Arts & Culture

DREDZ at the control

By Aaliyah Cunningham
Observer writer
cunninghamc@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, April 11, 2019

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DREDZ Productions aims to become a household name by providing quality entertainment through innovative theatre. The five-year-old entity appears to be reaping dividends as its production, One Blood, has racked up a whopping 12 Actor Boy Awards nominations.

Rashiem Shepherd and Aisha Ritchie are co-founders of DREDZ Productions.

“Aisha and I came together to form DREDZ Productions because of our common interests and love for the stage. We thought that it would be good to showcase young, budding talent in Jamaica.A number of young persons, like ourselves, are waiting to be acknowledged in the creative industry. It's a hard industry to break into, as many Jamaicans are loyal to the familiar faces, but we thought it prudent to provide a platform for young talent to be identified. This is very important because we need it in order to keep Jamaican theatre alive,” Shepherd, 29, told the Jamaica Observer.

He and Ritchie, 30, are managing director and creative director, respectively. Twenty-five-year-old actor Oraine Meikle is also a principal in DREDZ.

Though the company started in 2014, it was not until January of last year that it was officially registered. Despite this, DREDZ Productions has a number of shows under its belt.

“We have produced and staged Undercover Craziness (directed by Kevin Sewell) and Special Cuts (directed by David Tulloch), which is currently playing at Phoenix Theatre every weekend until April 28. Some of our earlier productions include Making A Difference and Love on The Battlefield,” said Shepherd, who wrote all the plays.

Undercover Craziness received an Actor Boy nomination for Best Comedy in 2016 but lost to Frank The Freak.

This year was definitely a surprise for the team.

“I was not expecting 12 (nominations). We knew that One Blood was good but wow, we did not see so many nominations. We are privileged and humbled by it,” Shepherd said.

One Blood, written by Shepherd, is in the running for Best Production; Best Director (Tulloch); Best New Jamaican Play, which is a writer's awards (Shepherd); Best Actor in A Lead Role (Shepherd and Meikle); Best Actress in A Lead Role (Ritchie); Best Actor in A Supporting Role (Darren McKoy); Best Actress in A Supporting Role (Sherieka Knight); Best Drama; Best Original Score; Best Original Song ( Daddy, lyrics by Shepherd and music by Tulloch); and Best Sound Effects Design (Tulloch).

The Actor Boy Awards are scheduled for the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston on April 15.

Currently, DREDZ Productions does not have a home base. Its plays are staged at Phoenix Theatre in Kingston.


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