Artistic Director and CEO Talawa Theatre Company (2006–present)
I’ve relished a steep learning curve and non-stop challenges at Talawa. Now I know how to think strategically, how to produce cost effectively, and the joys of leading a team of strong individuals.I shall miss it when I leave in 2012 to set up on my own company.
I was a playwright, a tutor ( teaching second-year students how to create and write a radio soap at Goldsmiths) and a writer of radio drama. I was also a critic for Radio 4 and the World Service and, because you’re never sure when the next job might come along, began training as a psychotherapist.
Information Attache Jamaican High Commission (1998–2001)
My main job was at the Jamaican High Commission but, of course, I was also writing for the World Service and Blue Mountain Productions, and working as a critic.
My son and I moved from Jamaica back to the UK in 1993 with four suitcases and £3,000 (the exchange rate was rubbish). Thank goodness for Radio 4 drama: it gave me work and plenty of encouragement. One commission, ‘One Bright Child’, won a radio drama award. I also did all kinds of jobs – everything from behind the counter at WH Smith (until a customer volunteered to show me the razor blade in his pocket) and typing pager messages at Vodapage (noisy pub in background. Message says: Working late. Not sure when I’ll be home).
PR officer, Information Officer, Swim Coach (1979–1993)
I set up a production company in Jamaica, writing and producing daily radio serials, writing plays and AV scripts. I was also a swim coach – I swam for Jamaica and loved the water. Striding up and down the pool deck was a great antidote to crouching over a hot keyboard. There were full-time stints too: as PR officer of the University of the West Indies and Information Officer for the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica. I spent time up to my ears in the peat morass near the beautiful Negril Beach for the latter. As a production manager at a commercial media house there were midnight edits, dawn starts and wild helicopter rides.
Publisher’s Rep and Production Assistant (1976–1979)
I was Publisher’s rep for an educational publisher – not for long – and production assistant in the departments of public affairs and theatre in the national broadcasting station. I had my son and wrote my first play.
Student Cambridge University (1973–1976)
I was awarded the annual Jamaica scholarship and studied archaeology and anthropology at Girton College, Cambridge. There I won college academic prizes, earned my full blue and was made ladies captain of the University swim team, which got me permission to have a car in Cambridge. I was rubbish at cycling. Three unforgettable but often very stressful years.