ‘straight’ theatre productions in and around London’s West End, over the years.

How do you feel about theatre in The Bahamas? Theatre in the UK? Theatre globally?  

Theatre in the Bahamas really seems to be having a recent resurgence of life. When I was acting in Nassau many years ago, I remember The Dundas having several diverse groups that kept the place alive. After leaving Nassau and looking at it from the outside, there seems to have been various periods and stages of ebb and flow of theatre activity over the years. An example of one of the more productive periods was during the repertory seasons run by Philip and David Burrows at the Dundas several years ago. And consistency seems to be taking root once again with fantastic events such as Shakespeare in Paradise beginning to establish themselves.

As a suggestion for moving forward, I think there should be more of an exchange internationally with theatre groups in the Bahamas. Bahamian productions should travel abroad, and international companies should visit the Bahamas. I think this inter-active practice would enable theatre in the Bahamas to really grow, remain inspired and alive, while still holding onto their Bahamian roots.

The UK theatre environment is still exciting. There is a tradition of theatre practice in this country that informs contemporary practitioners and audiences alike. That said, funding cuts and, I believe, the rise of video media etc., have had a significant impact on live theatre. Many audiences are mainly comprised of older people, with the majority of young people tending to leave live theatre off their popular culture menu entirely. Even so, there exist in the UK many inspiring youth theatre groups that work tirelessly towards helping to create actors and audiences of the future. Many schools invite touring companies into their school environment with the hope that students will become inspired and help to make up the future theatre fabric. Of course one of the considerations for audiences attending performances is ticket prices, which can be prohibitive, especially in London. So you do tend to get a situation where only the well-off can afford to go to the theatre, in spite of subsidies to try to prevent this. So there tends to be a class barrier when it comes to theatre-going in the UK, where a lot of people at the lower end of the income scale will not attend theatre on a regular basis, if ever at all.

In terms of comparisons of style and as a broad generalization, theatre in the UK probably tends to be more verbal and less physical than it is, say, with its European neighbours. Many American actors gravitate towards the London stage, which for example, is given testament by Kevin Spacey, who has been Artistic Director at London’s Old Vic Theatre for several years now.

Perhaps the attractiveness of performing in London to Americans is the sense of integral kudos they get from it, combined with a ‘right to fail’, which doesn’t really exist on Broadway, and is imperative for progressive theatre practice.

Global theatre provides an eclectic smorgasbord of different theatre styles. The essential rudiments of human behaviour can often resonate with the observer more effectively when viewed through a specific cultural prism; i.e. fundamental ‘truths’ concerning the human condition can often become more clear when behaviour is expressed through the various cultural languages of the body. To give an example of the celebration of global theatre, in the UK next year the Royal Shakespeare Company is presenting a World Festival of Shakespeare Plays, which will involve participation from many different countries performing in their native languages. Relating this to theatre in the Bahamas, and as mentioned above, I passionately believe that inter-active international exchange would be an invigorating catalyst that would inspire the future development of a profound Bahamian theatre.

What do you do to prepare for a part? 

I believe, and I’m sure most writers would agree, that the TEXT is King. In the beginning was the word… Not all theatre practitioners would follow this rule, many believe that ‘behaviour’ is more important, and I would agree that behaviour forms the essence of good acting. But, the text is the ‘blue-print’ of the play, and it is the written evidence, the manifestation of ‘behaviour’ left by the playwright, the creator of the whole world of the play: It tells you what happens in the play. Eminent theatre practitioner Sanford Meisner said that ‘an ounce of behaviour is worth a pound of words’. But…that pound of words gives you the clues to what that ounce of behaviour might be… so, ignore the text at your peril, I say.

All plays are different; all actors are different, as are all directors, designers, groups of actors etc. So there really is no definitive approach to preparing for a play or a part. I believe also that the various approaches should evolve constantly, never forgetting the main remits of the theatre practitioner such as ‘holding the mirror up to nature’ or ‘making the invisible visible’ etc. Here I will outline a general approach of my own, that may vary and shouldn’t necessarily be followed like a chef’s menu. Improvise and make your own process, but it often helps to know some of the ‘rules’ and what works for other people.

Most actors will probably tend to look at their own lines first, it’s a natural reaction when receiving a new script – you want to see what your involvement with it will be. Once skipping through this vanity stage, I read the whole play, and begin to build up a picture of the ‘world of the play’. I re-read the play, and repeat until I understand what is going on in the play. I scour the script for clues. I find out about anything I don’t understand, and gradually build up a specific idea of what is being said by the playwright through all of the characters. Then gradually and more specifically, I begin to focus on my character. I go through the play and see the world of the play ‘in terms of my character’. I underline things that ring out that are relevant to my character, and picture images in my mind created by the language and situations in the play, again, particularly from my character’s point of view. If I am playing a specific part, this is how I will be viewing the world, but I also need to get a sense of the whole world of the play and put my character into this context. So, all the time I’m balancing how my part fits into this whole. I try to remember that the lines are only what the character says, and not how or why they say them, and that there is much behaviour that will be unspoken.

