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Jamaican performance of Shakespeare's Macbeth wows City Hall

IN ACTION: The cast of Macbeth

THE LONG-awaited award-winning performance of Macbeth by students from Jamaica’s Campion College did not disappoint.

The UK audience was treated to a uniquely Jamaican Shakespearean experience at London’s prestigious City Hall on March 31.

The 15-strong cast of Campion College had waited patiently for their opportunity since winning the inaugural Jamaica National Shakespeare Schools Championships last September.

Their arrival in the UK was eagerly-anticipated across the country and no sooner had they touched down they were in demand from various print and broadcast media.

Campion College’s performance in City Hall’s unique and striking 200-plus seater Chamber with views over the Thames and the home of the Mayor Boris Johnson’s London assembly meetings provided a fitting stage for talented director Damion Radcliffe’s production.

The eloquent welcome by broadcaster and writer Lindsay Johns and Her Excellency, Aloun Ndombet-Assamba, the Jamaican High Commissioner, whet the appetite for the first ever ‘Lively Up’ Shakespeare tour created by Dr Tony Sewell, CEO of UK charity Generating Genius.

Kingsford Community School delivered a sparky version of The Tempest, while Caterham School completed the UK contribution with an ensemble production of Romeo and Juliet, which was an energetic and vibrant take on Shakespeare’s most tragic love story.

However, the majority of audience had come to witness Campion College present their unique cultural interpretation of Macbeth, which placed the Shakespearean tragedy in urban modern day Jamaica.

From the outset, the lyrical energy of Jamaican dancehall provided context to the play’s gritty reality, which cleverly combined Shakespeare’s scholarly rigour with a rootsy twist allowing the teenage cast to own this particular space.

The Campion College cast delivered a memorable ensemble performance with Radcliffe’s directorial vision skilfully marrying humour and conflict in post-colonial Jamaica.

A special mention must go out to Demitri Grant’s studied swaggering portrayal of Macbeth and Christina Emanuel’s consummate Lady Macbeth.

Their performance was applauded by appreciative audience, which included respected actor Steve Toussaint, who played Banquo several years ago in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Macbeth at Stratford-Upon-Avon’s Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

The Campion College cast belies the island’s new generation of performing talent and once again highlights the cultural achievements which continue to inspire and underpin Jamaica’s significant contribution to the creative arts.

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