Conversation with Jamaican actress, Marsha Campbell

Jamaican actress Marsha Campbell plays the role of young wife Donna in Aston Cooke’s latest romantic comedy “Internet Affair”.  A graduate of Ardenne High School and the University of the West Indies, Marsha has twice represented the island at the Caribbean Schools’ Drama Festival in Guyana and St. Lucia.  Marsha caught the attention of theatre audiences and critics alike when she appeared in Hall Anthony Ellis’ epic drama “1888”. She also appeared in Minnette Shield’s Trapped and played roles in Cooke’s “Concubine” and “Me and mi Chapsie”. Here is our conversation with Marsha Campbell.

Tell us how you got into acting and performing?
I have been performing from a very tender age. My dad is a musician, singer and song writer (Sil Bell) and has participated in both JCDC Festival and Gospel Festival competitions. I remember times when my brothers and I would perform for the neighbours and put on our very own “festival”. We would also accompany our dad to the studio and even did back-up vocals for him. I have fond memories of that time as we were beaming with excitement. I also had the privilege of representing my primary school (Portsmouth Primary) at Jamaica Cultural Development Commission- JCDC speech festivals where I won several awards; from there my love for the stage developed. This passion was further fuelled when I transitioned onto high school, where I joined the Ardenne High School drama club. There my love and passion for acting and performing was honed- I was involved in several productions and represented my school and Jamaica in the Caribbean Drama festival on numerous occasions. From there, I had the distinct honour of being apart of the dynamic group- Jamaica Youth Theatre which exposed me to the many facets of acting and performing; from there I transitioned into commercial theatre.

What is your proudest moment as a performer so far?
My proudest moment as a performer was my role in “1888” where I played “Minnie”. The reception was overwhelming from the audience as the play highlighted the struggles of ex-slaves on the plantation. The responses from fellow cast members, the director and patrons made it one of my proudest moment to date, as I was told that I brought the character to life and my portrayal of the character was so convincing and real on stage to the point where it stirred the emotions of many. With every production I aim to not “act” but “become” my character.

Tell us about your role in Aston Cooke’s new play “Internet Affair”?
I play Donna Robinson, a 25 year old Event Planner who is recently married and has discovered that her husband has been spending too much time on his gadgets: his phone and computer, instead of giving her the attention that she craves. She has had a decorated past with relationships during her time in college, but has now decided to forget her past and become the bourgeoisie wife.

Some say art reflects real life and the play deals with cybersex. Has anyone who has seen the play told you about a similar situation involving cybersex cheating?
Yes they have. I get to understand that it’s a common practice for many now. They were truly entertained with how it was presented in Internet Affair.

What can audience expect from the play?
Audience can not only expect a belly full of laughs from Internet Affair due to its many comedic elements, but they can also expect to be schooled on internet affairs. The play depicts art in every aspect; from the lighting to costuming to stage movement and set design- everything was orchestrated to deliver an exceptional performance that theatre patrons will truly enjoy.

You have collaborated on quite a few plays with Aston Cooke. We don’t want to get you you in trouble but apart from Internet Affair which other collaboration with Aston would you say would be on your top 5 list of your performances?
I would definitely have to say “Concubine”. I still have people meeting me in the street talking about that production. I guess it has really left an indelible mark on the minds of many.

Who do you admire as an actor?
I admire Leonie Forbes- she is truly a pioneer in Jamaican theatre.

Every performer can remember a performance that was a challenge especially if it live. They mention improvising on lines they may have forgotten. Have you had one of those yet that you can remember?
I do actually, but I was supported by the other actors to improvise and to deliver the essence of the line. Thus highlighting the importance of actors’ intelligence- we all support each other on stage.

Do you have any other new projects or plays in the works?
No new play in the works at the moment.

What do you think makes Jamaican comedy different from comedy anywhere in the world?
 Jamaican comedy is unique as it offers an escape route for many persons from their day to day life.  Jamaican comedy has a distinct feature of audience participation not seen in other places.  The Jamaican audience take part in the play as if they are on stage with the characters…they talk back to the actors and expect to be included in the script too.

My friend would say the strangest thing I do is…
Eat too much for my small frame….

Thank for your time and all the best in the future.
Thank you.

To learn more about Marsha Campbell check her facebook and twitter pages.