It has always seemed that Roots Plays were considered by the public and theatre practitioners to be the dirty ‘child’ of theatre.
It often featured some not so well known actors and showed in various small playhouses away from mainstream theatre houses such as Ward Theatre and the Little Theatre. It was also very evident that the actors that appeared in Roots plays did not appear in Mainstream productions and vice versa. I dare to say that to some Roots actors were not considered ‘real’ actors.
Lately I have noticed a few of what I would call mainstream actors such as Volier Johnson and Michael Nicholson appearing in some Roots plays sparking discussion.
I over heard one person saying that she felt that it was a step down for the actors who have clearly lowered their standards by being in Roots productions. Another friend of mine said, it may is the money in the field that pulled them to it, as roots plays have increased in popularity in recent years with many travelling around the island and even overseas for many months at a time.
I wonder what to make of this trend. Maybe this is the first step in helping Roots plays and actors get the respect that it has sought. I wonder if the theatre world is finally becoming unified recognising talent across all lines. I personally would love to see unity as this can only encourage the growth and development of theatre in Jamaica.
Should Roots and mainstream actors mix? Was it a good move for the actors careers for them to become involved in Roots theatre? Should other mainstream actors follow suit? Can Jamaica eventually have one unified theatre industry or will there continue to be a divide?