Barry Reckord

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Barry Reckord (19 November 1926 – 20 December 2011) was a Jamaican playwright, one of the earliest Caribbean writers to make a contribution to theatre in Britain.[1][2][3][4]


He was born Barrington John Reckord in Kingston, Jamaica, where he grew up in Vineyard Town with his three siblings: two brothers, Carol and Lloyd, and a sister Cynthia.[2] He attended Kingston College and after matriculation went on to study theology at St Peter's College in 1948. He left the island in 1950 after winning an Issa Scholarship to Cambridge University, where he read for a degree at Emmanuel College, graduating in 1953.[1][5]

He began writing plays as a student and several of them were performed at the Royal Court Theatre in London, sometimes directed by his brother Lloyd Reckord.[1][6] Della, Reckord's first play, which (as Adella) had been staged by his brother in a small fringe production in 1954, was produced under the title Flesh to a Tiger at the Royal Court in 1958, directed by Tony Richardson, with a cast that featured Cleo Laine, Pearl Prescod, Nadia Cattouse, Johnny Sekka and Lloyd Reckord,[5] and choreography by Boscoe Holder.[7] In 1961 the Royal Court also produced You in Your Small Corner, which transferred to the New Arts Theatre and was adapted for ITV's Play of the Week series in 1962.[5]

Reckord wrote other television dramas, including for the BBC In the Beautiful Caribbean (1972) and Club Havana (1975),[3] as well as a book about Cuba entitled Does Fidel Eat More Than Your Father (Praeger, 1971).[1]

In 1973 he received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship to Assist Research and Artistic Creation.[8] Also in 1973, Reckord was awarded the Silver Musgrave Medal by the Institute of Jamaica.[1][2]

After living most of his adult life in Britain, mostly with his companion Diana Athill, in the last few years of his life he returned to Jamaica, where he died.[1]


On 23 September 2012, a tribute to Reckord's life and work, called "Reckord Celebrations",[9] was held at the Bush Theatre, Shepherd's Bush, London, with contributors including Max Stafford-Clark, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Don Warrington and Diana Athill. At the same time The London Hub launched the Barry Reckord Bursary, open to black, Asian and minority ethnic artists, and designed to encourage new playwrights.[10] As Michael Billington commented in The Guardian: "It's good to see Reckord at last being given his due. But one way to celebrate a playwright is to encourage his successors."[11] The first recipient of the Barry Reckord Bursary was announced in January 2013.[12]

Selected plays[edit]

  • 1953: Della (Ward Theatre, Kingston, Jamaica)
  • 1954: Adella (London)
  • 1958: Flesh to a Tiger (Royal Court, London)
  • 1960: You in Your Small Corner (Royal Court); adapted for Granada Television's Play of the Week strand, 1962
  • 1963, 1971: Skyvers (Royal Court)
  • 1970: A Liberated Woman (Royal Court)
  • 1973: Give the Gaffers Time To Love You (Royal Court, Theatre Upstairs)
  • 1974: X (Royal Court, Theatre Upstairs)
  • 1975: The White Witch of Rose Hall (Creative Arts Centre, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica)
  • 1985: The White Witch (London)
  • 1988: Sugar D (Barn Theatre, Kingston, Jamaica)



  1. ^ a b c d e f "Reckord completes the final act". The Gleaner. 22 December 2011. Retrieved 16 January 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Johnson, Richard (29 December 2011). "Late playwright Barry Reckord's body donated to science". The Jamaica Observer. Retrieved 16 January 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Ogidi, Ann. "Reckord, Barry". Screenonline. British Film Institute. Retrieved 16 January 2012. 
  4. ^ Mahamdallie, Hassan (13 September 2011). "The Creative Case for Diversity". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c Busby, Margaret (16 January 2012). "Barry Reckord obituary". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 21 January 2012. 
  6. ^ Martin Banham; Errol Hill (1994). The Cambridge Guide to African and Caribbean Theatre. Cambridge University Press. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-521-41139-4. 
  7. ^ "Flesh to a Tiger", Black Plays Archive, National Theatre.
  8. ^ Historical Geographies, 7 February 2012.
  9. ^ "Who was Barry Reckord?", Talawa Theatre Company, 18 September 2012.
  10. ^ "London Hub seeks emerging artists and playwrights for the Barry Reckord Bursary & Pitch it", Afridiziak Theatre News, 2 October 2012.
  11. ^ Michael Billington, "Why the best way to honour past playwrights is to invest in the future", The Guardian, 18 September 2012.
  12. ^ "Ravi Thornton is the first recipient of The Barry Reckord Bursary", Afridiziak Theatre News, 19 January 2013.

External links[edit]