Fri | Oct 30, 2020

'Uptown Bangarang' is back! - For three days only!

Published:Monday | October 1, 2018 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small/Gleaner Writer
From left: Lawrence Woodham, Douglas Prout, and Sakina Deer in Basil Dawkins’ ‘Uptown Bangarang’.
Playwright and producer Basil Dawkins.
Father and daughter-in-law Matthew (Earle Brown) and Deslin (Maylynne Lowe), converse about a serious matter in ‘Pressure Drop’. Lowe will be back for the revival of ‘Uptown Bangarang’.

For anyone who may have missed or thoroughly enjoyed it, Basil Dawkins' Uptown Bangarang, is back this weekend for a three-day seven-show revival.

Revivals are few, and it's a risk the playwright is well aware of. "The risk of doing a revival is that there are persons among potential patrons who feel they have seen it already. And the Jamaican audience is unsympathetic. Once they've seen a show and they've signed off on it, whether they like it or not, they are not committed to seeing it in five years' time."

But for the past decade, Dawkins has managed to revive his productions on an annual basis. "My success is guided by the fact that a generation has passed before I've revived. Uptown Bangarang was 2006, and now, it's 2018. There's a significance when you have a new generation that has not seen it yet," he said. "There is also the thrill of seeing a new generation of actors take on the old work," he continued.

The revival will star Maylynne Lowe, Earl Brown, Ruth Ho Shing, Chris McFarlane, Rachel Allen and Brian Johnson. It is directed by E. Wayne McDonald, who is happy to be part of the production. "It's a tremendously talented cast who have been working on the stage for - I would gamble - 40 years. They are a fascinating cast to work with," he said. He, too, has worked with Dawkins in the past - as director for Couples, staged in New York in the 1990s starring Glenn Morrison, an original cast member of Smile Orange, and for Different Tunes starring the legendary Leonie Forbes


Lack of space


But as they get ready to stage the revival, one cannot ignore the lack of theatre space in Jamaica, a fact that all involved were quick to point out.

Returning cast member Maylynne Lowe said.

"We have a mass of talent and material but a small portal. There isn't enough space to put on new work. The Barn Theatre closed, The Ward Theatre isn't operational. We have actors doing plays at Courtleigh Auditorium, which is not the right place for a play. A play is different from listening to a prime minister speak," she told The Gleaner.

Dawkins concurred adding, "We don't have enough theatre space to do the new ones, much less revivals."

Nevertheless, Lowe is excited to revisit Uptown Bangarang - her first production with Dawkins. "Now, I've done seven production with Basil Dawkins. Ruth has done like 20," she gushed.

"I'm glad we're doing it again. Redoing it is a joy. It was warmly received, and we did over 50 shows. That's the play that 'buss' Sakina Deer before she worked with Jambiz International and started doing films. It was her buss," the career actress recalled fondly.

Uptown Bangarang will be showing at the Little Theatre.