Angelo Lascelles with Varia Williams in a scene from Crop Over Evening Of Folk. (Lennox Devonish.)
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Angelo Lascelles loves theatre. He loves the lights, the sets, the interaction among the cast and the audiences and more importantly, exploring different lifestyles.
With memories still fresh of his lead role as Young Man at the Crop Over Evening Of Folk, the 26-year-old actor sat down with EASY for a chat about his career and what he hopes to achieve in the years to come.
During the 2014-2015 academic year he taught theatre arts at his alma mater, The Lester Vaughan School, but as he said, “ultimately” his interest is in film.
“I want to be directing and producing; at some point in the future I will make that transition from performing to directing and producing,” he said.
“My love for theatre came at Lester Vaughan actually. I did theatre when I started fourth form, I was one of the first students to do theatre arts and when I started I didn’t know what it was. I said ‘let me see what it’s about’. It was a curiosity more so than anything else and I got to do it, loved it and did it at [Barbados] Community College. From then on, I have been performing.”
One fringe benefit he appreciates is that acting is a “very good stress reliever”. It does not matter what’s going on in your life when you go into that rehearsal space,” he said. “For me personally and I’ve heard cast members say that you pretty much forget everything in your life for those moments when you are rehearsing and performing.”
Having been cast in Sir Hilary Beckles’ No Country For A White Hero and in other roles, his favourite to date is Young Man, the revolutionary, which he portrayed in Sounds of Resistance, Echoes Of Change on Crop Over folk night.
“I say that because I’ve often played characters that were teachers or head masters, persons who were older than me, mature, of a particular profession, a particular socio-economic background. This one presented a challenge for me where I had to pretty much discard my typical spine which is very erect and adopt one that was very loose.
“I had to take on a character that he was about do what you have to do and if it falls through it falls through, you move on. He was always on a hustle. Me personally, I like order, I like to plan. That was my favourite and I guess the intensity … it was my most intense play,” Angelo said.
He took on the characteristics of each person he depicted that night – Bussa, Clement Payne, Errol Barrow and Marcus Garvey. So intense and involved was he that he cried during the delivery of Barrow’s Mirror Image May 1986 speech.
“That was true. That wasn’t acting. The night before [the performance, dress rehearsal] I broke down during How Many More and I could not get through the Barrow speech. So, I had to prepare myself for that. I got through the Barrow speech and at the end of it, that was it,” he said, before chuckling at the memory.
“At that time I felt the pressure of the character. It was not only the pressure of the character Young Man now realising it wasn’t about me it was about all the other people who’ve got all the other stories. That, along with the frustration that Barrow would have felt at that moment.
“… The emotion actually took over. It was the first time I have ever experienced that so there was nothing I could have done to prepare myself for it,” he said. What did he take away from the pivotal moment in the production when he realised that he was responsible for the lives of others?
“That we must look beyond our personal ambitions. They’re a lot of things that we take for granted that many of us don’t know where it began and for me, it would be really paying attention and really appreciating what I have available to me. Even today, they are people in countries who don’t have access to what I have. Right now they might be people sitting in a restaurant wondering if a bomb is going to go off, if they’re going to have time to go back home.
“The Barrow speech, I can’t tell you how it affected me, but it affected me. … All through rehearsals the first time it ever hit me in a major way would have been dress rehearsal night and then the Friday night,” he recalled above the din of the eatery where the interview took place.
There were other emotional moments during the production particularly the line “I’m a hustler, I ain’t nuh leader” and he said he did not understand why “because there is no one depending on me for anything. But when I thought about having a grandmother and two little sisters whose livelihood are determined by what I can do, make money ’cause I’m the only person in the house working, it made me emotional”.
There is a lull on the theatre scene after Crop Over and Angelo is optimistic that one day this will change.
“There is room for improvement in theatre in Barbados. I think there should be some way for reputable production companies to get the necessary funding to put on productions and be able to build from there.
“The challenge with that is that … if I decide to stage a play, some people know me as an actor and they will say ‘I don’t know who this Angelo is’ and then you don’t have the audience and therefore you don’t have the returns,” he said.
Despite that hurdle, the young actor has made up his mind that he is in this field for the long haul and in the same vein as the freedom fighters he portrayed during the July production, he will rise up and be counted and be a catalyst for change. (Green Bananas Media)