The choices and a balance of different acting techniques will also depend on how much time we have to rehearse. In Shakespeare, adherence to the clues given in the TEXT becomes paramount…it’s all in there. In modern, perhaps more ‘naturalistic’ plays, Meisner techniques which e.g. places your attention onto your acting partner rather than yourself, is useful for getting rid of self-consciousness and achieving a balanced and believable emotional tension in scenes. Also for emotional scenes, using Stanislavski/Strasberg emotional memory techniques can be very effective but need to be carefully monitored by actor and director to avoid dangerous emotional side-effects. Michael Chekov’s use of the imagination can be a very powerful source of invention and communication. I try to find ways of getting my character’s text into my acting body. To begin to do this effectively I need to allow my body to be relaxed, i.e. tension must be avoided at all costs (it is the enemy of the actor!) I use, and focus on my breath – it is my main source of energy for speaking and moving. I work on my voice and body…both of them must be free and relaxed if I am to create a character that will resonate on stage and have an effective impact on the souls of the audience.

I immerse myself in all of this and allow the character, through this information, my relative experience and my imagination etc., to take me over. I imagine myself in that character’s shoes, both physically and metaphorically.

I try to get on top of, and learn the text as quickly as possible. However, for me this can a bit of a ‘cart before the horse situation’ sometimes i.e. I like to know a bit about what and why I’m saying things before rigorously trying to learn the lines, but very often there just isn’t the rehearsal time that allows this indulgence…so then must just get on with it!

When preparing to go into performance: I try to Relax: Breathe: Radiate: I develop a sense of fun and play. Because after all, that’s what it is… a play!

Any advice for those who want to get involved in theatre in any capacity?

The first question I always ask a prospective actor who is thinking of going into the profession: Do you NEED to act? I.e. this need must be stronger than just casually wanting to do it, I think. There is a constant inner conflict going on with an actor: Effective acting requires that you are relaxed and open. On the other hand, with the strong need to succeed, when combined with the physical, emotional and mental demands required of an actor, you can quite easily tend to become fraught, tense and closed. It is a trap. If ways of solving this conflict cannot be developed to prevent the actor falling into this trap, then it will be difficult to achieve any sustainable success on stage. Added to these problems, as the hurdles of banality of ‘the business’ invariably present themselves at the various points along your career path, you may very well decide not to follow the folly of such a precarious profession.

However, if, once you’ve decided that a career ‘on the boards’ is the only route for you, then you must resolve be forever self–disciplined. By all means seek help: get some coaching; do some voice work; stay fit; go to a good drama school; get psychologically prepared for rejection and hard knocks and develop ways to bounce back quickly; develop networking skills for the business of acting; As Hamlet says: ‘The readiness is all’.  Without these skills it will become very hard and probably deemed untenable. But through all of this… enjoy it! Acting is fun, and it really needs to be I think, for you and so for your audience.

I’m not very qualified to talk in any detail about other aspects of theatre, but based on what I’ve observed I would say the following:

A Director: is likely to be someone who needs to throw a party (as opposed to an Actor, who just needs to GO to a party!) but would rather have someone else pick up the bill (the Producer!)

I would say you need strong organizational skills. You’re the person that makes the final decisions about things that are to go on stage. I don’t think that a desire to be over controlling is necessarily good for the well-being of a production. I think the best directors trust their actors to experiment enough to find the inner life of their characters. The more help given to the actor that allows them to get the best out of themselves, the better for the whole production really. Directors should really love actors, and have the ability to gently persuade them towards their way of thinking, while making the actors believe in the value of their own contributions.

A Stage Manager: should probably have a strong desire to keep some sort of order in a world that is often illogical and chaotic! You need to be very tolerant of directors and actors…you tend to be the one who sets up, serves and clears up after the party. Again, even though you may be a very different mind-set from your actors, you should also care for them.

A Set/Costume designer: You create the atmosphere of the party. You should have a very visual, yet practical sense of how to manifest the world of the play on stage. You need to work through the text with the director and should be willing, in my opinion, to be flexible with individual actors, and include them to some degree with your design concepts.

A Lighting Designer: You also help to create the atmosphere of the party. You work with the text, through the director to create various specific and appropriate atmospheres for the different scenes of the play.

A Producer: needing to throw the party, lays on a cover charge, because he doesn’t want to pick up the bill if not too many people show up. If he’s smart he’ll actually get other people (angels) to invest, so he doesn’t end up losing his own money.

You should have a genuine love of the theatre to be really effective, I think. A firm understanding of business, and some sort of sixth sense for knowing what the public may go for certainly helps. Perhaps a smattering of mild contempt for anyone else involved who may mistakenly think themselves above their station (including actors, or even directors!) keeps you in pole position? My favourite Producer clichés are quotes from Max Bialystock in the film of The Producers: “You can’t do business without checky!” and “If ya got it baby, flaunt it!!)

Good luck!

Who were your mentors in theatre?

My first mentor was really my Dad, who was involved in the Nassau Amateur Operative Society for many years, and played many great parts to great acclaim.

At school when in my teens, English teacher Roger Kelty encouraged me to think about a career in acting after seeing and hearing me mimic Sir Laurence Oliver’s version of Henry V. At the time, I didn’t think a stage career would have ever been possible for me.

My most influential mentor, who I met when during Romeo and Juliet at the Dundas in 1978 and who helped me get to RADA, was Audrey Grindrod. She is a very gifted teacher and was a great source of inspiration to me.

At RADA, Principal Hugh Cruttwell was immensely encouraging and tirelessly supportive towards all his students. Also while at RADA, Malcolm McKay taught me to go to great depths with my acting.

Trevor Nunn is a guru to me. John Caird taught me much also.

Mark Rylance taught me many alternative ways of acting.

Mary Hammond really helped to develop my singing voice.

Sleep.

Pinder (right) and Nicole Fair (left) as Miranda in an exchange in SiP’s 2009 adaptation of The Tempest.

