Old Story Time/Smile Orange Paperback – Apr 1988
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Old story A buoyantly funny plot, and language that really sings. THE TIMES A truly magnificent comic creation. TIME OUT Smile Orange A savage little comedy. SUNDAY TELEGRAPH A rollicking slapstick satire. WASHINGTON STAR
About the Author
Trevor Rhone was born in Kingston the year before the LTM was founded. On 24 March 1940, he was born into a large black family- twenty-one children in all (his father married twice). Rhone grew up in Belles Gate, a village in St Catherine. As a little boy he attended concerts at which members of the audience would offer to pay small sums to take a performer off or to put him on again. 'before I had seen a play,' he has said, 'I knew pretty much what my life's work should be.' At the age of about nine he had decided: he was going to be an actor. After primary schools in St Catherine he had his secondary education (1952-57) at Beckford and Smith's (now St Jago High School) in Spanish Town. He became involved in the Secondary Schools' Drama Festival and' later, in the annual LTM pantomime. After leaving school he took various jobs and' with the beginning of the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation, began to write radio plays. About that time, when he had been thinking seriously of going abroad to study, he happened to meet the Trinidadian actor Edric Connor who suggested the Rose Bruford College in Kent, England, but also cautioned, 'whatever they teach you, forget half of it!' At Rose Bruford (1960-63) Rhone learnt a great deal about the history and development of theatre, stage-craft, how to make optimum use of slender resources; about mime, the use of the body, the voice; and so on. His one important reservation about the experience was that he was being forced, in that ambience, to deny his own roots and to acknowledge the roots of England instead. 'That, I think, was the real hazard of the place: that they tried to make you into somebody your not, and make you into what they were.' Full of hope, he returned to Jamaica and had to go into teaching, for which Rose Bruford had also trained him. But he was distressed at the low salary and the fact that little seemed to be happening in theatre. Competent ventures such as Jamaica Playhouse and the National Theatre Trust were yet to come. Rhone found the climate 'desert-like'. After nine months he travelled to England again. But in London he was unhappy with the type of role available to the black actor; so in 1965 he left for Jamaica again. This time he and seven associates decided that they would make something happen in Jamaican theatre. They called themselves Theatre '77, giving themselves twelve years to establish something worthwhile. The beginnings were difficult. For one reason or another, many of the original people fell away. Two of those who stuck it out were Trevor Rhone and Yvonne Jones (Brewster). A variety of plays, Caribbean and non-Caribbean, were presented at what they called the Barn Theatre, the adapted garage of a private home. Phrase by phrase, the garage was converted into an intimate theatre, adequately equipped, seating 150. In the early years of the Barn Theatre, Rhone earned a living by teaching in various schools. Wishing to produce a pantomime for one of them, St Andrew Technical, he found that English scripts available did not fully engage the interest of students; and, with the astute encouragement of the headmaster, he took time off from classes in order to write a Jamaican adaptation. The show went well, and next year Mr Rhone was expected to produce another pantomime script. A year later he produced a third. In 1969, sitting in a staff room contemplating his paltry salary and the dispiriting conditions, Rhone decided to resign from teaching and attempt to write full time. The Gadget was written in 1969: a relationship in it, between peasent mother and educated son, points forward to Old Story Time. In 1970-71, a very productive year, Rhone co-authored The Harder They Come (a feature film directed by Perry Henzell), rushed through Music Boy (a script for the LTM pantomime, "the fastest i've ever worked"), and wrote Smile Orange. Comic Strip (1973) and Sleeper (1974) were followed by Schools Out (1975). Scripted and directed by Rhone himself, a film version of Smile Orange was completed later that year. Old Story Time, first presented in 1979, was followed by Everyman (1981), a musical. Two Can Play (1982) has been done in various cities, including Paris (Jeu Pour Duex: 1985), has been published and is available on video, Rhone's most recent play, The Game, opened in Kingston in 1985.
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