Don’t forget theatre in entertainment reopening, says Dufton Shepherd | Entertainment

Events over the past year and a half have hardly been anything to joke about but Dufton ‘Duffy’ Shepherd has been keeping his head above water though theatre appears to be drowning.

“I can speak as a stand-up comedian who hosts and produces his own show; persons who have injected all their life into that space were devastated as everything went to a stop. No pause, no slow down, just stop, and are still heavily affected. The earnings have stopped but the bills have not, in some cases they are increasing,” he told THE STAR.

Shepherd said many persons in theatre have left the country to seek other opportunities, while others are looking to other sources of income which has also impacted the number of persons competing for the same jobs.

“But I have to give thanks for my blessings. I do some radio and TV, and every now and then I get a call for a virtual hosting or performance,” he said.

Sit-down with the powers that be

Shepherd continued, “I would definitely love to be in that sit-down with the powers that be to work out how theatre can re-open, because I really think whatever formula can be implemented for the entertainment sector, it can be easier if we just look at how theatre is operated.”

He said that when it comes to the entertainment sector, music has always been “the golden child ” while theatre appears to be a step back and stand-up comedy even further behind.

“Stand-up comedy is like the third cousin, them not sure how we related but we are. There has been a push, or facilities have been manoeuvred and customised for music, but you don’t see anything for theatre. It’s not something we are sitting down obsessing over and we don’t have anything against music,” he said. “We would just like the opportunity to move forward with our craft and if you want to move forward with opening the entertainment sector, the performing arts, theatre and stand-up comedy, even the acoustic performances, the protocols can be enforced a lot easier than a party or live concert. When you look at it, the audience is most at risk. However, theatres already have designated seating areas and there is not much movement until an intermission or time to go home.”

With the different approach to his now online Slightly Unhinged show, he believes he has discovered a blueprint that could benefit theatre as the Government considers the reopening of the entertainment sector.

“When I do Slightly Unhinged people nuh move and it is not only a show but a production, sanitising the space, microphones and some movement when we have to change angles. It’s a small audience but it works because it is not a party where people are moving around the place and we follow protocols,” he said.

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