Sat | Feb 16, 2019

Theatre informs 'Your Empowerment GPA'

Published:Tuesday | January 23, 2018 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke/ Gleaner Writer
Michael Holgate
Conroy Wilson

Conroy Wilson and Michael Holgate have learnt much from ASHE and have used their 25 years each with the performing arts ensemble to also learn a lot more. Now ASHE's executive

and artistic director, have encapsulated much of that insight and practical experience from the stage as well as running numerous workshops across Jamaica and the Caribbean in the book, Your Empowerment GPA. It was officially presented to the public yesterday evening at the Regional Headquarters of the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Mona.

Among Holgate's recent projects are directing GARVEY The Musical (for which he also wrote songs and did choreography) and Forbidden Fruit, the musical which capped off the work of one cohort in the University of Technology, Jamaica's (UTech), Fi Wi Jamaica Masters-in-Residence project.




Tracing ASHE's genesis to its current celebration of a quarter century of activity, Holgate told The Gleaner, that initially the organisation " ... was doing a whole lot of theatre", as well as Jamaican folk songs. "We were having at least one season per year," he said.

Over time that focus changed, especially after the death of key ASHE figure Joseph Robinson, and the decision was taken to apply its principles to workshops. So, starting in about 2005, ASHE visited as many institutions as possible, including schools. Theatre is a part of the workshops, as Holgate said ASHE takes the EIC (Excite, Involve, Commit) approach.

In turn, the workshops helped inform Your Empowerment GPA, providing Holgate and Wilson with issues which needed resolution and a chance to apply techniques in real life situations. Now Your Empowerment GPA puts it all together in format that, Holgate said, is more widely accessible as not everyone will be able to attend an ASHE workshop.

Later in 2018, theatre will again play a direct role in an ASHE project.

"We are planning an education festival later this year," Holgate said, adding that participants will be asked to do their own skits. "Our approach is to use the performing arts to educate and also entertain. The book exemplifies that energy and spirit as well. It is culturally relevant," Holgate said.