September 16, 2009
Trevor Rhone dies from heart attack
Howard Campbell, Star Writer
Trevor Rhone, arguably Jamaica's greatest playwright, is dead.
The 69-year-old Rhone died yesterday at a Kingston hospital, after suffering a heart attack.
The husky-voiced Rhone is best known for a series of plays that are ranked among the finest in local theatre, including Smile Orange, Old Story Time and Two Can Play. He also co-wrote the screenplay for The Harder They Come, the 1972 low-budget film that introduced Jamaican pop culture to an international audience.
Neville Rhone, his older brother, said they were together Monday at the Bellas Gate All Saints Church in St Catherine. They were raised in Bellas Gate district where Rhone had recently purchased land and helped start the McSyl Basic School.
"He said it (the basic school) was a dream come true for him," Neville Rhone told THE STAR.
"He said wherever our mother and aunt are, they are pleased."
The McSyl Basic School is named after Rhone's mother, Rosomond McCalla, and his aunt Mercella 'Syl' McCalla.
Playwright/commentator Barbara Gloudon, who knew Rhone for more than 40 years, said local theatre has lost "an important figure".
unusual and noble
She added: "Playwrights are scarce, there are not a lot of them around like actors. So, when you had a Trevor Rhone working as a full-time playwright, it was something unusual and noble."
Rhone was a past student of Beckford and Smith High School (later St Jago High School) in St Catherine. He was involved in British theatre during the 1960s. Returning to Jamaica, he wrote the comedy Smile Orange which starred Charles Hyatt and also helped complete the screenplay for The Harder They Come.
In 1974, Rhone's film version of Smile Orange, starring Carl Bradshaw, was released in Jamaica. In a 2003 interview, Rhone said he wanted to make a statement with the film, which deals with the prejudices of Jamaica's tourist industry.
"It was very political, it looked at the Jamaican worker and his guests from the north. It also looked at the resentment black people had towards each other," he said.
Rhone worked on other films, such as the 1988 drama Milk And Honey, which won a Canadian Genie Award, and One Love, a 2003 romance flick that starred singers Ky-Mani Marley and Cherine Anderson.
It is his theatrical legacy that earned him most acclaim in Jamaica.
Gloudon said Old Story Time is her favourite.
"That play shows the importance of respect for elders, something we seem to be missing in Jamaica today. Still very timely," she said.
In 2003, Rhone staged the autobiographical one-man play, Bellas Gate Boy, which was nominated for an Actor Boy Award, Jamaica's version of America's Tony Awards.
In 2007, the veteran playwright earned a Gleaner Honour Award for his contribution to the arts.
Trevor Rhone is survived by three children and a grandchild.