Claudette Allens is a 45 year veteran of the performing arts community here in The Bahamas.
Her stage career began in 1970 when she became a member of the University Players.
She joined the group without any intention of going on stage. It just seemed to be a way to get out of the house at least once a week, away from the strict ship which her parents ran.
Her first play was "The Chance" by Susan Wallace. On stage, she discovered her passion. It was one of the most exhilarating moments of her life. Once that first play was over, she was "junsin" for the next audition to try out again.
The University Players developed into a group that was considered radical by other dramatic groups, as they performed works that the other more Anglophile groups would frown upon - not just American plays, but plays of the 70's "Black Power" movement: works of Ed Bullins, Sonia Sanchez and the like. In addition, The University Players performed works from the Caribbean, and up and coming Bahamian writers. Apart from Susan Wallace, there were writers like, Sam Bootle, P. Anthony White, Jeanne Thompson, Telcine Turner Rolle, James Catalyn and Winston Saunders.
|During this time, to Cookie was introduced to a woman by the name of Meta Davis Cumberbatch, who originated and ran the Festival of Arts and Crafts Bahamas Limited. This woman made her to understand the true meaning of an artist. Discipline was her watch word. Cookie served as the secretary of the Festival of Arts and Crafts for about seven years.
In 1971, Cookie attended a Theater Arts Workshop in Kingston, Jamaica, at UWI and had the opportunity to work with the Caribbean artists such as the late Dennis Scott, Rex Nettleford and Trevor Rhone.
In the 1980's a new group was formed, James Catalyn and Friends. Cookie was an active member of this group until 1989. The group is know for its comical review of all things timely and topical, from religion to politics.
In 1981 she was a part of a group sent to represent The Bahamas at Caribbean Festival of Arts, in Barbados. She took major roles in James Baldwin's "The Amen Corner" and 'Them" by Winston Saunders. Both plays were very well received.
It was in 1991 that she had the honor of representing her country at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Scotland, where she performed in "You can lead a Horse to Water" by Winston Saunders and "Music of The Bahamas" an adaptation from the late E. Clement Bethel's thesis done by Nicolette Bethel and Philip Burrows.
In 1991, she was the recipient of the first "DANSA Award" in the category, Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Mother Henry, a 90 year old woman in James Baldwin's "Blues for Mister Charlie".
In addition to her stage performances, you may have seen her in local television commercials and heard her voice on many a radio advertisement, in particular the "Superwash" commercials. When it became fashionable to perform radio commercials in dialect, naturally she was one of the first to have a radio commercial done. Today, this has not stopped.
More recently, she has taken on the role of a Story Teller, and may be seen at many a local event on weekends keeping our "oral tradition" of story telling alive. Inspired by the late Dr. Cleveland Eneas and the way he told his Ber Bookie and Ber Rabbie stories, she aims to be as good a story teller as he was.
In November 2001, Cookie was featured in the first locally produced Bahamian movie ever to play commercially in Bahamian cinemas (Nassau, Freeport and Abaco) - Plantation Picture's version of Nicolette Bethel's "Powercut", adapted by Manny Knowles. She is also a founding member of Ringplay , the theater production company behind "Macbeth" and "Music of The Bahamas".
In January of 2004 a new phase of her life began. She along with Patricia Thomas and Val Maura began a morning show on ZNS 1540 Radio called "Sister Sarah's Kitchen". This show features a variety of segments which includes, story telling, recipes, Bahamian profiles, etc., its aim is to entertain, educate and inform this has turned out to be a very popular aspect of radio, particularly to those persons in the family islands.
In November of 2008 yet another phase of her life began. She was asked by the Ministry of Tourism to become a Tourism Ambassador. This entailed her meeting and greet visitors at the Lynden Pindling International Airport for approximately three hours on selected days.
She is one of the cornerstones of Bahamian Theater.
She is also featured in the following:
Powercut - 2001
Winjamma - 2009
Female Pirates of The Caribbean -
Dream or Reality - Ministry of Tourism
Generations of Bahamian Culture - Colina 2010 Calendar
Marion Bethel's Documentary on The Suffrage Movement
When a Man Dreams Dreams - The Winston Saunders Story
Dis We tings
Music of The Bahamas