Barbara GloudonBARBARA GLOUDON, O.J., O.D., Journalist by profession. Worked with Gleaner publications in which capacity as Features Editor, she had responsibility for Barbara Gloudonarts and entertainment. While reporting on events including the LTM National Pantomime, she was invited by Greta Fowler to “try her hand” at script writing. Gloudon had prior experience in theatre at St. Andrew high school where she participated in the Schools Drama Festival and was tutored by the late Jean Watson, one of the celebrated drama teachers of her time.

Gloudon accepted the challenge from Mrs. Fowler and did her first script – Moonshine Anancy in 1969. This was based on the major news event of the time – the landing of American astronauts on the Moon. The production starred Louise Bennett and Ranny Williams. In 1972, Gloudon was again invited to write and she did Hail Columbus. This was a satirical look at the arrival of Christopher Columbus and the impact on the Arawaks.

Gloudon’s affiliation with the LTM continued. She went on to create other works “The Witch” (1975) took on the topic of Annie Palmer and the Rose Hall legend. This proved to be Louise Bennett’s last Pantomime as she retired after the close of the season and later migrated to Florida and then Toronto. Gloudon returned to write again in 1978. Johnny Reggae, the first in the Pantomime series to focus on the growing phenomenon of Reggae music, proved to be one of the strongest crowd pleasers, playing to record audiences in Kingston and Montego Bay.

Her next effort was 1981 when she created The Pirate Princess based on the tale from old Jamaica of two female pirates, Mary Read and Anne Bonny, who were crime-mates of the dreaded master pirate John Rackham aka Calico Jack. An option on the script was later taken up by the Temba Theatre Company and produced in the Greater London Council’s Black Theatre season. This production was staged at the New Arts theatre in London’s West End, the first and only one to date in the Pantomime series to be so honoured.

In 1983, she wrote “Ginneral B” and in 1985 “Trash.” The latter was marked by controversy as the image of homeless people living in the trash was not regarded by critics as suitable material for Pantomime which is, after all, fantasy. But “Trash” also had another meaning for a wider Jamaican audience who had coined the phrase “trash and ready.” The production satisfied both definitions and was another benchmark in Pantomime evolution. Other scripts were based on topical events and expanded into distinctly Caribbean fantasies with the use of more eclectic music, not only from Jamaica but across the Caribbean region.

Titles to Gloudon’s credit include River Mumma and the Golden Table (1986), Schoolers (1989), Fifty-50 (1960) Man Deh Yah (1991) performed also in Trinidad for CARIFESTA. Anansi Come Back (1993), performed in London and Leeds, Moonsplash (1994) a revisit to Moonshine Anancy and extra terrestrial travel. Schoolers-2 (1995) a sequel to the very popular “Schoolers,” Anansi Web (1997) Bugsie (1999) Jack and the Macca Tree (2000) Chicken Merry Hawk Deh Near (2001).

In 2002, Miss Annie, based on “The Witch,” was re-mounted and played in Kingston and Toronto. Combolo, which was the featured work of 2003, was a re-visit to “Hail Columbus” while Iffa Nuh So, in 2004 was inspired by a play on a popular Jamaican saying which shifts responsibility for spreading false news. In 2005, there was Zu-Zu Macca, a fantasy tale with African influences.

In 2006, with World Cup cricket in the Caribbean, Howzzat, a signature cry of appeal to the umpire, was the catchy title and so to Nuff an Plenty in 2007, exploring the growing affection by Jamaicans for things Foreign.

Along the way Gloudon, partnered with Director Brian Heap, founded the Pantomime Company which provided a base of performers dedicated to the annual show. The Company also performs in the summer (August mainly) to highlight Jamaican history. Their most celebrated work is “Augus Mawnin,” a salute to the ancestors, a clever inter-weaving of song, dance, speech and other theatrical elements. “Augus Mawnin” played for ten consecutive seasons 1998-2008 and has been successfully staged in towns across Jamaica as also in New York, Florida and Toronto for Jamaicans in the Diaspora.

As an executive of the LTM, (she’s chairman-producer), Barbara Gloudon puts in untold hours of co-ordination leading to the curtain going up each Boxing Day on another Pantomime. She is hopeful that new talent will evolve soon “for the show must go on.” She has also taken on the task of leading the team to ensure that some 60 years and more of media records depicting the growth of the Pantomime is appropriately stored for reference. The dream includes the building of a small museum so that the material can be more accessible, especially to students, now that theatre studies is included in examinations.

Under Gloudon’s leadership, a solid core of talents behind the scenes has been encouraged. In Jamaican theatre, the Pantomime orchestra is the only live ensemble which accompanies on-stage performance in bright, new scores created afresh each year. The team of stage hands, technical talent in set design, costuming, choreography, are part of the LTM accomplishment. As much attention is paid to backstage as to onstage. Due acknowledgement is given to front of house and box office. If there is an LTM success story, this is it and I’m proud to be part of it, says Gloudon.