Guyanese Playwright and Filmmaker Sir Ian Valz Passes Away

Guyanese playwright, award-winning filmmaker, and actor Sir Ian Valz (52) passed away on Wednesday night, April 28, 2010, in St. Maarten, his adopted home, after a battle with cancer. Fondly called Sir Ian by those close to him, Valz was knighted in 2006 by the Dutch Queen for his services to Dutch culture as one of the most successful playwrights, actors, and radio personalities in St Maarten. Sir Ian’s knighthood in St. Maarten was “a testimony to his tremendous contributions on the island and by extension the region.”

Valz, who was an integral part of the development of Guyanese theatre in the eighties, is well known for his many contributions to dramatic production, from the early radio serial drama, House of Pressure to popular stage shows such as Two’s a Crowd and Masquerade. Masquerade (House of Nehesi Publishers, 1988) was nominated for the Guyana Prize for Literature in 1992. Valz went onto to release a film, Panman, Rhythm of the Palms (2008), which was successful in the region and later won an award in the United States.

According to Gem Mahdoo-Nascimento, Valz stimulated interest in theatre among young playwrights during the 1980s and was responsible for attracting a grassroots audience to the Guyana National Culture Centre, as part of a new burst of new energy in theatre, which included playwrights such as Michael Duff, Ken Danns, Ronald Hollingsworth, and Paloma Mohammed, among others. “

Offering its condolences to Valz’s family, relatives, and colleagues, the Guyana Ministry of Culture described Valz as a “consummate Caribbean professional [. . .] blessed with abundant creative energy” and “truly a Guyanese artist with the whole Caribbean as his stage.”

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