KINGSTON — Jack of all trades and master of many fits the description of George Carter, who will be honoured for his outstanding service to both theatre and the Credit Union Movement, at the 2011 Honours and Awards Ceremony at King's House, on National Heroes Day, Monday October 17.
Mr. Carter, who says theatre has been his life and passion and he has no regrets, began in his career in 1931 while at St. George’s College.
"I worked assiduously behind-the-scenes for the benefit of the school theatre and the school's arts programmes," he informs JIS News.
He worked with many famous theatre stalwarts and gained a wealth of knowledge from productions such as, “Aladdin”, as well as the pantomimes, "Cinderella" and “Beauty and the Beast”, in 1947 and 1948, respectively.
After leaving St. George’s College, he enrolled in several electroplating firms to upgrade his technical skills. He started his own electroplating business during the war, under the patronage of Father George Blatchford, a scientist who taught at St. George’s.
His technical abilities were recognized by the Little Theatre Movement (LTM), and he was offered the position as a technical director, debuting as lighting designer in 1954.
Reflecting on hisyears at the LTM, he said it was as an opportunity of a lifetime.
"When I went to the LTM, I went with experience, so I fitted in beautifully. It didn’t take long before I was promoted to stage manager, because I had the experience that they were looking for," Mr. Carter says.
With over 70 years of experience in his profession, Mr. Carter has demonstrated versatility in several areas of theatre.
"I taught technical theatre at Edna Manley College, which is my first love. I am also founder of the School of Drama, which was stimulated through the Little Theatre Movement (LTM). The school was later transferred to the Jamaica Cultural Training Centre, presently Edna Manley College for the Visual Arts in 1976," he explains with great enthusiasm.
Mr. Carter also lectured at the Extra-mural Department, now the Phillip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, which falls under the umbrella of the University of the West Indies (UWI).
He credits his life work as a legacy that has benefitted thousands of persons, both locally and internationally.
"I am happy that I have made my mark in theatre, and especially in the electroplating business, which I also taught. A lot of students that I have taught are now in big positions," he states proudly.
Remarkably, Mr. Carter was also a founding member of the Credit Union Movement in Jamaica in 1942, through his connection with St. Georges College. He says the idea surfaced from indepth research.
“Interviews were done with persons who were involved in the riot and we found that the cause of the riot was wants: People simply wanted a little more money, and when their requests were not granted it resulted in huge chaos,” he explains.
Mr. Carter and his colleagues conceded that the Credit Union Movement was the appropriate mechanism to meet the needs of low class income Jamaicans. Since it's inception, it has benefitted thousands of people and has helped to sustain growth in the economy.
Even in retirement, “at the young age”, Mr. Carter still plays an integral role in theatre by advising youngsters at Edna Manley College, Little Theatre, and other organizations.
"Whatever aspect of the Theatre one chooses to pursue a career in, there is opportunity for them, both locally and internationally," he adds.
He is looking forward to writing two books, to complete his life’s work: One reflecting on the Credit Union Movement in the Caribbean, and the other on technical theatre.
On his national recognition he says he wasn’t surprised when he heard that he was selected to receive an award.
"It is a tremendous feeling, and it makes me feel appreciated, that what I have done has been recognized and has also made history," he expresses.
Mr. Carter firmly believes that Jamaican theatre will go on forever, and encourages young Jamaicans to study hard, and strive to perform to the best of their ability.
By Jeneva Gordon, JIS PRO