School of Drama Incorporates Community Intervention in its Programme

Photo: Mark Bell Lecturer in the School of Drama, Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Marvin George, addresses Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ‘Think Tank’ on Tuesday, June 20.

Story Highlights

  • The School of Drama at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts has incorporated community intervention as a significant aspect of its programme offering, designed to help students identify the value of the arts to society.
  • Lecturer, Marvin George, noted that in addition to Drama in Education training, as a means of contributing to development, there is also ‘popular development’, which is reflected in the artist’s growth as a Jamaican or Caribbean performer by his participation in activities at the community level.
  • He explained that the School of Drama has been using theatre production in communities such as Waterhouse and Joy Town as a means of helping children and youth through a range of personal development challenges.

The School of Drama at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts has incorporated community intervention as a significant aspect of its programme offering, designed to help students identify the value of the arts to society.

Lecturer, Marvin George, noted that in addition to Drama in Education training, as a means of contributing to development, there is also ‘popular development’, which is reflected in the artist’s growth as a Jamaican or Caribbean performer by his participation in activities at the community level.

“This looks at how the artist can grow as an artist, and in growing as an artist, that he is clear on his Jamaican and Caribbean sensibilities, how he moves, how he speaks and that he can have a kind of cultural confidence when he performs. It also deals with how the work that the artist might do… can benefit the wider society,” he said.

Mr. George, himself an experienced Caribbean playwright, director and actor, was addressing a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ‘Think Tank’ on June 20.

He explained that the School of Drama has been using theatre production in communities such as Waterhouse and Joy Town as a means of helping children and youth through a range of personal development challenges.

“In the School of Drama, apart from teaching the skill of acting or directing, one of the ways in which we attempt to allow for the student to recognise the entrepreneurial opportunities for the craft is by linking the work to communities. When you enter the community with your theatre training, you can examine ways in which your training can respond to the development concerns of the community,” he said.

Mr. George further noted that when students from the College experience the work having value on the community outside of theatre, it allows them to expand their view of how they can use their skills outside of getting a job.

“That is how you stimulate creativity, imagination and entrepreneurship – by challenging the individual and the skill set to examine what else can be done,” he said.

He pointed out that the programme in the faculty also provides grounding in cultural studies, which helps the student look at the traditions that exist in his environment and understand how that can impact his theatre performance.

“For that person to graduate and go out in the world as an actor, that person has to ask a question of the community or environment that he is living in and attempt to answer that question, through performance; and that serves as his thesis. This tests his abilities as a performer or an actor, testing the value of what he creates as art to the community that he wants to serve,” Mr. George said.

JIS Social