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Akiba Abaka Arts presents ’10 Weeks in Jamaica: Theatre Conversations from Jamaica to the World!’

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Akiba Abaka Arts presents ’10 Weeks in Jamaica: Theatre Conversations from Jamaica to the World!’

Every Sunday through Jan. 3, Akiba Abaka Arts presents weekly discussions with Jamaican theater artists in collaboration with RAW Management and Howlround. The series, “10 Weeks in Jamaica: Theatre Conversations from Jamaica to the World!” broadcasts Jamaican artists to the global stage and allows members of the Caribbean diaspora to connect with artists and narratives of home.

Each week, the discussion centers on a new theme in the history of Jamaican theater, such as queer narratives, Afro-futurism and dancehall reggae. One of the aims of the series is to illustrate the breadth and power of Jamaican art and narratives, fighting the pigeonholing of the island as a tourist destination and reggae hub.

Jamaican actor Glen "Titus" Campbell. COURTESY PHOTO

Jamaican actor Glen “Titus” Campbell. Campbell and  Lenford Salmon will discuss “The Business of the Jamaican Stage,” Sunday, Nov. 22. COURTESY PHOTO

By streaming online, the conversations can engage a global audience, providing the opportunity to break down stereotypes on a greater scale.

“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 theater practitioners and engage the theater community for future collaborations,” says Akiba Abaka, co-artistic director of the Boston-based Akiba Abaka Arts. “But the pandemic forced us, like many others, to do a major pivot and reimagine how to engage the Jamaican theater community without being on the island.”

The “10 Weeks in Jamaica” discussions may have particular appeal in Boston, where 40% of the immigrant population in Dorchester and 84% of the immigrant population in Mattapan hails from the Caribbean, according to the Boston Planning and Development Agency. The series provides local residents a connection to the arts of the Caribbean in a time when visits aren’t feasible.

The series was dreamed up by the Akiba Abaka Arts team, a group dedicated to telling diverse global theater stories, particularly within the Caribbean diaspora, and Nadean Rawlins, founder and managing director of RAW Management Agency, a Kingston, Jamaica-based talent group.

Past episodes of “10 Weeks in Jamaica” can be viewed in HowlRound’s video archive and Akiba Abaka Arts’ YouTube page at any time. New episodes stream every Sunday at 4 p.m. on both platforms.

“This partnership with Akiba Abaka Arts is timely because it comes at a period in our generation when the landscape of the Jamaican theater is changing right before our very eyes,” says Rawlins. “Together we are able to contribute in reshaping the narrative of Jamaican theater.”