How do you see your future in Bahamian theatre?

Over the last few years, I have become involved with several projects in the Bahamas. I co-directed Oleanna at The Hub; I also co-directed and played Prospero in The Tempest, for the opening season of Shakespeare in Paradise. I was involved in both Bahamian films Children of God and Wind Jammers. Working at home in the Bahamas is the realization of a much desired long-term goal, and I would really welcome doing more in future. Four thousand miles of ocean and trying to run a career on the other side of it can have its logistical problems, but I don’t see why more opportunities shouldn’t present themselves in the years to come. I think there is an amazing pool of talent in the Bahamas, and I would really like to do more to facilitate that talent with realizing its full potential. Again, one way is with cross-cultural exchange. I have been recently involved with a successful Bahamian production of Othello which originated in the UK at The Nuffield Theatre, Southampton. It was directed by Yellowtale Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Robin Belfield, who is also Bahamian, and who also directed Dat Bahamian T’ing, which featured at Shakespeare in Paradise Festival’s second season. Othello has two Bahamian participants (myself and Robin), with the other two actors being black British; It has been adapted by Robin, is set in the Bahamas, and takes the title Othello or the Tragedy of Conchy Joe. We are in the process of trying to bring this production out to the Bahamas early next year. This would realize a part of my desire to help connect the theatre of the Bahamas with that of the outside world.

 

What is your favorite play?

Well there are so many… I usually try to make it the one I’m in at the time! I’m currently preparing to play Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman again after thirty years, and ironically it is probably one of my favorite plays. With the classics, it is probably Hamlet.

 

Can you speak to the assistance that the UK government gives to theatre, if any? 

In the UK there exists a government funded body called the Arts Council which subsequently provides funding for many arts institutions throughout the country, which includes theatres and productions. There are also other, more local bodies, to which arts groups can apply. The government has also encouraged corporate sponsorship over the past several years. However, compared with many countries in Europe, government subsidies of the arts in general tend to be considerably less. This is ironic, since the income generated by theatres in the UK via the tourist trade etc. is quite staggering. I think all governments should realize the value of the arts not just in terms of revenue, but also in contributing to the fabric that makes up a harmonious society.

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Profile: Dion Johnson


Caliban's monologue

Caliban (Kennedy Storr centre) quells the fears of Trinculo (D. Johnson, right) and Stephano (A. Roberts, left) in SiP's 2009, The Tempest. (photo by Peter Ramsay)

How long have you been involved in Theatre?
I’ve been involved in theatre for over thirteen years, but just like most, my acting skills were sharpened in church and school productions from a young age.

What inspired you to become involved?
From my early childhood years I enjoyed entertaining the people around me.  My father and uncle were a part of the original members of the National Youth Choir and were considered the entertainers of their time within the group. So like many children, I aspired to be like them. In addition to that, being a descendant of Cat Island, my grandmother always told me that Sir Sidney Poitier, and Tony Mackay were my cousins, I laughed, but still felt connected to the arts through them, it’s in the blood.

In what capacity (ies) do you participate in Theatre?
Primarily I participated  in the arts as a actor, but I’ve also done many works as a classical singer in different choirs. I’ve written and directed small productions for my school, and co-directed /co-produced an improv show Thoughtkatcher Presents “Da Spot”.

Can you list the productions that you have participated in over the years?
Here’s a listing of both choral and theatrical productions

Choral

Theatrical

  • Rev.- Island Fling -Rupert Missick 1998
  • LukeLife’s Choices- Gawaine Ward 2000
  • JeffThe Children’s Teeth– Dr. Nicolette Bethel, Ringplay Productions 2008
  • The WolfPeter vs. the Wolf-Mr. Justin Locke and the Bahamas National Orchestra 2008
  • SalvadorGuanahani– James Catalyn and Andrew Curry I, James Catalyn and Friends 2009
  • Summer Madness– James Catalyn and Friends 2009-2010
  • SmirnovThe Bear– written by Anton Chekov, adapted by Track Road Theatre 2009
  • TrinculoThe Tempest- William Shakespeare, Shakespeare In Paradise 2009
  • PuckA Midsummer’s Night Dream-William Shakespeare, Shakespeare In Paradise 2010
  • Assistant Producer- Da Spot– Thoughtkatcher Productions 2005-present
  • Paps/Grease Lightning/DominicanWest St Radio Soap Opera– Thoughtkatcher Productions 2010-present

What are some of your most memorable moments in Theatre?
I never had moments that I would consider a bad moment, rather learning experiences that ultimately turns into a good moment because you can laugh about it in the future. But the most memorable moments to me must be working with iconic members of the artisan community such as Claudette “Cookie” Allens, Anthony “Skeebo” Roberts, and James Catalyn to name a few and to be treated as a peer in the arts.

How do you feel about Theatre in The Bahamas? What are its weak and strong points? How active is it? How can we make it better?
Theatre in the Bahamas has been making bigger strides as I remember watching my first production in the Dundas as a little boy and returning as a freshman in college. Its strength lies within the people that have that passion to pursue excellence and present a message to the masses through the art form of theatre.

The weak point in theatre lies within the ability of society to accept all forms of the arts, be it comedy, drama, thriller, horror and the likes. If it’s not funny, most Bahamians will not go to see it, and until we can embrace all genres of the industry many shows will not see the number of patrons given to a comedy show.

Through theatre groups like Ringplay, Track Road, James Catalyn and Friends, and Thoughtkatcher, and solo ventures of Dynamite Daisy, and Michael Pintard, the arts are definitely having a positive impact on the rise of patrons for theatre, and its impact on societal responses to issues in general.

