By Jairo Rodrigues in Paramaribo, Suriname
Guyana wrapped up its participation at Carifesta XI with an adaptation of Harold Bascom’s award- winning play Makantali, but the production suffered from poor audience turnout as the event clashed with the well-publicised concert by Grammy Award-winning Haitian-American artiste Wyclef Jean.
Just about 15 persons turned up to view Makantali at the On Stage Theatre School in Paramaribo, Suriname which has a minimum seating capacity of 96. The forty minutes adaptation in the form of storytelling, music, dance and poetic drama was directed by dramatist Godfrey Naughton who also played the role of a storyteller alongside Latoya Kellman. The cast consisted of students of the National Theatre Art School.
Also starring in the production was the 2012 Theatre Guild Awards’ winner for Best Supporting Actor Mark Luke-Edwards. Luke-Edwards, who portrayed Captain Bob – a deceased pork knocker who in the world of the dead watched along and made his comments as the story of Makantali was being narrated, told Stabroek News that he was excited to be representing his country and hopes that the venture places the drama school on the map.
Karon Bruce, who is new to the drama stage, said it was the first time he performed on such a stage. He played an explainer who related parts of the story and was integral in the singing scenes. Before going onstage, Bruce highlighted that regardless of attendance, the cast would put their best into the performance.
Naughton noted that the cast of Makantali had very little time to rehearse and in poor conditions before stepping onstage. It was stated that the poor attendance was mainly due to a clash of events such as the Wyclef Jean concert which was highly publicised as well as other events.
After the show, Stabroek News asked members of the cast for post-production comments. Nickose Layne said that his spirits were dampened by the fact that they did not have an audience because of competing events and lack of advertisements from the Carifesta Office. Latoya Kellman said that she expected a lot of home support but felt pleased that the cast did a great job and they advertised a piece of local heritage to the few Surinamese who were in attendance.
Award winning dramatist Nirmala Narine remarked that although they had limited rehearsals and a poor turnout, they did a great job nonetheless. Lisa Adams and Melina Prom-Solomon highlighted that despite the small audience; they excelled as a team and were happy to be in Suriname.
Apart from the play, Guyana’s representatives were also on show with a dance performance at the Theatre Thalia by the members of the Guyana National School of Dance. Although this event also suffered from poor support, the dancers excelled in both showcases at 6pm and 9pm local time.
Dominic Alleyne said that dancing truly exposes the beauty of Guyana and throughout the entire Carifesta; he believes they were successful in doing so.
Earlier in the evening, at the On Stage Theatre School, representatives of the Deaf Guyana Organisation engaged in song and dance. This organisation caters for the auditory impaired and gave many of its deaf supporters the opportunity to participate in the arts.
James Williams, a member of the association and a performer at the deaf showcase highlighted that he was proud to be representing Guyana and was very happy to see his fellow mates having a good time in Suriname. Again turnout was poor since the event was not publicised as it should have been. It was reported that only six people were in attendance.
Carifesta XI was set to conclude last night at Independence Square, Paramaribo.