“Re-membering the Brink: Oil and a Whole Lotta Gas” opens May 26 in Guyana

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Veteran actor Ricardo Smith (in white) shares rich history on the beginning of theatre in Guyana with young members of the Guild and members of the board. (Theatre Guild of Guyana photo)

The Theatre Guild of Guyana is in its 70th year and will be reopening its doors on the occasion of the South American country’s Independence Day – May 26, with the grand premiere of its brand new production; Re-membering The Brink: Oil and a Whole Lotta Gas. The oldest theatre in the English-speaking Caribbean will be reopening after a small hiatus for restructuring and refurbishing.

In a press release on Saturday, the Theatre Guild of Guyana said the production will, for the first time, see the arts grapple with the big questions provoked by the new oil and gas industry in Guyana, such as, what might this mean for ordinary Guyanese? What changes are we likely to see? What might Guyanese do to make the best of these opportunities? And, of course, what will we do with the money? Though it tackles big questions, the production still manages to be hilarious. It is styled as a comedy revue based on the Guild’s historical productions of “The Brink” which it produced in the early 1960s prior to Guyana’s Independence in 1967. “The Brink” was the Guild’s best-selling satricial review which saw its last production in the 1970s. “The Brink” is the grandfather to the Theatre Company’s highly successful series – “The Link Show” – upon which it was based and which later spawned other rib-ticklers such as “ Nothing to Laugh About”.

The Theatre Guild’s production gestures to the historic origins of its own “Brink” with this new production by invoking its memory and intent – “Re-Membering the Brink”. The producers  even incorporate some old material from the Brink in 1964 and 1967 in this new show. However, “Re-membering the Brink: Oil and a Whole Lotta Gas” seeks to innovate around the old idea of satire and to move towards what may be very timely and urgently necessary in Guyana: the unpacking of the complex arena of oil and gas for the populace. It may be seen as complementing but not focusing on issues which have already been in the public domain for some time. Rather its focus is on introspection while simplifying, edifying and reflecting the present and future of Guyana not only with oil, but also other topical issues – hence “a whole lotta gas”. The production focuses on what we can learn through fun and laughter.

“Oil and a Whole Lotta Gas” is set, as the Brink shows of old, in a fictitious country named “Oiligamey”. The show was created by the Theatre Guild’s Workshop – an ensemble of 39 old and new Guild members – in response to numerous calls for a popular response to the issues at hand. Thirteen rollicking comedy sketches are interspersed with music and dance pieces. Theatregoers will be delighted to see some of their older favourites such as Godfrey Naughton, Simeon Dowding, Sharon Taylor, Colleen Humphrey and Malcolm Defreitas, alongside new stars like Clinton Duncan, Mosa Telford, Keon Heywood, Jennifer Kendall, Kanini Fyffe, Frederick Minty, Kim Fernandes, Sherwin Adams and Kelton Jennings. The cast also features a number of new and exciting talents such as Jairo Rodrigues, Natasha Azzeez, Shivina DeMendonca, Garrian Yannick Moses and Ronaldo Thomas. The set and costumes are by award-winning designer Neilson Nurse.

Re-membering The Brink: Oil and a Whole Lotta Gas will open with a premiere performance and runs through to the May 29 from 20:00 hrs each day. There will be two free matinee performances for children on May 30  and 31 underwritten by local oil company CGX Energy.