What do you do to prepare for a part?
The easiest thing for me to do in preparation for a part is to read through the script and mark my sections. However, the interaction with the other cast members is what really meshes the different sections together and that allows me to memorize both my lines and the other actors’ lines, to a point where a prompter is not necessary when I’m on stage during practice; not tooting my horn, but I like to know production from all angles and perspectives.

Any advice for those who want to get involved in Theatre in any capacity?
The easiest thing to do to get involved is to come out to various shows happening, and get to know, and introduce yourself to the directors, writers, and actors. Showing initiative is always the first step in achieving any goal no matter the age; babies learn to walk by falling down first.

Who were your mentors in Theatre?
I consider Anthony “Skeebo” Roberts to be my theatrical father, because he would have been integral in my movements both on and off the stage. Also Mr. Philip Burrows, Matthew Kelly, and James Catalyn who have been an important part of my development within the industry.

How do you see your future in Bahamian Theatre?
There is a very bright future for me in Bahamian Theatre simply because I don’t intend on sitting back and accepting the status quo. 

What is your favorite Bahamian play?
Woman Take Two is an excellent staged show that deals with how society looks at race, beliefs and social status. I also liked “You Can Lead a Horse to Water” the drama was intense.

All smiles

Matthew Wildgoose (left) and Dion Johnson (right) after a show at The Hub

In your years as an actor, have you seen the government support the arts in a tangible way?
I can plead guilty with an explanation. In 2008, I had the opportunity to travel as a representative of the theatrical community to Guyana for Carifesta. Is that venture sufficient to sustain the growth of our cultural heritage, no, but it shows initiative on their behalf.

What role, if any, should the government play in not just theatre but the arts as a whole?
I believe that the governments’ role in the arts should be one as a voice to both the private sector and the world at large. In the case of our largest industry being tourism, I believe the government should and can make it mandatory to have a Bahamian Brand show within each major hotel and resort. This can be very possible seeing that every investor has terms of agreement when entering a contract with our government.

Profile: Ian Strachan


IS

Ian Strachan in Track Road's 2001 play "The Hold Up" (photo by Derek Smith)

How long have you been involved in Theatre?
For about 20 years.  But before I was involved in “theatre” I was involved in “drama,” through church and school.  I adapted and directed and starred in a Tolstoy play when I was a teenager and performed it for church at C. W. Sawyer Primary.

What inspired you to become involved?
My mother was a playwright (though not a nationally recognized one) and I was inspired by her I believe. So I was writing short plays since Junior High.  I remember dramatizing scenes of the Bible for my Religious Knowledge Class at CH Reeves.  Scenes like “Joseph and his Coat of Many Colors.”

In what capacity(ies) do you participate in Theatre?
I have done it all.  Directing is by far the hardest.  I can write a play much more easily than direct one.  In writing I have only myself to coax, to discipline and to engage.  Once a story takes hold of me the scenes just come.  Directing is an entirely different animal.  Particularly directing in The Bahamas when you have no money to spend.

Can you list the productions that you have participated in over the years? 
I have written seven plays.
Pa and the Preacher (1990),
The Mysterious Mister Maphusa
(1990),
No Seeds in Babylon
(1991),
Fatal Passage (1992),
Black Crab’s Tragedy  (1998),
Diary of Souls (1999),
The Devil and Jacinta (2009)  (also called The Devil on the Cross).

I have directed nine plays for national audiences.  My own work:
No Seeds in Babylon.
1997,
Black Crab’s Tragedy. 1998,
Diary of Souls.
 1999,
The Devil and Jacinta, 2009
Pa and the Preacher 2010.

And the original work of other Bahamian playwrights:
Deon Simms’ Slaps (2000),
Charles Huggins’ The Hold Up (2001),
Nickeva Eve’s Island Sex (2002),
Ward Minnis’ The Cabinet (2011)
I produced Da Market Fire by Emille Hunt (2003).

What are some of your most memorable moments in Theatre? Good and bad.
Performing to three people in an auditorium in Freeport.  Definitely the low point of my theatre career.  Either that or the catastrophic opening ceremony of the CAC Games when the athletes stole my set before we actually put on our show. (The bad comes to mind more easily.)  High points: performing No Seeds in Edinburgh in 1991.  The staging of Fatal Passage (which coincided with the 1992 election and a hurricane).  Taking Diary of Souls to New Orleans and Barbados.  And restaging my first play, Pa and the Preacher in 2010.

How do you feel about Theatre in The Bahamas? What are its weak and strong points? How active is it? How can we make it better?
To make theatre stronger in this country we need: an endowed national theatre company; an equipped national theatre space; an endowed Dundas Centre; a Bachelors degree in Theatre or Performance at COB; a transparent national grant system for theatre projects; cash prizes for new plays.  These will go a long way.  Shakespeare in Paradise is a great thing.  I think also, the state should commit to funding quality recordings of theatrical productions (ones that they have helped fund through grants, for instance, or any production where the producers are willing to allow the public station broadcasting rights).  This will ensure that all Bahamians are exposed to this important form of cultural expression.  Theatre is the most socially relevant Bahamian art form; it should be experienced by as many Bahamians as possible.

