Actress Deon Silvera’s 60th birthday bash turned out a great deal even bigger than initially conceptualised, not mainly because there had been much more attendees present than had been invited, but rather owing to the absence of 1 guest, theatre huge Volier Johnson. On the eve of the occasion, Johnson had eagerly anticipated “dancing [his] toes off” in its place the icon of theatre exited the phase completely. The theatre globe was shook.
Silvera had spoken to Johnson last Thursday, and he had requested her to place up some mangoes for him, which he promised to collect on Saturday, only for her to get a phone on Friday night time informing her of her friend’s unexpected passing. Johnson, most effective recognized as ‘Maffie’, died at the Kingston General public Healthcare facility on Friday after suffering what appeared to be a coronary heart attack.
“If I didn’t have all of this prepared for tonight previously, I would have set it off,” she explained to The Gleaner of her birthday celebrations. “I have been crying all working day. But tonight, we are heading to rejoice Volier,” Silvera extra, looking fabulous in blue, and rocking a pair of outsized eyeglasses created to cover her eyes, however swollen from much too a lot crying.
The programme for the twin celebration had a exclusive portion devoted to ‘Tributes to Volier Johnson guided by Silton Townsend’. Notably, it wasn’t a time for tear-jerking reminiscences in fact, with the all-natural joie de vivre associated with theatre folks, it was a segment loaded with much laughter.
Actress Angela Jarrett remembered Johnson as getting “very mischievous”. Jarrett shared a tale of her and Deon Silvera travelling to the place with Johnson in the dead of evening and acquiring an argument with him, which they fortunately considered they experienced received simply because Johnson had long gone peaceful. They bought a rude awakening when they realised that he experienced detoured and had taken them to a cemetery.
“We inna Dovecot!” she exclaimed, even now sounding spooked. “And Volier change off the lights, and so we in Dovecot in the darkness!” she continued, to significantly laughter. “We love and pass up you, and will bear in mind the adore that you are brought not just to [the] theatre, but to the planet.”
Johnson was remembered as the male who “jive Deon one evening until she start out bawl, and then him turn pon Terry”. He was the pork lover and the ‘Minister of Pork Patties’, and it was noted that with pork on the evening’s menu, it was just doable that Johnson was somewhere about.
But, it was his kindness that defined Volier Johnson. In paying tribute, prolific playwright Basil Dawkins started off on a sombre take note, “We do not, Lord, Thy purpose see, but all is very well, if finished by Thee. In the midst of everyday living, we are in demise. This epitomises that stating.” Dawkins spoke of Johnson’s “sacrificial kindness” and relevant how his colleague accompanied him to the region the evening his mother handed.
“Just prior to the engage in that evening, I acquired a simply call that my mother experienced died. I made the decision to travel to Westmoreland proper after the present, and I explained to my colleagues what I was accomplishing. Volier claimed I could not go by myself, and he went with me. The next day he was up and down with me at the undertaker’s, making the arrangement,” Dawkins shared.
He also hailed Johnson as the person who would normally iron his shirts whilst on tour. “No issue how me consider my shirt iron fantastic, Volier often mail for it and iron it correctly,” he recalled. “The whole crew up deh, notify Charlie to give him a lead position,” Dawkins concluded.
In 1996 Johnson received the Actor Boy Award for Very best Actor for the Dawkins enjoy, Toy Boy.
Theatre veteran Lenford Salmon reported it was “painful to talk about Volier,” and he, as well, remembered the thespian’s kindness. “Volier epitomised somebody who cared so a lot, sometimes to his possess detriment. I met Volier in 1982, and in all those people 40 several years, I are not able to remember Volier currently being angry. He generally found a way to make mild of it. Volier was my colleague in theatre, but he was also my friend,” the Jambiz principal said.
Actor Blakka Ellis reported he was “privileged to participate in together with Volier in Claffy,” and he, also, recalled Johnson accompanying him on a journey when a relative died. Actress and producer Sherando Ferrell lifted her hat “to someone who touched our life in so many ways”.
With 50 several years in theatre beneath his belt, Johnson had executed in pantomimes, including Tantaloo, Trash and Schoolers Ginger Knight’s plays Higglers, Stepfather and Home For Rent a number of Basil Dawkins productions, as effectively as the Oliver at Huge sequence.
His bigger-than-existence characterisations gained him the well-liked names ‘Maffie’, ‘Claffy’ and ‘Fishead’.
Past Saturday, the Jamaica Movie and Television Affiliation, in shelling out tribute to a single of the very best in Jamaican theatre, noted that “he frequently gave us laughter, and generally gave us coronary heart leaving a inventive legacy and fond memories”.
Primary Minister Andrew Holness said previous Saturday, “This morning, I mourn with all Jamaicans as we read the information of the passing of our pretty very own famous actor, Volier Johnson. Johnson performed a major role in Jamaica’s theatre local community for additional than 50 several years and has added sizeable benefit to our lifestyle. I lengthen deepest condolences to his spouse and children, beloved types, friends, and to the quite a few men and women who cherished and supported him, the two in Jamaica and all around the world.”
Culture Minister Olivia Grange wrote on Instagram, “My condolences to Volier Johnson’s family members and the theatre community. These types of a terrific reduction. #SIP Volier.”
In 2013, Johnson been given the Order of Distinction for his assistance to the Jamaican theatre.