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Aston Cooke’s Goes from the Stage to the Page

Aston Cooke's Country Duppy and Jonkanoo Jamboree

Award winning playwright Aston Cooke has released two of his most culturally intriguing plays in a new book. Country Duppy and Jonkanoo Jamboree is an entertaining and engaging foray into the vagaries of Jamaican traditional and contemporary lifestyles.

Country Duppy is a comedy which tells the story of a rural village that is haunted by the ghost of a miserly old woman while the villagers argue over her property. Meanwhile, Jonkanoo Jamboree, a pantomimesque musical, focuses on the quarrel between a group of informal settlers and an affluent community that wishes to evict them. The backgrounds of both plays are threaded with themes of Jamaican folklore. For Country Duppy there is the classic Jamaican duppy story, while Jonkanoo Jamboree utilizes the more colourful backdrop of the jonkunnu parade.

‘They were my favourites,’ Cooke admitted in explaining his selection of the plays for publication. ‘And they had already been given a stamp of approval,’ he added, referring to the onstage success of Country Duppy and the award copped by Jonkanoo Jamboree in the 2009 JCDC National Literary Competition.

Country Duppy was first staged in 2000, with the formidable cast of Leonie Forbes, Christopher ‘Johnny’ Daley and Tulip Reid, among others. Jonkanoo Jamboree, performed more recently in 2013 featured the University Players supported by veterans Fabian Thomas and Nadean Rawlins.

‘I thought I was done with edits!’ Cooke exclaimed as he described the publication process. ‘I didn’t expect the amount of work needed to rewrite plays for reading,’ he confessed good-naturedly.

However Cooke is pleased to have his plays in print.

'I’ve been published before you know,’ he joked, ‘on stage, that is!’

A prolific playwright, Cooke has written such household names as Concubine and Jamaica 2 Rahtid, and co-wrote the popular television series Oliver at Large. His most recent delivery, Internet Affair, concluded its run last year to mixed reviews.

Despite his onstage accomplishments, Cooke revealed that it felt good to have his plays down on paper, adding that the print medium was more accessible to audiences across the Caribbean. Country Duppy and Jonkanoo Jamboree would be particularly meaningful to students of Caribbean and Jamaican cultural forms but, much like the original plays, the book is intended to appeal to wider audiences.

Country Duppy and Jonkanoo Jamboree is published by AuthorHouse and is available online from the AuthorHouse Bookstores as well as booksellers Amazon and Barnes and Noble.