Strachan as Pol in TRT's "Diary of Souls" (photo by Peter Ramsay)

What do you do to prepare for a part? 
It would take a while for me to reconstruct my process for you here. But I would say I try to guided by The Method.  The actor must believe in and be loyal to the character.  The actor must join the world of the character.  The actor must summon real lived emotions and experiences and manifest them.  Pay attention to detail.  If it feels like you’re “acting” then you are. Your actions and utterances, should feel real and authentic to you.  If they do, they will be real and authentic for your audience.   Be what you know.  If you intend to imitate, go beyond mastering the simple speech of a well known person.  Yes. you can talk or laugh like a certain public figure.  Good.  Can you cry like him?  Really cry?  Really feel scared like he would?  That takes a level of commitment and surrender of self that most are incapable of or unwilling to attempt.  I am not a great actor.  I hope  I am competent.  Perhaps one day I will take on a role that I feel is important enough to strive to be great in.  Probably not.

How do you prepare to direct a show? Are there any special challenges that you must overcome when directing in The Bahamas? 
Many who want to act do not want to study, prepare and be instructed.  They lack discipline.  I hate the fact that actors won’t take notes during practice.  You have to give them the same direction day after day. Acting is a craft and a discipline.  There is natural talent, or a natural disposition which makes it easier for you to be successful but you still need to listen to instruction, advice or critique.  Some people lack humility and are selfish.  Such people are harder to direct.  I confess I have also been my own worst enemy because I cast some people sometimes who don’t have any facility for acting the part; I do it because I want a warm body.  But truly, they cause me such grief that I’d be better off hunting for the right person.  

 The director’s job is also harder if he doesn’t have the right support; if he must be his own stage manager, his own set builder, his own producer, his own marketing man, if he must be one of the actors.    Each of these takes you one more step away from being optimally effective at directing. 

What does it take to write a play?
Your questions are unreasonable!  I’d be here for days answering this.  The dramatist must ask the question: why do I want to tell this story?  Is this the story for this time, or a story for all time?  As for that last question, both have their place. Most of all, though, what is the conflict?  Who are the contestants in the struggle?  Why should someone care who wins this particular struggle?  Are you always complicating, deepening, tightening the conflict? If not, then cut, cut, cut.  Always remember, the degree to which things are getting more and more effed up is the degree to which your audience is interested in your play.

Any advice for those who want to get involved in Theatre in any capacity?
Try out for a part.  If you don’t get a part, volunteer to work on a show in any capacity where help is needed.  Be positive, friendly, generous, and remain focused on the job at hand.  People underestimate how important concentration and focus are in theatre, whether you are on stage or off. 

Who were your mentors in Theatre?
Shakepeare. Senorita Strachan.  James Catalyn.  Winston Saunders. Philip Burrows.  Nicolette Bethel.  Wole Soyinka. Derek Walcott. Amiri Baraka.  Stanislavksi. Harold Clurman. Brecht. Artaud. Beckett.  August Wilson.

How do you see your future in Bahamian Theatre?
Every time I direct I swear it’s my last time.  So this is not a good question for a man like me.  Right now I feel like theatre is either an irresistible whore or a syphilitic prince charming.  Take your pick.

What is your favorite Bahamian play?
Horse and Father’s Day: Bahamian. Caribbean: Dream on Monkey Mountain.  African: Death and the King’s Horseman or Lion and the Jewel.  Euro-American: Chalk Circle and Threepenny Opera. Shakespeare: Tempest, Merchant, Othello.

In your years as an actor, director and writer have you seen the government support the arts in a tangible way?
I have received government support. Yes.  The government helped fund my documentary.   The government has granted me lower rates on rental facilities.  The government has supported a children’s summer drama workshop I was involved with.  They can and have helped.  They can do more also.

What role, if any, should the government play in not just theatre but the arts as a whole?
See above.

Profile: Dana J. Ferguson


Dana

Dana J. Ferguson (courtesy of danajferguson.com)

How long have you been involved in Theatre?
For as long as I can remember!

What inspired you to become involved?
My mother was a performer and did a number of projects while she was pregnant with me – I figure something rubbed off! But I decided to seriously pursue it as a career when I saw Romeo and Juliet performed live in England while on a summer school trip.  That performance changed my life and I knew it was something I had to do.

In what capacity (ies) do you participate in Theatre?
Actor, Assistant Stage Manager, Wardrobe Mistress, Set Design – and in any other way I can help out, I do!

Dana as Lizzie in "Stamping, Shouting and Singing Home" (courtesy of danajferguson.com)

Can you list the productions that you have participated in over the years?
I’ve been involved in a number of different productions.

2010,  Her (and all other Bahamian characters), DAT BAHAMIAN T’ING, Yellowtale Theatre Company, Robin Belfield
2010,  Hermia, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, Ringplay Productions, Patti-Anne Ali
2009, Ariel, THE TEMPEST, Ringplay Productions , Patti-Anne Ali & Craig Pinder
2009, Narrator, HEAVEN’S GROCERY STORE, World Methodist Conference
2008, Lizzie Walker, STAMPING, SHOUTING AND SINGING HOME, Forest Forge Theatre & Nuffield Theatre, Russ Tunney
2008, Negro Woman, Matron, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, Nuffield Theatre, Patrick Sandford
2007, Wendy, PETER PAN, Nuffield Theatre, Patrick Sandford
2007, Woman In The Green Dress (Lead)/All Bahamian Roles, THAT BAHAMIAN T’ING, Nuffield Theatre & Yellow Tale Theatre, Robin Belfield
2007,  Ariel [The Tempest], WILL AT THE WEALD, The Company Presents, Patrick Sandford
2007,  Phoebe [As You Like It], WILL AT THE WEALD, The Company Presents, Robin Belfield
2006, Woman In The Green Dress (Lead)/All Bahamian Roles, DAT BAHAMIAN T’ING, Forest Arts/Nuffield Theatre, Robin Belfield
2006, Pimple, SHE STOOPS TO CONQUERBristol Old Vic Theatre School, Chris Harris
2006, Dorinda, THE BEAUX’ STRATAGEM, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Chris Harris
2006, Lady Hunstanton, A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Bonnie Hurren
2006, Cecily Cardew, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNEST, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Bonnie Hurren
2006, Duchess Eleanor [Henvy VI], UNEASY LIES THE HEAD THAT WEARS THE CROWN, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Sonia Fraser
2005, Titania, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, David Collins
2005, Lady [The Lady and The Lion], GRIMM’S FAIRY TALES , Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Elwyn Johnson
Wendy

