Acclaimed story-teller and poet Paul Keens-Douglas recently returned to Guyana for a comedy show after several years. As had previously been the case, GEMS Theatre Productions was responsible for his appearance and the show, ‘Two of Kind’ staged at the Marriott Hotel in Georgetown on June 17, was produced by Gem Madhoo-Nascimento.
This was a memorable return. The performance was top class; the house was full. It was reminiscent of the fact that Keens-Douglas has filled the vast National Cultural Centre (NCC) in the past. Last month’s show brought out a large uptown audience, most of whom do not go to the NCC. This is worth mentioning for three reasons – it is relevant to the continuing study of theatre audiences in Guyana and what is emerging about the demographics of the local audience on opposite sides of Georgetown; the fact that throughout his long career, Keens-Douglas has had the capacity to attract an enthusiastic popular audience in Guyana; as well as the dynamic nature and changing emphases in his form, style and content over those decades.
Those are also significant factors in theatre in the Caribbean. They speak to the place of comedy; the (re)rise and resilience of stand-up comedy; the changes that have been taking place; and the contribution of Keens-Douglas to form and content. It is the resurgence of stand-up comedy because this was part of an old tradition that waned with cultural change only to resurface as a popular attraction in the past decade. An interesting factor is the significant irony that ‘Two of Kind’ awoke the attention of one type of audience at the Marriott, and at the Theatre Guild Playhouse, while the other type of popular audience was keeping comedy alive at the NCC. As an aside, there is a practice known in Economics as price discrimination, and this becomes relevant when one draws attention to the role of the pricing of tickets at both ends of the city. ….