First and foremost, I would like to thank God for providing me with the physical strength to complete this project. Secondly, I thank the examiners from the Caribbean Examination Council to have given me the research to complete. Also, the researcher would like to that Dr. Nolma Coley Agard for allowing me to interview her for the purpose of this SBA. Finally, I would like to thank my teacher for the supervision and guidance I needed to accomplish this task.
I was filled with excitement to interview such an inspiration to Theatre Arts. I chose Mrs. Agard as I am intrigued about her contribution to Theatre Arts in Jamaica, her works and achievements. Mrs. Agard uses Theatre Arts as a teaching tool for students who may not learn well through the orthodox method. Also she contributed to the establishment of Theatre Arts as a CSEC subject while working with the Ministry of Education, Jamaica. I chose her to uncover how she came up with these great ideas and how she accomplished such tasks.
DR. NOLMA COLEY-AGARD
On the 16th of January, 2013, a group of students students from the DeCarteret College fifth form Theatre Arts group journeyed to the Institute of Arts and Culture (I.A.C) on 31 Grove Road in Mandeville, Manchester, to meet with and interview Theatre practitioner, Dr. Nolma Coley-Agard for the purpose of this SBA.
Teacher, Playwright, Actress, Psychologist, Lecturer, Drama Therapist, Educational Director and co-founder of the Institute of Arts and Culture (I.A.C) are the various professions in which the noble Dr. Nolma Coley-Agard has done throughout her life.
Born and raised in Brampton, St. Elizabeth, Dr. Nolma Coley-Agard attended Brampton All-age school. She was introduced to drama through her church (All Souls Anglican Church) and her school. From an early age, Dr. Agard became interested in Theatre Arts. She participated in her local church plays and thus developed a strong liking for acting. Dr. Agard attained her talent and interest in drama from her father: a local playwright and actor. Dr. Agard’s love for the theatre never stopped there, as she wanted to pursue a career in Theatre Arts. After becoming a teacher of English and English Literature, Dr. Agard went to further her education at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. Later, she received a scholarship to England to further her studies in Drama. Additionally, she studied psychology and drama therapy.
Throughout the years of teaching English Literature, Dr. Agard didn’t do much acting; instead she started writing poems and plays. Teaching at St. Hugh’s High School, she developed a genius method of incorporating drama to fully bring out the concept of Literature as she believes that “drama and Literature are linked”.
Her life in education never stopped there, she later became an education officer at the Ministry of Education, Jamaica. At this point she began advocating for drama to become an official subject. In 1983, she commented on “The Teaching of Theatre Arts in Jamaican / Caribbean Schools” issue by preparing a document to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), where she evaluated the benefits of Theatre Arts in education and in 1999, the Director General of UNESCO launched an International Appeal for the promotion of Arts Education and creativity in Schools. After this appeal, Caribbean arts educators swiftly assembled to fabricate the first CSEC Theatre Arts syllabus. According to the Gleaner newspaper article, “Participants praise drama workshop”, dated November 17, 2000 Dr. Agard carried out a drama workshop where members from all around the Caribbean participated. This workshop was to promote drama and compile the curriculum for drama as a CSEC subject. Thus, Theatre Arts became an official CSEC subject.
“I was indeed honoured to be asked by the Ministry of Education in Barbados to sit on that panel which was chaired as well as propelled by Dr Nolma Coley-Agard, former curriculum officer with responsibility for drama in the Ministry of Education in Jamaica.” Yvette Meekes, representative from the Ministry of Education, Barbados, said. I am happy she lobbied for the implementation of Theatre Arts in schools because I can attest to its benefits; since doing Theatre Arts I am more rounded, outspoken and disciplined.
From the interview, Dr. Agard informed us on her achievements even after leaving the Ministry of Education. Using drama as a means of teaching students started a long time ago as Dr. Agard got the idea from her mentor Dennis Scott. She took the initiative to create the first school in Jamaica to ever use the arts as a teaching tool for children who don’t cope well with the traditional method of teaching. She founded The Institute of Arts and Culture (I.A.C) in 2007 where she integrated the arts in subject areas to make them more understandable. She has also used drama to teach students who have special disabilities.
Dr Agard has informed us that her goals are not completed. She hopes to build the first Theatre in Mandeville and to expand her institution, making it even more comfortable and more productive for its forthcoming students. She also wishes to remove the orthodox subjects from her Institution and transform it to a performing and visual arts school. Indeed she has accomplished much, however, Dr. Agard admits that she would have never been so accomplished if she didn’t have Dennis Scott and Lloyd Record as her role models.
Throughout her life, Dr. Agard has written and produced many plays and books. She has written over twenty-five plays. Some of her works include:
Robed in Black
Weeping for Judas
Call him Jesus
Dr. Agard mostly writes biblical plays and plays surrounding issues affecting the middle and upper class women; she writes mainly serious drama. She establishes that writing a play isn’t very difficult as long as one has the idea; it usually takes her about between 4-8 weeks to complete a play.
“As a subject, Theatre Arts help you to develop confidence, discipline and aids you to excel in English and Literature”. Drama is vitally important to everyone. Dr. Agard however is concerned about the upcoming generation abandoning Theatre Arts. She believes that teaching drama in schools will help to keep Jamaica’s tradition intact. She also believes that we can use technology to further promote drama through advertising.
Dr Agard is an intelligent, sophisticated individual who has inspired me to pursue a career in drama. Her fierce determination only motivates me to work harder to accomplish my goals as she did. She has proven to me that a career in drama can be a very rewarding one. Dr. Agard must be commended for her continuous work in the development of Theatre Arts throughout the Caribbean. Her commitment to preserving and promoting drama is extraordinary. It was a pleasure interviewing and doing this research paper on such a phenomenal individual.
Institute of Arts and Culture (I.A.C). 30 Grove Road. Mandeville, Manchester. Jamaica