Peter and Wendy (courtesy of danajferguson.com)

What are some of your most memorable moments in Theatre?
A Good Memory – I once worked with a young lady who was extremely self-concious about her work, which was ludicrous because she’s really very good!  She asked me to help coach her, so I did – and when she hit the stage for opening night, she was electric.  The audience loved her and it made me feel good to know that I was able to help her make that happen.

A Bad Memory – I get really upset working with people who don’t take the job seriously.  Unless you’re a one-man show, you are part of an ensemble and are accounable to the rest of the team so you need to do your part in making the scene/show etc work.  Failure to commit to memorising lines in a timely fashion or even showing up to set on time frustrates the entire process. I once worked with a guy who sang his praises about being a committed artist and true professional – but then he came on set to shoot the scenes and was duller than dishwater!  Totally flat, lackluster performance… he couldn’t put his money where his mouth was.  Suffice it to say, he never got work with that director again.  That was a painful day on set, let me tell ya!

Hermia in love. (from left to right, Matthew Wildgoose, Dana and Nicole Fair, courtesy of danajferguson.com)

How do you feel about Theatre in The Bahamas? What are its weak and strong points? How active is it? How can we make it better?
I’d love for the cultural arts in the Bahamas to be respected and revered.  To inspire the young and young at heart.  Art should never be censored – but unfortunately, the Christian Council plays a role in regulating Bahamian art, resulting in many productions losing out on the opportunity to live, breathe and exist in spite of which social or religious faction that work  may offend.  Art should spark discussion and debate. It should be taken seriously.  The Bahamas is entrenched with deep and meaningful history that is lost on today’s youth.  The development of an arts council to aid in promoting and protecting art and the artist would go a long way in preserving and promoting Bahamian cultural arts both here and abroad.  Bahamain culture is more than Junkanoo.  It’s storytelling and photography, painting and straw work, music and dance.  It’s theatre and design, cinematic creations with Bahamian directors, actors and singers who add something to their creations that no other nationality can replicate. Instead of working together to promote Bahamian talent, we have people that deliberately put stumbling blocks in the way of young directors and actors etc in an effort to frustrate their efforts to develop our culture.  Until we learn to work together, theatre will continue to be sporadic.

What do you do to prepare for a part?
The process varies depending on the project but I always start with reading the entire script a few times.  Then I start paying attention to my character and the relationships they have with other characters in the play .  But with every play, I always return to the script – sometimes you get stuck thinking a certain way but re-reading the text will help you unravel the many layers to get to the truth.  And at the end of the day, an actor should always be truthful to the script and the character.  That makes for the best performances.

Any advice for those who want to get involved in Theatre in any capacity?
There are so many aspects of theatre that one can get involved in.  For those who are shy, some of the most important work happens behind the scenes – lights, sound, costumes, stage managing, script doctor…the list is endless.  Be punctual – Bahamian time does NOT count.  And over-communicate with your director and colleagues.

Who were your mentors in Theatre?
My mother .  She’s one of the best performers I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.

How do you see your future in Bahamian Theatre?
I’m happy to be involved as much as I possibly can for as long as I can.

What is your favorite Bahamian play?
Men Talk was pretty funny – I remember seeing it years ago with some of the women in my family and we had a grand ol’ time!  Light was also very good – it was one of the first plays I watched when I returned to Nassau from Britain.  Then there is the token go-to classics, like woman Take Two.

Her

Dana as Her in "Dat Bahamian Ting" (courtesy of danajferguson.com)

In your years as an actor, have you seen the government support the arts in a tangible way?
Yes – Junkanoo.  But that was many, MANY years in the making.  Theatre has a long way to go yet to compete with Junkanoo.

What role, if any, should the government play in not just theatre but the arts as a whole?
It would be wonderful for the government to willingly assist in establishing an independent council that could aid with financing the numerous projects floating around at the moment.  I’ve had the pleasure of reading quite a few scripts that are really very good, but without the financial backing or support, those scripts will never see the light of day.  And that would be a tragedy for Bahamina artists, because there are some truly talented people in this little country.

Profile: Erin Knowles


Reva and Erin backstage at SiP's 2010 "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (left to right, Reva Cartwright-Carroll and Erin Knowles courtesy of R.CC)

How long have you been involved in Theatre?
9 months

What inspired you to become involved?

Travis & Reva Cartwright-Carroll. They were both actively involved in theatre and encouraged me to try out some aspect of theater.

Dr. Toni Francis also convinced me to try out for Horn of Plenty, I failed on that note, but ended up the assistant director.

In what capacity (ies) do you participate in Theatre?

I have worked as an assistant director, stage assistant and sound, currently directing a short film.

