Sunday, September 27, 2009

Trevor Rhone 1940-2009

Jamaican playwright and screenwriter Trevor Rhone has died at the age of 69.

Best know for co-writing (with Perry Henzell) the film The Harder They Come, Rhone studied drama in London in the 1960s before returning to Jamaica to write and teach.

His contribution to the country's cultural life is recognised by his friend Guerney Beckford in the Jamaica Observer:
"He was really an icon," Beckford said. "His contribution to theatre cannot be measured. He found Jamaica to be a stage and we were are all actors. He loved Jamaica. His other love was Bella's Gate. He recently built a school and training centre there, and established a trust fund to run the institution. Another side to Trevor Rhone that people don't know is that he helped a lot of people. He would help in small ways, maybe a school fee here, a weeks salary that could last a month there - no one that came to him with open arms would be turned away. But that story he never wanted told."
There are obituaries in The Times and by Rob Kenner in The New York Times: was the 1972 film “The Harder They Come” that made his name. Directed by Perry Henzell, who also had a writer’s credit, and shot in the gritty streets of Kingston, the movie starred the reggae singer Jimmy Cliff as Ivan, a boy from the country who comes to Kingston with dreams of making it big as a singer but instead becomes a notorious outlaw and dies in a hail of bullets. It became an international cult classic and introduced reggae music to the world before Bob Marley became a household name.

“Trevor’s big contribution was the film’s dramatic structure,” Mr. Henzell’s daughter Justine Henzell said.
The LA Times also has an obituary:
"As a drama school student in London, I had visions of myself as a great tragedian," he told the reference guide Contemporary Authors. "I quickly learnt, however, that classic roles available to black actors were few and far between. And such parts as there were, were invariably written by white authors with little understanding of the black experience.

"My first acting jobs in the professional theater saw me perpetuating negative and stereotyped images of blacks," he added. "My first effort at writing a play was an attempt to find something worthwhile to perform."

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