“10 Weeks in Jamaica” features Orville Hall, Marlon D. Simms and Neila Ebanks


"10 Weeks in Jamaica" features Orville ”Xpressionz” Hall,  Neila Ebanks, and Marlon D. Simms

Orville ”Xpressionz” Hall, Neila Ebanks, and Marlon D. Simms

10 WEEKS IN JAMAICA: Theatre Conversations from Jamaica to the World! – Dancehall Reggae and the Nettleford Effect on Sunday, November 29

[BOSTON]10 WEEKS IN JAMAICA: Theatre Conversations from Jamaica to the World! is a series of lively weekly discussions with Jamaica’s leading theatre artists exploring the histories and memories of—and future visions for—the Jamaican stage.

Produced by Boston-based international theatre production company Akiba Abaka Arts, in partnership with Kingston-based talent agency and production company RAW Management, the series has been connecting Jamaican theatre artists with a global platform of theatre makers looking to gain new knowledge, share best practices around progressive theatre-making, and engage members of the greater Caribbean Diaspora longing for familiar stories of home.

“10 Weeks in Jamaica” weekly conversations can be streamed live each Sunday at 4 PM through Jan.3, 2021 on the Akiba Abaka Arts YouTube page here. Previous episodes are available for on-demand viewing on the same site.

The next conversation on Sunday, November 29 at 4 PM is titled Dancehall Reggae and the Nettleford Effect.

The sounds and movements of Dancehall Reggae music scores the landscape of Jamaica’s cultural identity. Rooted in the Afro-Jamaican Kumina and Mento traditions, this form of popular music is among the country’s largest exports.

The Honorable Rex Nettleford, OM, FIJ, OCC – a Jamaican scholar and choreographer, and co-founder of the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica – shared philosophies on the importance of contemporary Jamaican music and its linkage to pre-colonial African societies. He expressed these philosophies through dance theatre and a rigorous support for the arts in academia, as well as in the shaping of Jamaica’s national identity.

Sunday’s conversation brings together three beneficiaries of Nettleford’s legacy for a conversation on how Dancehall Reggae shows up on the Jamaican stage:

  • Orville ”Xpressionz” Hall, artistic director for Theatre Xpressionz and chief judge for Jamaica’s number one dance program “Dancing Dynamite”;
  • Marlon D. Simms, Dean of the School of Dance and Artistic Director for the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica;
  • Neila Ebanks, a dancer, choreographer and educator considered one of the Caribbean’s most innovative performing artists.

The conversation is moderated by Jamaican-American theater entrepreneur, actress and director Akiba Abaka.

Future 10 Weeks In Jamaica programs in the series include:
  • Sunday, December 6, 4PM EST


Speakers: David Tulloch and Fabian Thomas


  • Sunday, December 13, 4PM EST


Speakers: Dahlia Harris and Amba Chevannes


  • Sunday, December 20, 4PM EST


Speakers: Karl Williams and Webster McDonald


  • Sunday, December 27, 4PM EST


Speakers: Evone Walters, Andrew Barracks and Rayon McLean


Sunday, January 3, 4PM EST


Speakers: Tanya Batson Savage and Michael Holgate

Often seen as an ideal tropical vacation destination, the island nation of Jamaica is a tourism and cultural hub of the Caribbean best-known globally for ska and reggae music, world-class sprinters, ganja culture, sunshine and beautiful beaches.

Yet, Jamaica also possesses a theatrical legacy with catalytic approaches to decolonization, language reclamation, indigenous narrative formation, community development and nation-building.

As the world focuses on achieving racial equity, the rich history and contemporary narratives of the Jamaican stage provides valuable learnings for theatre practitioners and audiences in search of models and memories of progressive community-building through the arts.

“When Jamaica closed its borders to travelers earlier this year we were scheduled to be on the island to work on a new play, Bar Girl of Jamaica by Robert Johnson Jr., work with Jamaican theatre practitioners, and engage the theatre community for future collaborations” says Akiba Abaka, co-artistic director of Akiba Abaka Arts. “But the pandemic forced us, like many others, to do a major pivot and reimagine how to engage the Jamaican theatre community without being on the island”.

The idea for “10 Weeks in Jamaica” came about during a virtual meeting of Jamaican theatre artists hosted by Kingston Creative, where Abaka’s team met Nadean Rawlins, founder and managing director of Raw Management Agency, and Evone Walters of Artribute JA, a performing arts company.

The group discussed the challenges of creating sustainable theatre in Jamaica and saw an opportunity to connect Jamaican theatre artists with the global theatre platform HowlRound at Boston’s Emerson College and the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center at City University of New York, whose Executive Director Frank Hentschker, provided advised the team on bringing the series together.

“This partnership with Akiba Abaka Arts is timely because it comes at a period in our generation when the landscape of the Jamaican theatre is changing right before our very eyes,” Rawlins says.

“With Akiba Abaka Arts’ mission to provide access to theatre practitioners to tell stories on the global stage, and RAW Management’s commitment to promote Jamaican talent internationally, together we are able to contribute in reshaping the narrative of Jamaican theatre.”, says Rawlins.

“HowlRound is a platform made by and for global theatre makers to connect around ideas that challenge our status quo. We couldn’t be more excited to be in conversation with an incredible group of Jamaican artists and culture workers for the first time through the 10 Weeks in Jamaica project,” says Jamie Gahlon, director and co-founder of HowlRound.

“The possibilities for connection, inspiration, and learning that it provides embodies the power of what our virtual meeting ground can offer,” Gahlon says.


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