Can you list the productions that you have participated in over the years?

Horn of Plenty ft Indio: Shakespeare in Paradise 2010

Midsummer Night’s Dream: Shakespeare in Paradise 2010

The Cabinet: 2011

Sigma Tau Delta Short Film: 2011

What are some of your most memorable moments in Theatre? Good and bad.

My first really bad experience occurred recently. I never realized how frustrating it could be for a cast member to be missing when the production is scheduled to begin. On two separate occasions two of the main characters showed up 15-20 minutes after the show was scheduled to begin. The frustration was unnerving and the tension was beyond bearable.

I’ve had good experiences in all of the productions I’ve worked with so far. I particularly enjoyed watching every performance that I assisted with, especially Horn of Plenty, as I was the assistant director. I felt proud of the male and female actors, they were my colleagues and responded well to Dr. Wisdom’ direction, as well as mine. 

How do you feel about Theatre in The Bahamas? What are its weak and strong points? How active is it? How can we make it better?

Theatre in The Bahamas is underappreciated. It is gradually improving as more Bahamians are becoming aware of its existence. There are more weaknesses than there are strong points at the moment. I’m fairly new to the scene, but I realize that the competition between the few playwrights tend to disadvantage them, as well as the Bahamian people. When I say that, I make reference to the lack of communication between members of the world of theatre. With so little opportunities for staging a play, other than a festival like SIP, I believe it is pointless having five different productions going on at the same time. Who really benefits? There is no strategic plan for staging plays. Communication is non-existent; no one volunteers information that can prove beneficial to all. The populations of The Bahamas is less than 400,000, and by no means do they all support theatre, with the little support garnered from the public, I think productions should be staged in consideration/support of other playwrights as well as in consideration of the audience.

With my view on the weaknesses out of the way, I think playwrights should be commended for the continuous effort exerted in theatre. In an attempt to keep it alive and develop interest in it, we are privy to productions like “Woman Take Two”, “Not my Good Child” “Pa and the Preacher”, “The Cabinet” and many others. I believe the strongest point, and one that continues to develop, is the interest in unveiling the nuances of politics in Bahamian society. This I believe is beneficial and timely.

What does it take to be a stage manager/assistant to the director?

It takes time, effort and a willingness to learn. I learned, as assistant to Dr. Wisdom, it’s not so much telling the actors what it is they need to do, but making them comfortable enough to want to do something differently. Being a stage assistant to Reva Cartwright-Carroll also taught me the importance of taking the initiative, regardless of your assignment backstage, it’s important to remain focus and look for avenues to offer assistance.

Any advice for those who want to get involved in Theatre in any capacity?

Theatre is not simply about acting, there are so many capacities available; finding what suits you will be the only task. I haven’t found my calling in theatre yet but through searching I’ve gained valuable experience in sound, directing and being a stage assistant, I’ve even dabbled in make-up. Taking an interest is the first step, volunteering is second, allowing theatre to embrace you is the final step and there you will be subject to possibilities.

Who were your mentors in Theatre?

Reva Cartwright-Carroll; Dr. Toni Francis

How do you see your future in Bahamian Theatre?

Good question. It is my ultimate goal to be a teacher, but I will offer assistance in any capacity if needed. I’m also determined to reach out for further opportunities to gain experience that will be useful in my classroom. 

What is your favorite Bahamian play?

“Diary of Souls”

In your years as a member of theatre, have you seen the government support the arts in a tangible way?

NOT AT ALL! For the short period of time I’ve been around, the only support I’ve noticed is the few politicians that turn out to see the production.

What role, if any, should the government play in not just theatre but the arts as a whole?

Beginning in the schools, it is important for students to focus on art in its entirety; it should not merely be about junkanoo. Students are ignorant to theatre; they are underestimated and considered too dumb to read Shakespeare or “Diary of Souls”, there is a need for elevation of the Bahamian students, through theatre, they can be raised from the slump they are in and given the necessary tools to garner an appreciation for art in its whole!

The support from the government can also come in the form of respect for theatre. 

Profile: Nicole Fair


Nicole and Craig

Nicole as Miranda and Craig Pinder as Prospero in SiP's 2009 "The Tempest" (courtesy of Rachael Whitehouse)

How long have you been involved in Theatre?

For 14 years but with a break of five years (when I was birthin’ and nursin’ mah chirren).

What inspired you to become involved? 

I tried out for Stella in “A Streetcar Named Desire” (by Tennessee Williams) at university and got the role.  I was hooked after that!

In what capacity (ies) do you participate in Theatre?

As an actor, writer, director and dramatic arts instructor. 

Can you list the productions that you have participated in over the years?

Local:  The Most Massive Woman Wins (Dr. Fritz/Maria, Cel, telephone operators & other characters); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Helena); The Tempest (Miranda); Bahamian Macbeth (Ross); Death of Silence (Maritsa); Branch of the Blue Nile (Marylin)

Abroad: Pinocchio (Pinocchio); Erin/Jester (The Dark Castle); Sam/Gino/Teacher (Jeremy Snow); LAMDA: The Cherry Orchard (Varya); Duchess of Malfi (Duchess); The Country Wife (Dainty Fidget); Antony & Cleopatra (Cleopatra).  University: Romeo & Juliet (the Nurse); A Streetcar Named Desire (Stella)

What are some of your most memorable moments in Theatre?

