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Volume No. 1 Issue No. 40 - Wednesday April 02, 2003
Alwin BullyAlwin Bully Treats Theatre with Respect
From:Jamaica On-Line Star

FOR SESONED DIRECTOR Alwin Bully, being involved with theatre is not by chance. In fact, it runs in his blood.

This tall and handsome native of Dominica has had his mother and father, who were both actors, as role models.

He grew up and got his early schooling in Dominica, but due to the regional integrator that is the University of West Indies (UWI), he became deeply involved in Jamaica. He attended the Cave Hill campus in 1967 and pursued an arts degree, majoring in English and French. He was the president of the Guild of Undergraduates there.

As a result, he was in Jamica quite often, attending the various meetings and workshops. It was then that he became aware it was the island with the most developed theatre movement. He forged links with other persons involved in the arts, among them Leonie Forbes, Noel Dexter and Professor Rex Nettleford.

Alwin Bully immigrated to Jamaica in 1987 and has been active in theatre ever since. He has directed I Marcus Garvey, Cheaters, The Night Box (also written by him) and, most recently, Sarafina.

This multi-talented individual, in addition to writing and directing plays, also designs theatre costumes.

Presently, he is the artistic director to Father HoLung and Friends and has won several Actor Boy awards. Most recently, he received the Best Director award for Oroonkno. He has directed productions such as Isaiah, The Rock, Sugar Cane, Ruby, Spirit, and Run Come for the company.

He is not a professional director, though, according to him, he would like to think that he has professional standards. However, he has read widely on directing techniques and other aspects of theatre.

Mr. Bully's day job sees him as the cultural advisor for the Caribbean with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Of course, this means that his 'hobby' gets sidelined at times, since his job takes him all over, but especially within the region. However, Mr. Bully finds ways of working theatre into his busy schedule, directing various productions across the Caribbean.

Alwin Bully can best be described as a powerhouse of creativity. Although theatre is his number one interest, he dabbles in painting, drawing, choreography and set design.

There is no mistaking Mr. Bully's role as director. According to him "the actor is vitally important because the actor is the one that interprets the work, but the actor very often cannot do too much without good direction. And what you actually see on stage is the vision of the director, because he or she is telling the actors what to do, how to do it; the director has to approve everything.

The director has to approve the lighting, set design, costumes, the sound, the music, if there is music involved. Everything becomes the responsibility of the director and, as such, the final product that you see out there, if it is humourous, if it is good sounding music, good dance, is the final vision of the director."

He further adds that "if something happens on-stage without the director's permission, then that's really breaking the rules, because nothing is supposed to happen on-stage without the approval or acceptance of the director. That this is what he wants the production to look like."

Mr. Bully summarised that the role of the director is central to the entire production. However, he was quick to point out that theatre is one of the most co-operative and interdependent arts that you can imagine. This is because there is no category of persons, actors or sound and light people, which can do without the others.

According to Alwin Bully, the back and forth exchange among all the various components is reflected in the expression that "theatre is the arts where all the arts meet."

Interestingly, this can be seen in Bully's own career. For example, he said that his painting skills come out in a production. "Because when I think of how a scene is to be acted out, I see it as a painting. So I decide on what composition I want (where are people going to be standing) and how they move and change the shape of the play is very important - formations such as circles, straight lines, people sitting in different directions...

"All these things have to do with your vision of how the thing looks as a painting. It is the same thing with colour, whether or not you want more colour, so the costume needs to get brighter or the lighting should have a little more red or a little more yellow in it."

He asserted that the skills in all the arts comes into play. "How is the song, is the song sounding right, is the music right, should there be music between the scenes or should there be silence between the scenes? All these things are very important as to how the audience responds to the play," Mr. Bully said.

After 16 years in the theatre, Mr. Bully has developed a philosophical view on the role of the theatre. He is very concerned about teaching people and making them concious of who they are. For him, Jamaican or Caribbean theatre should continously reflect our identity as a people. "First of all, as Caribbean, as black people, our history, our culture is vitally important and theatre has to be a part of that education," said Mr.Bully.

In that vein, he has turned down many offers to direct various productions, in order to stay true to his belief that theatre should be conscious. However, he does not bash comedy, but instead believes that variety is best and we need to develop theatre literature. This literature should be such that our children can study at school, much like how they study Shakepeare.

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Volume No. 1 Issue No. 40
Alwin Bully Treats Theatre With Respect
Fresh Calls for Early General Elections
Lara Named as West Indies Captain
Decisive Leadership Needed
Why Depend on the US or the IMF?

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