September 15, 2009

Master of the Tragicomic: Trevor D. Rhone (1940-2009)

One of the most gut-busting, laugh out loud moments I experienced in a theater was when Oliver Samuels stepped on stage wearing a gas mask in the play School’s Out which was written and directed by Trevor D. Rhone. This giant of Caribbean theatre died today at the age of 69.

Rhone’s great strength as a writer was his ability to weave memorable characters, born out of the matrix of Jamaican history and culture, into a text that always contained biting social commentary. He was also one of the funniest playwrights in the Caribbean. Another of those hilarious moments that Rhone created, this time in film, that I’ll never forget was in Smile Orange: “I can’t swim, Miss Doris. I can’t swim.”

Of course, Trevor Rhone will be remembered for coauthoring, The Harder They Come, the film that brought reggae and the cruelties of the Jamaican ghettoes uptown. Ever since Ivanhoe Martin, singer and gun man, stepped into our celluloid imagination, the world has never been the same.

Trevor Rhone’s tragicomic vision and his abilty to portray the harsh realities of Jamaican life while never losing his sense of humor will remain unrivalled in Caribbean theatre for a long time. His unique voice will be missed when the curtain falls, and the lights will be dimmer throughout the Caribbean.


Photo Credit: Jamaica Observer

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1 comment:

FSJL said...

Rhone was one of the most acerbic, and at the same time most caring observers of Jamaican life. It's hard to believe he was only 69. He packed a lot into his lifetime.

I laughed like hell at that "gas-mask" scene too. Possibly even at the same performance at the Creative Arts Centre.