Comedy is Serious Business: Why the Recession Can't Hold Back Stages Production

In his book on Jamaican theatre Errol Hill notes the existence of two kinds of ‘native’ theatre, populist and art theatre. Populist theatre, usually in the vernacular language, Patwa, caters to large audiences with comic, often bawdy content-- while English-speaking art theatre, altogether more serious in plot and outlook has lofty aspirations to uplift the moral and intellectual fibre of its audiences.

 In contemporary Jamaica the latter genre has been completely trumped by the former, more often termed ‘roots’ plays--over-thetop, slapstick vehicles for lurid sexual banter and intrigue. On any given weekday Jamaicans have a choice of three or four such productions proving that the national appetite for entertainment outstrips its desire for edification. Or perhaps the countless Churches on the island fulfill the latter role leaving little room for competition. In the latter half of the Noughties (the decade of the 2000s) one theatre company has dominated the landscape with a string of ribald productions that play to full houses both locally and abroad--in the Jamaican and Caribbean diaspora.

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