When doing Restoration Comedy at drama school we had to self-direct a few scenes (our director had fallen ill) and one of them was an 18th century version of a verbal cat fight and the rhythm of the lines (like a ball being thrown backwards and forwards) was so spot on that the audience erupted in spontaneous applause in the middle of the scene.  Hadn’t happened to me before and hasn’t happened since.  It was some kind of magic! 

When I was directing a school play, I ended up doing it all – filling in for a no-show actor, doing lights, sound, not to mention all the rehearsals and admin prior to the show.  I realized then and there that a reliable team is essential when it comes to putting on a production. 

When the lights went out during the middle of The Tempest and we all pulled together – breaking out flashlights from our cars; the actors carried on without missing a beat and the audience were breathless.   Again it was all about teamwork – from both the backstage crew, the actors onstage and backstage and the audience themselves – and it worked!

How do you feel about Theatre in The Bahamas? What are its weak and strong points? How active is it? How can we make it better?

With the advent of Ringplay Productions’ Shakespeare in Paradise I think this marks a real turning point in the evolution of theatre in the Bahamas.  I believe that theatre is reawakening in the Bahamas after a decade or more of slumber.  Strong points: we have a lot of talent for a small country and we are starting to gather together into small groups which means more organisation and efficiency.  Weak points: we lack training – I’d like to see this addressed through more workshops; we lack a professional base ie those participants in theatre who are recognised as professionals and are remunerated adequately for their jobs.  Seeing performance art as a job means that the theatre arts will be taken more seriously by both audience members, sponsors and theatre participants. 

What do you do to prepare for a part? 

Well, read the play first off, highlight my lines.  For classical theatre there is more research involved as the meanings of the lines are deeper and not as superficial as modern plays.  For Shakespeare I use the iambic pentameter beats method ie the idea that English (especially Shakespearean English) has a rhythm of short/long/short/long repeating – 5 pairs of short/long for each line.  For monologues the ‘telegram’ method can be very helpful.  Also, I think about the character’s intentions in each scene and build a story in my head of the character’s life (even and especially those parts that are not in the actual play).  Breathwork is necessary as it informs changes of mood and thought and determines the emotional life of the character.  Bodywork and posture are also extremely important when portraying a character.  Living with the lines is important – that is going over them daily as the time for performance nears. 

Nicole

Nicole at SiP 2009 Festival Bar

Any advice for those who want to get involved in Theatre in any capacity?

Contact Ringplay Productions, Track Road Theatre, Peacock Theatre Company or any other theatre companies you know of and volunteer to see how you like it and to discover what areas you like most.  Do you want the limelight?  Then acting is for you.  Do you prefer to be behind the scenes – a part of the camaraderie and preparation, ensuring the show runs smoothly?  Are you technical?  Then lighting and sound might be your forte.  One thing I can say about theatre – it takes all kinds – so there is always something for everyone no matter what their talent. 

Who were your mentors in Theatre?

Tamara Harvey and John Link – my first directors at university and at drama school.  They were very encouraging of me and extremely professional. 

How do you see your future in Bahamian Theatre?

I hope to continue to stretch myself as an actor – Most Massive Woman Wins was the first time I’d ever done any modern comedy or written any for that matter.  I’d like to do more collaborative writing as Jules Carey and I did for our piece Every Woman.  The process was very organic, with us changing our lines in every rehearsal (almost up until we opened) to suit the character, the flow.  Changing all the time was part of the process – a combination of learned lines and improvisation.  It’s scary but it tests your skills as an actor.  I see myself taking more risks as an actor.  Most Massive Woman Wins was a brave step in terms of its subject matter and the way it was portrayed – it could be offensive to some and funny to others but on the other hand it could also make people think – and I think not stretching my boundaries creatively  – playing it safe – would be the wrong way to go.

I would like to see Peacock Theatre Company, in collaboration with other theatre companies, offering workshops to interested individuals and developing an annual repertory theatre which utilises a greater range of talent, performance genres – from modern to classical, serious to comedic – and venues.  For instance we should be doing more outdoor theatre – our climate practically begs for it! 

What is your favorite Bahamian play?

Woman Take Two.  I just saw it last year at Shakespeare in Paradise 2010 and its themes are timeless and humorous, its relationships so real. 

In your years as an actor, have you seen the government support the arts in a tangible way?

Personally, I don’t think the government is at all supportive of the theatre arts.  I can’t speak for other spheres of the art world as I am not in the know.  I do think that even if the government did not give money per se that its Ministries could give more support.  In particular the Ministry of Tourism could get more involved in helping us expand our audience base.  In addition, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also a communicator of Bahamian culture around the globe we could expand our opportunities through their contacts which would include exposure, travel and grant applications.

What role, if any, should the government play in not just theatre but the arts as a whole?

The arts are often subsidised in other countries though to what extent this happens in the current economy I am not sure.  I do think that the real thrust has to come from the people, that a combination of education and entertainment can turn a profit.  In my opinion it is the private sector which will have to drive this resurrection of the theatre and hopefully once government realises how important this sector is we can then attract more funding.  Pressure from the populace is what is needed and only when a larger group of people perceive the advantages of having a well-developed theatre arts industry will the tide turn in our favour in terms of both public and private funding.  Realistically speaking, though, theatre has always struggled and survived despite low budgets with very few theatre companies becoming hugely profitable.  The thing is we have a skewed vision as it is the success stories which are publicised.  By way of example, in the U.K. the average actor in an average theatre company is making a very low wage.  Having said that, it is a richly rewarding art form for those who are called to it.  Once you are struck by theatre fever, you won’t be able to stop doing it!