Lots of Violent Drama at the National Drama Festival 2016

LOTS OF VIOLENT DRAMA AT THE NATIONAL DRAMA FESTIVAL 2016 

– by Francis Quamina Farrier

A Beauty from the Forest

A Beauty from the Forest

The Guyana National Drama Festival of this Jubilee Year, 2016, has just ended, and if you did not attend at least one of the many sessions, and seen one or more of the more than sixty plays, then you have missed out on seeing some very good dramas. You would have also missed out on what messages many of the newer plays had, and get to offer your own personal opinions.

Some of the scenes in a number of the plays were very violent; especially Violence Against Women. There were many murders; many with the use of guns. In others, there were many scenes in which the sex act was simulated with unabashed abandonment. At many of the performances, some members of the audiences were very loud and constant in their “talk-back” interjections. Those are some of the issues very much in discussion.    

The recent Guyana National Drama Festivals, commenced a few years ago, replacing GUYFESTA – the Guyana Festival of the Creative Arts – which was staged biennially, all across the country between 1977 and 1989. But before GUYFESTA, there were National Drama Festivals and Sugar Estates Drama Festivals in Colonial British Guiana and early independent Guyana.

That fact was mentioned by the Chief Adjudicator, Al Creighton, just before the curtains went up for the first play in the just concluded National Drama Festival Finals, which was held on Sunday November 20, 2016, at the National Cultural Centre in Georgetown. Present at that opening night, was Minister responsible for Culture, Hon. Nicolette Henry, M.P. who addressed the audience telling them that the current annual National Drama Festivals, have the support of her Ministry. Also addressing the audience at the opening of the Finals was a representative of DIGICEL, which is supporting the Festival in a big way financially.

These recent National Drama Festivals are still a work-in-progress, so to speak. Some of the rules are being looked at and Chief Adjudicator, Al Creighton, stated what seemed to be “The Riot Act”, saying that there will be penalties for offenders of some of the productions in the future.

Back in the colonial times and the early years of independence, there were no multi-million dollar packages to be won by the players and the producers, who were awarded Best Actress and Best Play, for example. Back then, a trophy and the great feeling of participating and winning, was all that was anticipated and accepted.

When I won the Best Actor award in the 1965 British Guiana National Drama Festival, at which the St. Lucian poet and dramatist, Derek Walcott, was the principal adjudicator, there was that sense of achievement which money could never buy. However, in Jubilee Year Guyana, financial awards are most welcome, and necessary. The cost of mounting a play these days is very costly in this Jubilee Year, 2016.

Making a declaration for higher standards in the elements of the productions, Al Creighton stated that Productions can face penalties or even disqualified, if they break the Code of Conduct of the National Drama Festival. Some of the plays did have some very violent scenes, unbridled simulated sexual encounters including rape and some very peppery language, never enacted or said at the National Cultural Centre in past times. Some members of the audiences expressed shock and disapproval.

While it is known that theatre, and culture in general, is “a mirror of Society”, it is also the responsibility of those in the creative field, to know how far they can take their creative liberties, when presenting their works of art at such venues as the National Cultural Centre; and more so, when there are young impressionable children in the audience.

However, it must be stated that there were a number of plays which presented the kind of clean entertainment and thought-provoking plots and themes, which are welcome by many theatre-goers, at this Jubilee Year National Drama Festival.

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A bride  shoots dead, the man she was about to marry

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A father’s agony over his very sick daughter

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A male ‘flying’ through the air to deliver a slap on a woman

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Lady in Red, showing class

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A man kicks a woman after hitting her to the floor

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One woman murdered and the murderer about to murder another woman.

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Angels descended in this Drama Festival play

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A scene from the Frank Pilgrim play MIRIAMY

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A man is about to shoot his son dead.

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The Shaman heals a very sick child

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A woman shoots her lover dead

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Scene from a comedy with clean fun

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