– says Sheron Cadogan-Taylor
By Jairo Rodrigues
“I am inspired by love for the arts and I also see drama as a way of speaking out on behalf of persons who do not have a platform or any means to do so. Through the arts, varying ills are portrayed and it gives audiences a mirror by which they can take a second look at issues that they might not have paid any or very little attention to,” Sheron Cadogan-Taylor said in an interview with The Scene.
Sheron was born and raised in Albouystown, a depressed south Georgetown community. She said they were poor but always happy. She enjoyed being sheltered and protected by her mother, her aunt and some older folks of the community as she was raised amid negative influences in the environment. “Even though the area was classified as bad, there were still some decent people…,” she said.
Being the eldest of her three brothers and one sister, her role was mentor, advisor and role model to her siblings. She was always expected to lead and set good examples.
Her father was a policeman; he died when she was just five years old. Having lost him at such a tender age, Sheron says, her mother was her biggest fan and has always been a source of encouragement to her. She considers her mother to be the most phenomenal woman she has ever encountered. “I always remember her steadfastness and strength of character in the face of adversity. My mother departed but would always remain in my heart,” she said.
She has always seen drama as a means of speaking on behalf of many who may not have the opportunity or the means to speak out about ills in society. “Through drama messages both positive and negative are remitted to audiences who might not have paid attention to some pertinent issue at some time or another,” she said. “When these ills are played out before their very eyes, and they watch and observe the consequences they are more readily accepted and noted. They may evoke much laughter, but at the end of it reflection is evident.”
Ever since she was a little girl she had always dreamed of one day being a dramatist, but there was one big hindrance – she was a shy little girl.
It was not until she entered Charlestown Secondary school that she gained the courage to take part in school plays. She became involved in dance class and competitive sports like Circle Tennis, and in Athletics which she said, helped her to be more outspoken and expressive; realising that if she never spoke up, she would always be taken for granted. After leaving secondary school she decided to try modelling for a while, but that was short lived when she realised that was not where her heart was.
Later on, she attended the Critchlow Labour College (CLC) and the University of Guyana where she graduated with a Diploma in Public Management.
While she was at CLC, someone saw her in a skit and advised her to join the Theatre Guild. After some thought and deliberation, which took about a year, she joined.
“The first night I was at the Guild I was shockingly cast to play a dancer under the direction of the late Andre Sobryan, in the play The Rope And The Cross, and from there my acting career took off,” she recalled.
Her first lead role brought her the Best New Comer and the Best Actress Runner-Up awards together with nomination for the Best Actress at the Annual Theatre Guild Awards (TGA).
She has since appeared in award winning plays such as Till Ah Find A Place 1, 2 and 3, Watch De Ride, Somebody Gon Horn Yuh, Marriage After Death, Is We Big People, Why Didn’t He Ask Cora, Stamping, 83 Million Gees, Right Bed Wrong Husband, and “The Link Show”, just to name a few earning several nominations in the process. She claimed the Best Supporting Actress Award for her appearance in Somebody Gon Horn Yuh. She was loved for her role in the play Pandora’s Box thereby opening an opportunity for her to travel to Trinidad to perform there. She also featured in a film, A New Beginning. She was part of the longest running local sitcom “Agree To Disagree” playing the much loved role of ‘Mother J’. She also featured in the radio serial drama “Merundoi”.
Her best performance she believes was in Why Didn’t He Ask Cora, directed by Kwesi Oginga. She played the role of a 16-year-old blind girl, who was raped by a friend of the family. Recollecting the play, she said, “I remember sitting on the stairs at home day after day observing a blind woman who lived a short distance away. I was pushed so hard by the director that when I finally captured the character it took me weeks after the final performance to let her go.” She was nominated for Best Actress that year and critics called the performance “flawless”, “exceptional” and “impeccable”. She did not win the award but the reviews made her feel, “like I was indeed the Best Actress for that year.”
Sheron has had a great run on stage and credits this to many special persons whom she believes have impacted her and stimulated her greatest performances. Working under the direction of and together with persons such as Kwesi Oginga, Jermonica Walcott, Ras Michael, Ronald Hollingsworth, Ron Robinson, Howard Lorimer, Margaret Lawrence, Desiree Edghill, Jennifer Thomas, Fitzroy Tyrrell, Henry Rodney, just to name a few, propelled her to be the best that she can be, in whatever role she played.
Sheron now enjoys directing and producing under the umbrellas of Horizon Arts Production of which she is a founder member and the Theatre Arts Group. Within the past year two plays were stage in Antigua and Barbuda under her direction.
When asked to speak on Guyana not having modern and enforceable copyright law, and how she would try to improve the national drama stage, she said “I personally feel it is time for us to have those copyright laws passed and enforced, because we have a lot of artists who are placed at a major disadvantage because they cannot properly market their work and earn from it. When I first came to theatre the discipline, the commitment and of course the entire industry was in a very good place. The standards were very high… We have watched with great pain as it slowly began to lose its grip…. But within the recent years, we noticed that it is on a path to recovery. We just have to make genuine efforts to place it on a steady path, where we can stimulate growth not only at the box office, but in the quality of productions. As a writer/director/producer, it is my intention not to succumb to the norm that has become accepted over the past years in theatre, but to encourage and foster the disciplines that made theatre what it used to be.”
The married mother of four says she enjoys theatre and advises young ones who want to get involved to first recognise their reason for being in theatre and to set certain standards for themselves. “Like any other thing, theatre has its positives and negatives, and if one sees himself or herself as being serious about theatre, and follows the discipline required for being a great artist, then the rewards can be invaluable,” she said.
Apart from drama, Sheron enjoys worshipping, family outings, singing and ballroom dancing. She has been nominated for Best Actress and Best Director in the recently concluded National Drama Festival. The awards ceremony was scheduled to be held last evening.