83 Million Gees takes top prize at National Drama Festival

By Jairo Rodrigues

After three months, forty plays and travelling the entire country, it was Ronald Hollingsworth’s play 83 Million Gees, directed by Sheron Cadogan Taylor that took the $1 million top prize in this year’s National Drama Festival.

At the award ceremony held at the National Cultural Centre last Friday, November 16, Minister of Culture Dr Frank Anthony expressed that the festivals are improving the dramatic industry significantly. “The government under the Ministry is planning on opening the National Drama School in 2013 which will surely throw a challenge and opportunity to the youths “ he said, “The time is right to see more theatres being developed around the country since nothing  is preventing us from having specialised theatres here – we need to build the spaces now.”

Best supporting actress in the Open, Full length Play category, Sonia Yarde (Sauda), at the awards ceremony.

He went on to charge dramatists to work towards Carifesta 11 in Suriname and the Inter-Guiana Cultural Festival in French Guiana, both to be held next year, since the events and drama are bringing Guyana several gains.

Meanwhile, severl plays written by first time playwrights and directed by first time directors who had benefited from the Merundoi Incorporated Youth Development for Cultural Preservation Project, which was supported by the IDB Cultural Development Program 2011 were successful at the festival.

Below are all of the awardees in the various categories:

The ‘best Set design and use’ awards went to: Junior – I Should Have Been There; Youth Groups – Imprisoned; Secondary Schools: Ti Jean And His Brothers – Mahaicony Secondary; and Open, Full-length play – 83 Million Gees.
For ‘best set light design and use’ the winners were:  Junior – Let It Shine; Youth Groups – Ensnared and Dancing with Circles (Merundoi); Secondary Schools – Ti Jean And His Brothers – Mahaicony Secondary; Open, Short Play – The Blind Truth and Open, Full Length Play: Sizwe Banzi is Dead.

‘Best use of sound saw Junior – Let It Shine; Youth Groups – Dancing in Circles;
Secondary Schools – Ti Jean And His Brothers; Open, short plays: Sometimes in Midnight ; Open, Full length Play – 83 Million Gees.

The ‘best costume awards went to: Junior – I Should Have Been There; Youth Groups – I Should Have Been There; Secondary Schools – Ti Jean And His Brothers; Open Short Plays: Saving Grace; and Open Full length Play – Sauda.

The ‘best original Guyanese play’ saw wins by Junior – Let It Shine; Youth Groups –Sauda; Secondary Schools – Daddy’s Daughter; and Open, Full length Play –Virtue.

The ‘best director’ awards went to: Junior – Ms Davie for I Should Have Been There; Youth Groups: Dacia Whaul for Ensnared (Merundoi).; Secondary Schools – Shaundel Phillips of the New Amsterdam Multilateral School for Tears in Gayelle; Open, Short Plays – Randolph Critchlow for Between the Covers and Open, Full length Play – Sonia Yarde for Virtues.

In the ‘best supporting actress’ category, the winners were: Junior – Shonette Waterman for her role in Life Is What You Make It; Youth Groups – Shaneeza Hussain for The Colour of Race (Merundoi); Secondary Schools: Anita Falander of Annandale Secondary School for The Preacher’s Daughter; Open, Short Plays: Lisa Punch for Between the Covers; and Open, Full length Play: Sonia Yarde for Sauda.

Award winners who were part of the Merundoi project pose with their hardware

The ‘best supporting actors’ were Junior – Carlos Griffith for his role in Can’t Give Up; Youth Groups – Paul Bhudnah for The Colour of Race (Merundoi).; Secondary Schools – Terrence Giddings of the New Amsterdam Multilateral School for Tears in the Gayelle; Open, Short Plays: Nakose Wayne in The Blind Truth; and Open, Full length Play: Mark Kazim for Virtues.

The ‘best actress’ awards went to Junior – Gladys Suknunan in I Should Have Been There; Youth Groups – Nuriyyih Gerrard in Ensnared (Merundoi); Secondary Schools – Nikesha French in Double Trouble; Open, Short Plays: Clemencio Goddett in Till Death (Merundoi); Open, Full length Play: Lloyda Nicholas-Garrett in Virtues.

The ‘best actor’ awards went to: Youth Groups – Kijana Lewis in Ensnared (Merundoi); Secondary Schools – Julia Dannings in Double Trouble; Open, Full Length Play – Mahadeo Shivraj in 83 Million Gees and Ron Robinson in Sizwe Banzi is Dead.The monetary awards handed out for ‘best production’ were: Junior – 2nd runner-up ($75,000) – Can’t Give Up; 1st runner-up $150,000 – I should have been there; and winner, $300,000.

Among the Youth Groups, the second runner-up was: Imprisoned (Merundoi play)- $100,000; the 1st runner-up – $200,000 – Ensnared (Merundoi).; and the winner, $400,000 for The Colour of Race (Merundoi).

Among the secondary schools, the 2nd runner – $100,000 – Daddy’s Daughter – West Demerara Secondary; 1st runner-up ($200,000): Ti Jean and his Brothers – Mahaicony Secondary ; winner – $400,000: Tears in Gayelle by New Amsterdam Multilateral.

In the Open Category – Short Plays, the second runner-up, taking $100,000, was Saving Grace the 1st runner-up with $200,000 was Between the Covers; while Till Death (Merundoi) won the $300,000 first prize.

Finally in the Open Category, Full Length Plays, the 2nd runner-up with $150,000 was Sauda; the second runner-up was Virtues with $300,000, while the winner of the $1 million top prize was 83 Million Gees.

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