Twelve students successfully completed the Diploma programme at the National School of Theatre Arts and Drama, making their mark in history as the first to receive certified training in the creative arts at the tertiary level in Guyana.
The 12 were honoured during a simple graduation ceremony at the National Cultural Centre (NCC) where President Donald Ramotar performed the duties of handing over special prizes to the best graduating student, runner up and the valedictorian.
They are Teneka Calderia and Mark Luke Edwards who graduated with Distinction, Lisa Adams, Natasha Azeez, Nirmala Narine and Melinda Primo-Solomon who attained credit and Mikel Andrews, Keron Bruce, Latoya Kellman, Nikose Layne, Marissa Primo and Rae Wiltshire who earned passes.
The three-hour ceremony featured a short extract from the story ‘Ramlila’ which the batch performed after they would have studied the history of stage, and performance theory, and conducted research.
The National School of Theatre Arts and Drama has its genesis in 2012 when it was established and subsequently launched the following year. Classes commenced in February 2013 at the NCC, a venue that was considered an apt location for the pursuit of a Diploma in Theatre Arts and Drama.
An initial 26 students enrolled for the programme that is being offered at two levels; The Certificate in Theatre Arts and the Diploma in Theatre arts. During the course of the programme the students pursue academic and technical courses, including productions staged by the students.
Practicals on ‘Improv Greek Theatre’ and Ramlila were done at the NCC in July, and in August 2013, the students travelled to Paramaribo, Suriname where they participated in Carifesta XI.
In the playwriting course, five new plays were written by students which are now being rehearsed for public performances.
The programme also saw students undertaking visits to different secondary schools and communities to offer guidance and advice to beginners desirous of producing plays for the National Drama Festival.
Director of Studies Professor Al Creighton explained that it was in the second semester that the students were primarily geared for the actual production of theatre, undertaking courses that focused on stage productions.
With the establishment of the National School of Theatre Arts and Drama, Guyana now joins Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados where there are institutions specifically designed to promote the creative arts.
Programme Manager of Culture and Community Development in the Caricom Secretariat Dr. Hilary Brown who appeared as the guest speaker, believes Guyana is on the right track and can develop performing arts industries like in other member states where jobs are being created.
“What is clear is that the creative and cultural industries have emerged as a strategic choice for reinvigorating economic growth, employment and social cohesion in our countries,” Dr. Brown said.
After being nurtured and strengthened, the programme is expected to serve as a platform for further training in drama at the University of Guyana.
Lecturers, tutors and demonstrators for the programme were drawn from a core of professionals in the country’s performing arts. Among them, Professor Al Creighton, Russel Lancaster, Ron Robinson, Vivienne Daniels, Godfrey Naughton, Gem Madhoo-Nascimento and Margaret Lawrence. (GINA)