KINGSTON, Jamaica – Entertainment Minister Olivia Grange has expressed shock and sadness at the passing of playwright, cultural practitioner, and member of the Board of Commissioners of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), Aston Cooke.
Cooke, one of the island’s leading playwrights, was found dead at his apartment in the Corporate Area on Friday – that is celebrated as Jamaica Day.
“The news of Aston’s passing on this Jamaica Day is a blow for us all. But Aston would be proud of the glorious display and embrace of Jamaican culture in our schools and communities. Our culture was his life. He displayed a level of commitment to his culture that must be emulated and admired.
“In the midst of our cultural celebrations today, we say farewell to a gentleman who has left us a proud legacy that echoes the makings of a cultural icon. We are sure the spirit and legacy of Aston Cooke will live on.
Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the JCDC, Mexine Bissasor,said she was equally saddened at the loss.
“Many giants go about their lives quietly whilst others can be heard shouting from their lofty heights as they journey through life’s ups and downs. Aston Cooke was a quiet giant who contributed to Jamaica’s culture and specifically, theatre, without fuss or clamour. He did what he felt was his duty to country and culture regardless of any hindrances.”
“His legacy is one that speaks to love, passion and honour. His deep love for the artform saw him being a part of all the veins of the heart of the industry; he has served the Commission three different times up to the day of his death. He also served at its highest level having been chairman for the period 2013-2016.”
Aston Cooke was the recipient of nine national Actor Boy Awards for outstanding achievement in various categories of theatre in Jamaica.
Cooke was an inductee to the Caribbean Hall of Fame for Arts and Culture for his contribution to Jamaican theatre over the years. He was also the co-franchise holder of Miss Jamaica World. He was 61. – CMC