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Is the Theatre under-played?

The role theatre can play in a developing economy has to be further examined as we seek creative ways to stimulate growth. The creative economy/industry is definitely one which the Jamaican institution should pay keener attention to as it heads towards the 2020 vision of being the place where people want to do business, grow their children and lead a healthy and wholesome life.

Theatre pretty much defines the people, places, food and so many other things in a community, but the efforts should be made to support the narratives by providing some of the following:

  • Appropriate spaces for the theatre
  • Appropriate education and academic programmes to support the diversity of the theatre and its accompanying careers, jobs and linkage systems
  • An agency which create value added to the ‘local’ theatre for export
  • The incentive to create additional elements of the theatre into books, films and other masterpieces

Theatre connects people in so many ways

  • Empowers a community
  • Creates a foundation for a definitive sense of place
  • Attracts new and emerging audiences, even visitors from other countries
  • Builds the value of a community through use of its language and its perspectives on life
  •  Contributes to the development of a skilled workforce

I want to make the case for theatre under the cliché of “art imitating life’ where the authentic story comes out in creative stories through the stage which parades music, acting, food and fashion. Jamaica is a hotbed of creative stories and more and more the efforts to formalise the creative industry should be seen as a priority.

The research has shown that the creative economy is one economy of growth across the board in all types of economies. In a United Nations Special Economy Report for 2013 – the evidence shows that:

The Report confirms the creative economy as one of the most rapidly growing sectors of the world economy and a highly transformative one in terms of income generation, job creation and export earnings.   But this is not all there is to it.  For unlocking the potential of the creative economy also means promoting the overall creativity of societies, affirming the distinctive identity of the places where it flourishes and clusters, improving the quality of life there, enhancing local image and prestige and strengthening the resources for the imagining of diverse new futures.

The evidence provided demonstrates how the cultural and creative industries are at the core of local creative economies in the global South and how they forge “new development pathways that encourage creativity and innovation in the pursuit of inclusive, equitable and sustainable growth and development” that the UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda exhorts the international community to take.

Read more here


The report does not distinguish economies, but what it does; it speaks to the planning, building of capacity and the ‘creative’ use of resources to reinforce messages. It points to the international debates which they suggest will go on for a very long time.

Jamaican theatre has the elements for its own industry and a roadmap should be prepared to look at a more sustainable plan to make it viable for the major stakeholders; while forging a relationship with corporate to re-engage consumers. A better physical space must be a priority.

The Ward Theatre lingers in the downtown area of Kingston. The 101 year old facility has way too much history not to be preserved. There are so many benefits to having that facility restored and could be not just a place where audiences are thrilled by superior acting, but also become a major attraction. Catch up on the history here


The 2013/2014 Theatre season looks great by the many shows which opened in the last week. While that is great, there is one thing wrong about that, there is not one space where all that information is available, but each production has to be promoting its own. Maybe there is an opportunity for a marketing firm to get behind theatre productions. It is an opportunity after all.

Tom Stoppard is quoted as saying “We do on stage things that are supposed to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else?” 




A sport aficionado who writes, researches and presents on everything sport. A second book is out to prove her work's reach. She reads in her spare time.

2 thoughts on “Is the Theatre under-played?

  1. Theatre has a big role to play over the next fifty year peiod of our development. There was a time when there were many plays that largely attracted a certain set of people who enjoyed/understood the light side of things…the baseline connection…the erotic/vulgar/mass appeal repetitious subject areas. They had a consistent crowd. There were others that drew a more sophisticated audience….the Pantomimies….plays by people like David Heron….The bases will have to be reignited for people to see, initially, that expenditure as necessary and grow the depth of community/business/social/entertainment/opportunities around different levels/genres/pedigrees of plays not just in Kingston but overtime to develop constant stops around the island. Will be long and tedious but it can be done. Several have made names on the local scene and theere is room for expansion on what currently obtains. Am sure I have more to say on the issue but will need to process some more…

  2. Well said Carole. Another industry that is definitely underplayed and if capitalised on could help to grow our GDP. There is so much we as a people could do in so many sectors to help build our country instead of sitting around and blaming the Government. Yes the Government has to share the blame for ills of our country but it is time the private sector and the people realise that each one of us can make a difference in our little cabbage patch.

    Perfect example of the people with theatrical skills going unnoticed is Dutty Berry. He rose to fame along with Tessanne because of his tenacity and determination. He could have given up after years of putting his video on you tube and not really gaining the momentum he needed but he persevered and look at him now. Like Tess he is humble, talented and genuinely grateful for the love shown by the Jamaican people. I can surely say that from ‘The Voice’ we gained not one but two stars.
    Nice pun on the words “under-played” by the way.

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