Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Biography - Barry Reckord

by Marjorie H Morgan © 2015

Barry Reckord – Playwright, Producer; Director.  Born: Jamaica,   November 1926. Died: Jamaica, December 2011.

Barry Record was born in Kingston, Jamaica. As a young man he studied at Kingston College, and later he studied theology at St Peter's College, Kingston. From there he won a scholarship to read English at Cambridge University.  Reckord arrived in England in the 1950s to pursue these studies at Cambridge. While there, in 1958, his first play Flesh to a Tiger was produced at the Royal Court Theatre.

Barry Reckord wrote three plays that were produced in the 1960s: in 1960, at the Cheltenham Theatre, his work You in Your Small Corner   was produced; in 1963, at the Royal Court Theatre, London his play Skyvers was performed and in 1966 the same play was published in New English Dramatists Vol.9.  London in 1969 saw the production of the third of his plays in the decade, Don’t Gas The Blacks The production of these plays enabled several Black actors, including Cleo Laine, to get work in England.

In 1962 the play You in Your Small Corner was also put on at the Royal Court Theatre, then transferred to the West End, to the New Arts Theatre, and after a few months it was taken up by Granada Television in the ‘A Play for Today’ series. This was a pioneering achievement that not even the indigenous white British playwrights were achieving.

In the 1970s Reckord wrote two television dramas for the BBC: In The Beautiful Caribbean and Club Havana. He was also writing and directing plays in America during this time. In 1973 he received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship to Assist Research and Artistic Creation. Reckord's work was nationally recognised in Jamaica when he became the recipient of the Silver Musgrave Medal of the Institute if Jamaica - also awarded in 1973. 

Reckord’s plays remained relevant to theatre audiences in the 1980s and beyond when they were produced by youth theatres.  As an indication of his longevity and relevance in his writing, Skyvers was one of the key plays to be revisited, along with a pair of Harold Pinter plays, at the Royal Court Theatre, London in spring, 2006.Skyvers was also produced and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in December 2011 - a short time before Reckord died in Jamaica.

Reckord has had 14 stage and television plays produced in Britain and the Jamaica. Barry Reckord is considered, along with playwrights like Derek Walcott, to be among the most intelligent and questioning Caribbean playwrights focusing on societal issues in the early 1960s. Reckord was the most popular of the newly arrived playwrights of the time. His early playwriting work has provided a solid foundation to other Black playwrights since the 1950s.

Updated 07/02/12

1 comment:

  1. http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/jan/16/barry-reckord?CMP=EMCNEWEML1355


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