Toni-Kay Dawkins, grew up in theatre. She grew up watching the pantomime with wide eye wonder, watching the greats like Buddy Pouyat and Douglas Prout work their directorial magic with her father’s scripts. But in her wildest dreams she did not think that one day she would be directing a Basil Dawkins’ production, especially a script like ‘Toy Boy’ that has been tried and tested and established as one of his seminal plays.
On Saturday October 5th at 8:30 pm, the curtains of the Little Theatre opened on her artistic interpretation of this Jamaican classic and a new theatre director is officially on the scene. She is nervous about living up to the legacy of her father’s work but she is confident in his judgement of her ability and in the intelligence and talents her two award winning actors, Maylynn Walton and Christopher McFarlane and her technical team.
Toni-Kay has great respect for the process and the art form and has used theatre as a creative outlet to balance her other loves of working in marketing and television. She is currently a brand manager for Kirk Distributors and Co-Host of TVJ’s JR School’s Challenge Quiz. “Where theatre is concerned I did not know I would end up here, though in a lot of ways all the work I have done in this field has prepared me for this moment. From growing up around it not only through my father the playwright/producer but also through my mother who has worked as a set dresser and costume designer; to studying directing, film and acting at the Bennington College in Vermont, where I acted and directed extensively, to working front of house, backstage, as production manager and assistant director locally.
For Toni-Kay, one of the most important things has been recognizing that every actor prepares in a different way and it is her job to help them to realise her vision without stifling their point of view. “Directing for me is collaborative,” she says; “it is making sure that the actors are on the same page with me, that we are taking the journey of discovering and creating authentic characters together without the residue of former stagings and portrayals intruding.
Though “Toy Boy” has been staged a few times locally, I was only around for the original production and I remember nothing about it, neither have the current actors seen it. For us, this play is completely uncharted territory. I am also the first woman to direct “Toy Boy” and I believe this has allowed me to treat the fragile lead character and the subject matter of old love lost and new love discovered with the respect and sensitivity that she and her situation deserves.
“Opening my first play on the stage of the Little Theatre is an awesome privilege for me. This opportunity and process have taught me that I can live up to the confidence that others have in me and that I must open myself to new challenges and to respect everyone involved in the process including the audience. I want to help to provide the audience with a thoroughly enjoyable experience, so they know that we appreciate their time and money. I hope that this play will be the beginning of a long working relationship in theatre, it is after all our family business and therefore in my blood.
Basil Dawkins’ “Toy Boy” will run for the two weekends of October 5-6 & 11-13 at the Little Theatre and will feature as opening act the electrifying Ossie D & Stevie G in cabaret.