Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 6th 2016 Contents SUNDAY,
Abeo Jackson says the stage has
always been in her blood. The
producer, actor and dancer jokes
she danced in the womb, as her mother
was a founding member of Les Enfants
Dance Co in San Fernando.
Jackson s first appearance on stage
was with the company at age three. She
began doing drama monologues at age
seven and came second in Aunty Hazel
Ward Redman s Twelve and Under Show,
under the tutelage of family friend Wayne
Daniels. She continued her training while
at Naparima Girls High School.
In 2003, Jackson went to Dillard University
in New Orleans, to study mass communications
and theatre arts. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005,
she graduated from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania
with a degree in theatre and dance with an emphasis
on acting and directing, with minors in mass com-
munication and dance.
She came back to T&T in 2007 to be with her
mother after her grandmother died. Jackson said she
got bored after less than a week.
She went to work with Raymond Choo Kong,
working backstage for a few shows before appearing
in Nasty Little Secrets later that year. She credits
Choo Kong with teaching her about production in
a T&T context, "because learning it in a classroom
in the States is one thing but our market and industry
is so screwed up that it was like learning from scratch."
She formed her own production company, Abeo
Jackson Productions, in 2012. Her first play, Dinner
with Friends, flopped badly.
"I didn t market it as a ring down bacchanal com-
edy, which is what the Trinidad palette likes."
Her next endeavour, Peepshow---in partnership
with Nikki Crosby and Gregory Singh---sold out after
being marketed as a "sexy, all-female comedy."
Jackson went on to do 50 Shades of Gravy, Act
like a Lady, Think Like a Ho, and Man Cyah Take
Jackson said comedy was one of the most difficult
styles of theatre and isn t given enough credit in
T&T. "Comedy has a timing and if your rhythm is
off, you will fall flat. So people like Raymond, Penny
(Spencer), Richard (Ragoobarsingh) and Nikki who
have mastered comedy in this country, they re genius-
es, and I ve been privileged to work with and learn
and absorb from all of them."
Her first effort this year was alongside rapso group
3canal with Outta De Box, the 2016 iteration of their
annual show. It blends music, theatre and dance.
She co-produced the show s south run at Sapa. "The
Trinidadian audience will tell you, We tired seeing
the same people on the stage and allyuh only doing
sex comedies, etc, but quite frankly they make it
quite difficult for you to sell them anything else,"
"I was happy we had probably more than a quar-
ter-house each night and people loved it, but at the
same time people say they want new theatre expe-
riences but make it extremely hard for you to market
it." She was glad the venture made enough to pay
those involved. "I have no illusions about the fact
that this is a job and people are taking a risk when
they come on board with you with projects like this,
so their time and their talent must be respected."
Along with commercial theatre, Jackson also does
musicals with JCS Productions, and sings, dances
and choreographs with 3canal.
Jackson is choreographing another JCS Productions
musical, Altar Boys, which opens April 7. "I ve been
so fortunate to be able to move seamlessly between
all these groupings, because a lot of artistes in T&T
don t do that."
Jackson critiqued the theatre industry for being
segmented. "We pit ourselves against each other
unnecessarily which makes no sense because this
industry is too small for that nonsense."
She said there was need for further and continuing
training for all practitioners. "It irritates me greatly
when I see people on stage who are not ready, and
are being given accolades. In Trinidad we have a real
fear of telling people that they re not good enough
and need to do more work."
Jackson has also worked in media and was co-
creator and creative producer of the talk show Cup
of Joe, but left "because I stopped enjoying it due
to the general chaos and unprofessionalism of the
She also worked for Star 94.7 FM as a radio
announcer. "Working in theatre and being a performer
all my life has influenced the type of honest, organic
radio/TV personality that I have ended up becoming.
I can t be anybody else but myself."
A major motor vehicle accident on a highway two
years ago that left her injured changed her perspective
on life. "You never know when you re just not going
to be here and if you re not passionate about what
you re doing, you need to be strong enough to walk
away, because it doesn t make sense making yourself
miserable. You re going to end up compromising
yourself, your art and your own standards. You have
to know that there s a time for everything, you just
have to wait, watch and be ready and when the
opportunity comes, you grab it."
Abeo Jackson plays a Black Jab in
Outta De Box, 3canal Show 2016.
ALVIN HENRY/ABEO JACKSON
It's in her blood
Working in theatre and
being a performer all my life
has influenced the type of
honest, organic radio/TV
personality that I have ended
up becoming. I can't be
anybody else but myself.
'Duppy' tackles social
issues with humour
with London label ---Page B38
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