Jemma Allong Redman spent half of the year in 2005 trying
to get Beryl McBurnies folk house together. Allong
Redman considered the local icon, her close personal friend
and mentor. However, when she tried to restore the facility
she encountered quite a bit of opposition.
had trouble getting actors and resources set up, she
said of the pains she faced to accomplish what shed
said she returned home to do. It is critical to do this
work here. I am only doing my contribution to this development
of theatre. Others are doing their bit but I came here to
get a home for the theatre.
of country if it isnt preserved, what are we? We are
importing things without question. No more tradition. Maintaining
who we are.
She longs to restore the tradition of McBurnie and the other
great theatrical figures into the modern day vernacular.
People think doing things in her name is whats
important but she was about the work.
was one person that although people were critical, she accomplished
a lot. She sacrificed.
Strand and Relevants vision
Allong Redman says that the difference between Relevant
Theatres new homethe Strand Theatreand
the other facilities that house theatrical show is that
it is not a rental facility. It is a home where the
living culture will be harnessed, preserved and taught for
present and future generations.
the culture has to be preserved, harnessed and taught,
she surmised, everyone has work to do. People have
to become involved. Theatre is a business.
Allong Redman believes that it is only after theatre finds
a home that the organisation of theatre can take place.
is important, she says. The artiste has become
a hustler because of how the system operates. [Richard]
Ragoobarsingh and [Raymond] Choo Kong can afford to put
on large professional production and they can do this because
they put on commercial theatre.
Allong Redman maintains that these shows are important to
the development and showcasing of nation building productions
but says that while they sell, not every [theatrical] show
will be popular or will have mass appeal.
Among the reasons Allong Redman gives for the poor state
of local theatre is the basic lack of respect.
lot of why I came back was a hungering for what we had in
the 80s, she disclosed, Artiste lack respect
for each other, this is at our own down fall. Redman
sees that now the fibre is unravelling they dont have
respect for the culture. There is no respect in society
on the whole. Traditions are not being passed on.
Redman hopes that Relevants new home will be a place
for artistes to gather and network. She plans to unveil
a new facility called The Sidewalk Cafe and will serve food,
beverages and encourage an exchange of ideas between artistes.
I look on the space to do I Am Risen (the play she wrote
and directed in April of this year), I saw it as a resurrection
to the heart of the city.
is a languishing of some of our local artistes that are
still alive. Hope theyll come and teach and lecture
to pass on to younger generations.
Among Allong Redmans designs for the theatre she plans
to erect pictures and sculptures of icons of theatre so
that patrons can see it as a place of history and preservation.
The Minister of Community Development, Culture and Gender
Affairs, Joan Yuille Williams has agreed to be patron of
Theatre is vital to society
Allong Redman quotes a piece of literature from Derek Walcotts
The Antilles: Fragments of Epic Memory, A morning
could come in which governments might ask what happened
not merely to the forests and bays but to a whole people.
is nation building, she explains, culture, acting
and theatre are misused words.
Allong Redman points to the break down of society and relates
it to the breakdown in our cultural traditions.
She goes on to speak of Relevant Theatre Productions
mandate. We are not training to be stars. We are about
want to breed a difference in what we put out of here. We
want people who are serious and passionate about the work
and have commitment.
is not just dressing up, putting on makeup and going on
stage, she chastised.
fault is in the training.
She opines that the corporate world has to be more socially
responsible as far as theatre. Not everything to be
the bottom line.
the whole we are reaching to a point in theatre that if
we dont get serious about responsibility, accountability
well have to ask, Where is this place?