Louis Marriott—

‘A great, great loss to Jamaican theater,” is how colleague Lenford Samuels described Monday’s passing of actor, director, writer and broadcaster Louis Marriott.

Marriott was ill for some time and had been living at St Margaret’s Home in Kingston. He was 81.

Samuels recalled that Marriott had not been writing for the past three years. His last production was Bedward, an early work which originated as The Shepherd in 1960 and reappeared as Bedward in 1984.

He was born May 22, 1935, on the Old Pound Road, St Andrew, and educated at Jamaica College.

Louis Marriott

Louis Marriott

In addition to his literary work, he was a government public relations officer in the late 1950’s; editor of Public Opinion, 1960-62; press officer, first anniversary of the Jamaica Independence Festival, 1963; a BBC radio writer and producer, 1970-71; director and press secretary to former Prime Minister Michael Manley, during the turbulent 1970’s.

His first play was Public Mischief (1957), followed by The Shepherd (1960), A Pack of Jokers (1978), More Jokers (1980), The New Jokers (1981), and Office Chase (1982).

Salmon, who heads Jambiz International, thinks that despite his other endeavors, Marriott will best be remembered for the theater.

“He was one of the foremost writers, and among the stalwarts of the local theater. He is probably the last of the great writers of that era,” said Salmon.

He added that there is a drought of good, young playwrights in Jamaica, which raises questions about Jamaican theater.

“The theater has lost a giant who will not pass this way again… his stubborn attention to principle before any other consideration could at times be very wearying, even though you fully understood his stance on a matter… so he would prevail,” actress Grace McGhie, one of Marriott’s contemporaries, posted on WhatsApp Theater Group.

Another contemporary, actress/broadcaster Fae Ellington, wrote that Marriott was the driving force behind the Jamaica Association of Dramatic Artists (JADA).

Fae Ellington

Fae Ellington

“It’s a shame that ALL of us have allowed JADA to fail,” she commented.

“Louis’s plays and revues commanded full houses in Jamaica from the late ’70s and several years after. When I say FULL HOUSES I mean just that,” she said.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia “Babsy” Grange, also paid tribute to Marriott, noting that he was “a multi-talented and creative man who had contributed much to Jamaica’s culture”.

Olivia "Babsy" Grange

Olivia “Babsy” Grange

“His memory will live on in family and friends, but also in the books and many plays that he wrote, including Bedward, which is widely regarded as a Jamaican and Caribbean classic. Louis Marriott was, truly, a stalwart of Jamaican theater,” Grange said.

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