BY RICHARD JOHNSON —-
RALPH Holness, a giant in roots theatre, died on Saturday after a long illness.
Holness, who hails from Westmoreland, was responsible for producing rib-tickling plays during the 1980s and 1990s. They include Unda Mi Nose, Dead Lef and Obeah Wedding.
Judith McKenzie, aesthetician at Totally Male, pampers patient Ralph Holness at the University Hospital of the West Indies on Labour Day.
Yesterday, actress Audrey Reid remembered Holness, whom she worked with in the early 1980s.
“I first became associated with Ralph when he worked for Ed Bim Productions on the play Village Rooster. However, we really started working together when he revived Obeah Wedding,” she told the Jamaica Observer.
Reid recalls being cast as an understudy in Obeah Wedding but eventually took over the main role.
She also appeared in other Holness productions, including Conman
“Ralph had such a passion for his work. If you didn’t know him, you would think he was aggressive. But it was really a desire to make a production come together in the right way,” said Reid.
“When him talk is like thunder roll, but deep down he was a good person and theatre was his passion,” she continued.
Actor Volier Johnson said Holness’ legacy is his ability to market his plays.
“Ralph Holness is one of those producers who teach theatre people how to advertise their plays effectively. He was able to draw the masses to the theatre by advertising properly,” said Johnson.
Reid supports this statement.
“All the people who are now enjoying success in theatre have to ask Ralph Holness questions about how to take theatre to the people through advertising,” she said.
The Jamaica Association of Dramatic Artists (JADA) added its voice in tribute, with its president Scarlett Beharie describing Holness as a visionary.
“He opened the door in a major way and showed us the way towards mainstream commercial success in local theatre. The entire theatre community is grateful for his extensive contribution and saddened by his passing.”
Holness is the third Jamaican theatre personality to die in the last two weeks.
Comedian Garnett ‘Apache Chief’ Allen died last Thursday, while actor Calvin Morris, best known for his role as Mass Jasper from Lime Tree Lane transitioned two weeks ago.