Producers of shows face problems at National Cultural Centre
Stabroek News
September 21, 2001

Dear Editor,

Hidden beneath the plush, recently-painted and renovated exterior and beneath the newly installed sound system of the National Cultural Centre (NCC) lie many, many silent sins.

The producers of `Silent Sins,' a production staged on September l & 2, 2001 by the Christian Performing Arts submitted scripts seven weeks before the play to the relevant official at the National Cultural Centre. No response was had up to three weeks before the play, when the producers had to seek out the official for the approval of the script.

When enquiries about a production meeting and date to paint the board at the National Cultural Centre were made we were assured that everything was on stream. After repeated attempts to reach the official it was realised that the person had proceeded on vacation and we were informed that the scripts were locked in the official's office. Hence, we had a production meeting (a meeting with all technical staff) with no scripts!

Rehearsal dates were set for August 29, 30 and 3l at the NCC. On the grand rehearsal night (full rehearsal) the standing microphones requested at the production meeting were nowhere to be seen, and we were informed, quite casually, that none would be made available until the production night. This erupted into an immediate notification of the manageress.

No response has ever been conveyed to us, and we were left to continue the rehearsal with some microphones (not working) thrown on the floor.

The sound technician, a different person from the one who took the cues for the previous two rehearsals, was off in his cues and this led to disruptions in the rehearsal.

One would have thought that with all the snags and audible disapproval from the producers, that the actual productions would have been good, but lo and behold, it got worse.

In addition to the problems with sound, the back-stage technical management was inadequate, leading to quite an amateur show from the technical staff of NCC. Many were the excuses heard from them. Acceptable? Quite the opposite.

How can one be expected to accept such a show of inadequacy not only from the management but from the staff, when one has to invest time, energy, and finance in this venture?

The cost of rental of the NCC is $40,000 per night and $30,000 per night, if the auditorium alone is used. Then one has to pay for the bar, for the ushers, for their transportation to and from the NCC, for videotaping one's own production, for set construction (in this case in excess of $60,000), for the painting of the board at NCC, for salaries for the actors/actresses, for advertisements in the media (in this case in excess of $100,000)...and the list goes on.

For one to engage in this huge task of staging a production at the NCC, one has to have faith to see it through. The behaviour of the staff of the NCC only places added stress on the producer. But the buck doesn't stop there. With the sale of tickets, NCC takes one quarter of all ticket money, regardless of whether or not a profit is made!

Amazing? Not quite. Disgraceful? We believe so! The late President Burnham would 'turn in his grave' if he knew what the institution that he inaugurated in 1972 to promote local talent, had fallen to.

Many producers are leaving, and many talents are being denied on account of the present administration of the National Cultural Centre.

Is this just a matter of one who knows not that he knows not? Or is it that he knows not and knows that he knows not but cannot help himself? Even so, it's these silent sins that have brought the downfall of local theatre in Guyana.

As a direct result, Christian Performing Arts has joined the long line of talent that has wended its way out of the NCC, never to return, unless some noteworthy change is made in the quality of management and the cost of staging a performance at the NCC.

What a sad day in theatre!

Yours faithfully,

Fitzroy and Jianna Tyrrell