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Fallen Giants: Kingston's Forgotten Theatres

Fallen Giants: Kingston's Forgotten Theatres

Fallen Giants: Kingston's Forgotten Theatres

By on - Photos by Odile Meylan - Comment

A journey through the remnants of a lost culture.

Palace, Majestic, Ritz, Queen's, Splendid... What a sad irony resounds today in the twinkling names of these fallen giants, lying in their gone glory along the dismaying roads of Kingston's inner cities.

Kingston Theaters - Ambassador

These sunken ships are now made of rust and dust, attacked on every front by the luxuriant nature, threading its way between every stone. Ghost town visions, in the very heart of the city. First hand witnesses of a unique musical adventure, and tragic symbols of something gone terribly wrong.

But if you listen carefully, the breeze in those abandonned places still whispers the voices of the past. Downtown, in the Palace, you can hear them, Higgs & Wilson, the Blues Busters, Stranger Cole singing their hearts out to steal the show and the love of the crowd on Vere John's Opportunity hour. In the Ambassador, in the heart of Trench Town, you can still feel the Wailers shaking the walls, not knowing yet they would shake the whole world. And everywhere, in these parts of town where you don't want to lose your way, you can hear the sounds of the people from all over town, standing in a loud queue on a "double bill" monday night. For one ticket, a double share of John Wayne or Bruce Lee...

Kingston Theaters - Majestic

It's been thirty years, but the laughters and curse words are still echoing. Not a surprise really, we're in the land of dub.

A few of them managed to stay alive. Most of the survivors redeemed their sinful past and became churches. Their busy day is sunday now, and it's been a good the last unpleased visitor flung a bottle across the place.

The jewel of the theatres, the Ward is still there, trying to fullfill its mission. Old and tired, full of wrinkles and scars, but he's still standing. But the city has changed, the visitors are scarce. Nowadays, most of it's public is way too scared to venture in this side of town.

Wandering around these desolate places, is a strange and powerfull experience. There's the emotion to see, and breath the air of the heart of Jamaican music history. The unique feeling when you stand on those deserted stages, where imagining how it used to be is so much easier than anywhere else. But when the passion for jamaican music is the force that brought you there, you will also be struck by the sadness to behold their state. It's the very cultural heritage of Jamaican people, the craddle of this fascinating musical adventure, that is slowly disappearing this way. When the last witness of those nights when you weren't affraid to walk down Maxfield Avenue will be gone, who will tell the younger ones that things can be different from what they have become ?


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