Simon’s eyes set on film
Actor sees Barbados at take-off point
Film in Barbados is moving up –– this according to well known actor Simon Alleyne, better known for his role in the Bajan comedy series Laff It Off. Alleyne is of the view that film in Barbados is about to reach its pinnacle.
“I believe that film is really taking off in Barbados. Shows like Keeping Up With The Joneses and the great work by Shakirah Bourne in terms of Payday and Two Smart. Marcia Weekes has a cadre of films, from Hush #1.
“So I believe that it really is taking off. A lot of things are happening in Barbados culturally,” the actor said.
Alleyne, who first got involved in drama in 1993 at Erdiston Primary School, said now was a “phenomenal time” for the youth.
“It is an exciting time for young Bajans. A lot of them are studying theatre at BCC [Barbados Community College] or have done the CXC, as well as UWI.
“I hope that these young people have the energy and tenacity to stick with theatre and film, and continue to carry it forward.
Alleyne, involved in the art form from the time he was a lad, intends to continue and wants nothing more than to see theatre and film respected and taken seriously in Barbados.
“I love acting. I have been involved in theatre in Barbados from 1997. My interest for the stage started from when I was back in primary school. For our graduation in 1993 we had to do a dramatic presentation about living in the Caribbean, and it was directed by Jennifer Sealy. So my association with her got me involved in theatre.
“After I left Erdiston Primary, I went to Combermere, and there I was exposed to a lot of theatre in terms of seeing it being done onstage, and also being able to join the Combermere Dramatic Society. Being at the school really sparked my interest in theatre,” Alleyne said.
“I don’t think that theatre and film are taken as seriously as it should be, because people look for instant returns as it relates to theatre and film. It’s really expensive to do a start-up and the returns are not as instant. Film takes a lot more effort. Greater investment is needed from the private sector to make film take off in Barbados.”
Alleyne, 32, who is known as well for his role as the bus driver in the popular Democratic Labour Party 2013 general election campaign TV commercial, was also a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Scholarship In Drama which he received in 1999.
“I wasn’t really able to access the funds as I would have liked. However it still opened doors for me, because it had me as a credible actor. And I respected that as well.”
And because of his love for theatre and film, Alleyne and his wife have now started a foundation to give back to the art form.
“We formed a charity called the Lighthouse Foundation. The purpose or the mission of the Lighthouse Foundation is to create and develop message-based media to build public awareness on social issues.
We try to produce plays, radio dramas or anything to that nature that has a message. And also be a conduit to channel some funds towards a cause, he explained.
The foundation is currently working on the play Girl On Fire, which he says will be an exciting one for adults.
“Girl On Fire is about the lives of sex workers facing stigma and discrimination. We wanted to show the human side to sex workers,” Alleyne said.
The play comes off on August 30 and 31 at Comberemere School; and part of the proceeds will go to the HIV/AIDS Food Bank.
The actor further explained: “We are looking to turn the play Girl On Fire and make it into a rated R film to showcase to the people of Barbados what really goes on in the island. We are looking to reach a global audience.”
As to the future, Alleyne said he would like to develop his craft in playwriting and directing.
“If I do writing, I do mainly monologues for myself on stage. I am now stepping into the area of directing. It is quite challenging. It is a new experience for me.
“I really would like to get some formal training in directing, even if it is done locally. I would also like to learn how to write a play properly, and engaging. I would also like to develop my acting craft as well.
“I have done a lot of theatre acting, but not much film.”