Theatre legend Buddy Pouyat dies at 90Tuesday, October 05, 2021
BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
GERALD “Buddy” Pouyat, whose creativity helped shape the modern Jamaican art movement, died in St Andrew on September 29 at age 90. No cause of death has been given but the actor, dancer and director had been ill for some time.
Pouyat was involved in nearly every facet of the arts, dating back to 1950 when he was an original member of the Ivy Baxter Dance Group. He appeared as an actor in several pantomimes and plays, and directed a number of plays as well.
“Buddy was larger than life. He was into all aspects of Jamaican culture; he really believed in Jamaican culture,” said playwright Basil Dawkins who knew Pouyat for over 35 years.
Dawkins first saw Pouyat as an actor in Masquerade, a play by Jim Nelson, in the early 1980s. He was instantly impressed by his timing which he described as “amazing”.
Pouyat eventually recommended Dawkins' play, Champagne and Skyjuice, to a theatre promoter in Grand Cayman. That gesture helped develop a strong personal and professional bond that saw Pouyat referring to Dawkins at times as his son or brother.
He also directed several of Dawkins' plays including What The Hell is Happening to us Dear, Feminine Justice, Toy Boy and Hot Spot. Dawkins was a regular at the Saturday morning cultural gatherings at Pouyat's St Andrew home, which ran for over 30 years.
It was the meeting place for Jamaica's arts and entertainment community, attracting well known academics from The University of the West Indies, singers, poets and musicians.
Film-maker Lennie Little-White attended some of those weekly sessions which were hosted by Pouyat and his wife Cissy. He said Pouyat was the real deal.
“He was down to earth, jovial – nothing bothered him. He never walked into a room and said, 'I am Buddy Pouyat.' By his deeds you knew him,” Little-White told the Jamaica Observer.
The Kingston-born Pouyat helped organise the musical bandwagon that helped spur the People's National Party's successful 1972 General Election campaign. He was integral in selecting the artistes who performed, including Junior Byles, Ken Boothe and Max Romeo.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange paid tribute to Pouyat, saying he “devoted his long life to the cultural arts”.
In a statement, Grange noted that, “Buddy leaves behind a long list of accomplishments in the cultural arts, among them a major contribution to the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) as chairman of committees which included The Festival Queen and Popular Song.”
Buddy Pouyat is survived by his wife, son Michael, and grandchildren.