Promoting an artistic society

I had been to numerous drama shows but never a musical in Guyana, until the Georgetown International Academy’s (GIA) production of The Lion King. In fact, I had never in recent years even seen one been advertised.

As I expressed last week, the production was beautifully done but the inadequacies of the Theatre Guild made it a somewhat disappointing night.
When I thought deeper on the production, it wasn’t the musical alone and of itself that impressed me, but the investment in arts and drama that would inspire and empower young minds and mould them into free-thinking adults.

The following day, my editor had asked what I thought of the production and for a minute there I stuttered. I couldn’t really explain it. I eventually summed it up, “Fantastic for a school play, awful for a Theatre Guild Production.”

culture boxIn essence, had the play been staged at a school auditorium somewhere, the limitations would have been understandable. But this was the Theatre Guild, steeped in history and yet fairly new having been rebuilt and refurbished and reopened in June 2008. I felt the Theatre Guild could have provided more of a launching pad for these young, productive minds – have them feel a sense of professionalism in drama. Instead, microphones were missing until the last moment, sound effects were backed by rasps and whispers and at many points the children’s voices could not be heard for lack of equipment.

Awful for a Theatre Guild Production; as mentioned last week: “In many ways the Theatre Guild had robbed these young actors of a fine experience.” The older dramatists in Guyana are accustomed to the many flaws we have in our arenas in a country begging for a better industry. It is unfortunate that the students had to have those few moments of panic, but at the end of the evening they made the best of it.

Of course GIA is not the only school that has invested in drama and arts. It should be noted that the New Amsterdam Multilateral, Mahaicony Secondary, Annandale Secondary and West Demerara Secondary schools made waves at last year’s National Drama Festival; not to mention a number of other schools (both primary and secondary) that participated in the event, along with youth and church groups.

However, whether these programmes are sustained, or just put down and then revived in time for the festival is not known. But more schools and youth groups need to invest in an artistic programme; it develops the language, creativity and thinking abilities of children.

Not everyone learns the same way so instead of laying a book in front of students why not have more interactive sessions. Use sounds, colours, visual aids – all of these methods prove efficient in interesting children and are conducive to maximising their potential. We all know what is happening with education in Guyana. The least we can do is at least try to make it a little more productive.

When children are exposed to creative learning it shows. It is not a waste of time and resources because at the end of the day we are raising human beings with free minds, not computers with programming. And as Albert Einstein wrote: “Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

And that is exactly what happens in classrooms where new and effective methods are not applied, but instead the blackboard and chalk become the only means of imparting knowledge. A few—the naturally gifted—will excel and the others will struggle, thinking that they are ‘stupid’ because of the poor delivery of education.

But back to where I started – if we nurture talent then we should also endeavour for quality in output. The National Cultural Centre has had issues over the years with its lighting and sound; even its seats are rusting and collapsing. The Theatre Guild cannot afford to follow the same path; that would be the ultimate disaster. (Jairo Rodrigues)

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