Trevor Nairne: The Late Artistic Director

Trevor Nairne: The Late Artistic Director


Trevor Nairne is a name that will forever remain in the annals of our cultural history. He was a gentle giant with the ability to have “sold out houses” both in life and death. Our icon Trevor Anthony Nairne received the national Order of Distinction (Officer Class) for his contribution to the development of Jamaican theatre in 2010. He also received several Actor Boy Awards for his fantastic work.

Trevor Nairne, OD

Nairne directed some of Jamaica’s most successful plays of the past three decades. These include Ecstasy, Intermission, Friends, The Last Stand, Oliver and Pinnochio and Breadfruit Kingdom. He worked in theatre, but he worked in film, too. He was one of the consultants for the 1995 dancehall movie, Klash, which starred Giancarlo Esposito and Jasmine Guy.

Tribute to Trevs

‘Trevs’, ‘Nears’, Trevorn’, ‘Bossie’ and ‘Missa Muir’ are five of the many names of the late artistic director. Though he was “the person with the most names at Jambiz International”, he answered them all “with a smile”. Such was the measure of the man. People described him as a respectful, patient and calm man who always had a smile.

People spoke about his “PhD jokes” and creative brilliance throughout the night. This same genius was the driver behind the country’s annual Independence Grand Gala and other remarkable cultural events. A special “Tribute to Trevs” event brought the Little Theatre on Tom Redcam Avenue to life on Wednesday night. The night opened with a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem. Later, theatrical contemporaries Ruth Ho Shing, Grace McGhie, and Fae Ellington performed a special reading of Una Marson’s Confession.

Ruth Ho Shing (left), Grace McGhie (centre), and Fae Ellington (right)


The night went on for hours, but what are a few hours for a champion of a man? It was evident that the performers understood the assignment as the auditorium echoed with laughter and applause. Beautiful tributes flowed in from various performing arts groups, including ASHE, L’ACADCO, Dance Theatre Xaymaca, Quilt, Wolmer’s and Tivoli Dance Troupes. Host Christopher “Johnny” Daley and Dahlia Harris mentioned that “the night was not one for tears”.

Dean Fraser soothed the audience with the musical sounds from the saxophone. Singers Alaine, Sharee Elise, Keisha Patterson and Deon Somers-Campbell all had their chance to show their appreciation for the late icon with their beautiful voices. The EDNA Manley School of Drama gave a touching performance of an excerpt from “In the Red and Brown Water” by Tarell Alvin McCraney. While Courtney Wilson, Glen Campbell and Melissa Vassell had the audience in stitches after performing an excerpt from Patrick Brown’s Dirty Diana. Trevor’s son, Trevin, wowed the audient with his euphonious voice, while his uncle Alan was his backup singer and hype man.

Trevin Nairne
Trevin Nairne

Jambiz family

The Jambiz family expressed their love and admiration for one of their own. The late Trevor founded Jambiz International just over 20 years ago with actor-producer Lenny Salmon and writer Patrick Brown. Veteran television director and the man who produced the Oliver at Large series, Calvin Butler, summed it up best when he said, ‘Trevor was easily the most decent human being I have ever encountered.” Pre-recorded tributes also came from Oliver Samuels, Michael Holgate, Ricardo Chin, Basil Dawkins and Micheal Nicholson, to name a few.

Honourable Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange

Honourable Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange has worked closely with Nairne on cultural projects. She spent 10 minutes praising the man with the “boy-next-door” charm, who, she readily admitted, she “will miss”. The Minister spoke about the value he added to Jamaica’s culture and events. She described him as a legend within the Jamaican theatre who earned the respect of all of the theatre greats:

Honourable Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange

The night was beautiful and fitting for a cultural icon. Jamaicans will remember Trevor Nairne for his creativity, but most of all for his love for his country and total dedication to everything theatre.

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