Ministry of Education, Guyana

Monday, 11 December 2017 09:49

Proudly representing Guyana…North West District Secondary stages Farrier’s supernatural play at Caribbean Drama Festival

news 20171210 1From all indications, the Ministry of Education will be putting deliberate measures in place to ensure that Allied Arts, in schools across the country, is given keen attention.

This is in light of the fact that it was students of the Region One, North West District Secondary School, who were chosen to represent Guyana at the 10th Biennial Caribbean Secondary Schools Drama Festival in Antigua and Barbuda.
The event is one that spanned the period November 26 through December 2, 2017 and the Guyanese students did not fail to impress. In fact, for their performance in the play ‘The Slave and the Scroll’, three of them were duly recognised for awards. The Guyanese students brought home awards for the best male actor [Rudel London], best female actress [Alejandra Adams] and best supporting female actress [Tiffany Ashby].
The students of the Region One School were tasked with representing Guyana since that school, at the National Drama Festival in 2016, was adjudged the school with the best play.
That National Drama Festival saw schools from across the 11 education districts participating, and while there were many outstanding performances from schools across the education districts, the North West District Secondary’s play [The Slave and The Scroll written by career journalist/writer Francis Quamina Farrier], proved to be the most outstanding of them all.
This is according to Administrator [ag] of the Ministry of Education’s Unit of Allied Arts, Ms. Lorraine Barker-King.
The play, directed by Drama Teacher of the North West District Secondary School, Ariana Warde, was particularly appealing, since students moved away from performances that aroused hilarity to one that was more historically awakening.
“Some people would see such a play as boring, because it doesn’t have content to make you laugh, but this is a serious play…” asserted Barker-King.
The play is one that sought to recreate a scene 200 years after the 1763 slave rebellion, overwhelmed with supernatural activities. The plot essential sees a spirit of a slave leader returning to solicit the support of his descendants to find a scroll that could help to set things right.
And since it was long determined that the school adjudged the most outstanding at the national festival would automatically be eligible to represent Guyana at the Drama Festival in Antigua and Barbuda, North West District Secondary was selected for this task.
This saw the Unit of Allied Arts taking immediate action to enhance the performances of individual students who participated in the play.
“We brought on board a very technical person to work closely with the students to perfect their performances…because we knew that they needed additional training,” said Barker-King who also disclosed that the additional preparation spanned quite a few weeks. In addition to refining their play, Barker-King said that the students were also required to train for two cultural dances.
But this was not all the training the students were exposed to. According to Barker-King, they were afforded etiquette and other mannerism training before heading off to Antigua and Barbuda.
Ahead of their departure too, the students were required to stage their play for a local audience at the Theatre Guild.
“Our people were able to get a ‘sneak peek’ of what they were going to do in Antigua and Barbuda, and it was well received,” Barker-King said during a recent interview.
The contingent including Barker-King, Miss Warde of the North West District Secondary and the students, left Guyana on November 26 to represent Guyana. They returned last Sunday.
Staging the play in Antigua and Barbuda was no less exhilarating as, according to Barker-King, “we took to them the eeriness that we believe would be consistent with supernatural activities. We used a fog machine to create the eerie smoke; we were able to create a real surreal atmosphere.”
Guyana was one of seven countries that participated in the Caribbean Schools Drama Festival.
“I can tell you that the experiences gained by the students during that one week, I am convinced that it will propel them further…They were exposed to workshops in acting, how to use their voice well and even puppetry,” Barker-King 20171210
She continued, “I am satisfied with the performances we produced, because we had our students working around the clock and at the end of it all, you can see that their participation helped to heighted their self-esteem, you can see that they have a renewed sense of purpose because of the exposure that they got.”
For this very reason, Barker-King said that the future efforts will be focused on ensuring that even more time and attention is afforded to preparing students for such engagements. This, she believes, will help Guyana to realise even more outstanding results.
Elated that her school not only yielded outstanding performances, Warde said that it was only natural that she take the lead in this regard, since she too was intrigued by drama while a student herself at the very North West District Secondary.
“I had a passion for drama since I was in high school,” said the barely 19 years old Warde who became a teacher just over one year ago. She was understandably entrusted by Head Teacher, Ms. Carlotta Joseph, with teaching drama at the school in order to prepare the students to participate in the national festival.
“I feel very proud of my school, my region and my country too,” said Warde who also amplified that the support from various individuals to ensure the students were ready for an overseas platform was phenomenal.
Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of her classmates and fellow acting colleagues, Adams [who was awarded for being the best actress in the play] said that she hopes that her school will one day be able to offer Theatre Arts at the level of the Caribbean Examinations Council.
“Drama is fun, you can be one person in one moment and a whole other person when you get into character,” said Adams, as she expressed gratitude that she and her schoolmates were found befitting of a life-changing experience.
“We feel excited because we were just a group of students who wanted to be a part of the drama festival, and we not only did that, but we got a chance to represent our country. We found that other students who participated in the festival were writing it for CSEC too, so we need to be doing this too,” said Adams who will be writing CSEC next year. Because of her exposure, Adams foresees acting as a permanent feature in her future


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