Kevin Zimmerman writes about how the theatrical production “Sanco: A Guyanese Thriller!” came about. The play will be performed on April 10 – April 19 (Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays at 5 pm) at the Springfield Gardens Church of Christ, located at 144-04 Farmers Boulevard., Springfield Gardens in Jamaica, New York.
In April 2014, Hillcrest High School theater teacher Harlan Penn traveled to Guyana as part of a church mission, but took time to meet with several acting companies while there. His grandparents emigrated from the Bahamas and his wife, Claudette, had come to New York from Jamaica, so Penn, 38, always had an interest in Caribbean culture. And his career in stage design — he works at Hillcrest High’s Theatre Institute as technical director as well as a freelance designer — plays to his interest in what happens behind the curtain.
He was impressed with the burgeoning theater scene located in the country’s capital city of Georgetown, but quickly noticed something was missing. [. . .] Back home in Elmont, L.I., Penn decided his first step should be to raise money for the effort. So he set about to co-produce a show with the Theater Guild of Guyana. Unfortunately, his work proved futile. [. . .] So, the deacon at the Springfield Gardens Church of Christ figured he would start his own.
Within a couple of months of his trip, Penn formed and received non-profit status for his American-Caribbean Theatre Alliance. By August of last year, the group had staged its first production, “Uncle Joe’s Patty Shop.” The original comedy, written by Penn, was set in a patty shop — the Jamaican version of an empanada, a patty comes with a variety of fillings and baked in a flaky shell — and focused on the employees, customers and owners of the Chinese restaurant next door.
[. . .] That’s a theme Penn carried over to the group’s second show, “What Goes Up, Must Come Down,” which it performed in January. In that play, also set in Jamaica and also written by Penn, a young married couple basically prove they are willing to do anything to get to the United States. The wife even ends up buying a U.S. visa.
[. . .] “Sanco: A Guyanese Thriller!” begins with the murder of a young Indo-Guyanese woman, the daughter of one of the country’s political ministers, and follows two police detectives, the veteran Afro-Guyanese and rookie Indo-Guyanese, as they attempt to find her killer before the country collapses into a racially charged civil war. Although purely fiction, Penn’s new play draws on the real history of racial conflicts that continue to divide Guyana’s two largest ethnic groups. [. . .]
For more information, call (347) 551-7468 or see www.actashows.com
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For full article, see http://www.timesledger.com/stories/2015/13/play_2015_03_27_q.html
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