Theatre has always had its place in Guyana; though there have been times when it was at a low. But which Guyanese isn’t familiar with staples such as the ‘Link Show’, ‘Nothing to Laugh About’ or the more seriously portrayed dramas like Till I find a Place and Fences. Guyana is a haven for cultural drama which we can all relate to and so we should all be a part of this enticing art, Shakespeare himself said, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women are merely players.”
Approximately four years ago there was a dramatic festival hosted by the National Cultural Centre just before Carifesta X, for schools. Why stop there? Why not hold workshops and annual festivals for such a talented nation. Invite the world to see what Guyana can do, what we are capable of. The late president Forbes Burnham saw the dramatic potential of Guyanese and so he came up with the initiative of the National Cultural Centre and the introduction of the Caribbean Festival of Creative Arts.
I am not saying that the Theatre Guild and the National Cultural Centre aren’t doing enough for such a small country where drama is something that is not up to ‘Hollywood Standards’, I am saying “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day but teach a man to fish and feed him for life”. Encourage the youths to participate and be a part of cultural portrayal and watch as their potential blossoms into national pride. I believe that the dramatic arts should be promoted in schools to encourage creativity, imagination and hard work.
It should be seriously contemplated by all youth groups, community centres and schools to take up the challenge and start drama clubs to promote the arts on a wider stage, hold talent shows and concerts even as fundraisers! Youths today are using their spare time to do so many unnecessary activities, occupy their time gainfully in promoting something that will benefit them. Promoting drama will not only promote skills of role playing but also the initiative to strengthen reading and comprehension, use of language, analysis, research and the knowledge of history and culture. This is exactly what the Ministry of Education requires to promote English Literature. Be the first to start a whole new trend of art!
I have discussed promoting the arts and would briefly like to touch the topic of developing drama into the twenty-first century and I certainly do not mean the amateur skits like that are sometimes foisted on Guyanese. There are some really good actors out there but the plays that are put on do not test their mettle. In fact, it seems as though drama in Guyana is more of a hobby that an actual career, but this perception can be turned around with dedication and perseverance.
Since a foundation has been established why not try out more comprehensive plays, take a dive into Shakespeare – after all it’s in the Caribbean Examinations Council syllabus for a reason. Shakespeare is filled with riddles, poems, cliff hangers and comes in a diversity of tragedy, romance and history; there is always a lesson to learn. Shakespeare was famous for making his audience think rather than telling them a story this had people then and now captivated; placing themselves in the shoes of his characters.
I urge businesses to invest in drama festivals: offer funds, grant loans, promote the initiative of the dramatic arts especially during the seasons of Mashramani, Independence and the August holidays when visitor arrivals are high.
Move on to widen the arts by including occasional eye-popping performances, I am talking about trying out musicals and theatrical performances that would dazzle audiences and leave people wanting to see more. Come on Guyana, We are famous for accomplishing the impossible, starting new ideas, diversifying and our hospitality. If we work hard we can be the stage for drama in the Caribbean. (firstname.lastname@example.org)