In December 1986, the Cayman Islands was abuzz with anticipation at the grand opening of the only 300 seat theatre. The Harquail Theatre raised the curtains that month on its first major production, with a black tie affair and the crowd-pleasing musical – The Sound of Music. Now, nearly 30 years later, the beloved performing arts centre continues to host musicals, as well as dance productions, magic shows, dramas, comedies, classical concerts, summer camps, festivals, fundraisers, workshops, exhibitions, film screenings, red carpet affairs and a host of other activities. With its iconic soaring blue roof and proscenium stage, designed by architect John Doak, countless Harquail memories are etched in the hearts of artists and patrons.
“The Harquail Theatre is not just a building…it is a creative space in which artists of all kinds can imagine and realise their dreams. It is a space that gives us the permission to suspend our disbelief for a moment and venture into unknown or familiar territory with abandon. It is a safe space as well as a provocative one – asking everyone who enters to allow themselves to let go, for now,” says Henry Muttoo, Artistic Director of the Cayman National Cultural Foundation.
To mark the Harquail’s 30th year, 30 events – new, as well as tried and true – will be billed as anniversary events. First up on the calendar: three back-to-back theatrical productions in the Studio Theatre (the original theatre space, which as the first building constructed on the property, and served as a “temporary” performance venue before and during construction of the larger building).
David Bereaux as Jackson Phillip (left) and Marc Powers as Harry Trewe in PANTOMIME.
The Cultural Foundation and the School of Theatre, University of South Florida have partnered to bring Pantomime by Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott to Cayman, fresh off of performances in Tampa and Nassau, to get the celebrations underway – October 30th and 31st at the Harquail Theatre. A third performance of Pantomime is planned at the Prospect Playhouse on November 1st, a nod to the long history between the Harquail and the Cayman Drama Society. The group produced several plays at the Harquail in the days before the existence of Playhouse. Pantomime, which was described in the New York Times as “fluid”, “funny and fresh” when it was performed off-Broadway (coincidentally) in December 1986, is now considered a Caribbean classic. Deftly directed by Henry Muttoo, this latest production opened in Tampa (to a standing ovation no less) and then travelled to the Bahamas, where it received an equally enthusiastic reception at the Shakespeare in Paradise Festival. Multi-talented performers David Bereaux of Gimistory fame and Marc Powers, Director of the School of Theatre & Dance at University of South Florida, promise to also deliver an unforgettable experience to theatre-goers here, in the first production of the 15-month long season.
Tony award-winning play Sizwe Banzi is Dead by Athol Fugard, with John Kani and Winston Ntshona, will also pay a visit to the Harquail Theatre space on November 13th, 14th and 15th in honour of the 30th anniversary. The “intensely funny and poignant drama” is directed by Philip A. Burrows of the Bahamas and features actors Dion Johnson and Mark Humes. It was hand picked by Muttoo who found their performance to be “…captivating, bold, painfully honest about the physical, psychological and spiritual trauma of the human dilemma…”
To complete the trifecta, The Fallen Angel and the Devil Concubine, a collective creation by Groundwork Theatre Company of Jamaica, starring local actresses Rita Estevanovich and Lesley-ann Bernard, will be staged for 3 nights only on December 4th, 5th and 6th. Many will remember spellbinding actresses Penny Phillips and the late Consuelo Ebanks (pictured below) in the early 90s in this roller coaster ride of a dramedy about two very different women who are very much the same in their maddening desire for a family, acceptance and a place to call home.
A calendar of 30th anniversary events is available on CNCF’s website artscayman.org/calendar and tickets for the first three theatrical productions are on sale now at Foster’s (Strand), Funky Tang’s, Health Care Pharmacy (Grand Harbour) and CNCF offices. Special anniversary ticket packages are available through CNCF for anyone purchasing tickets for all three productions and group rates are also available by calling 949-5477 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, contact:
Name: Rita Estevanovich
Title: Marketing & Development Manager
Phone: 345 949 5477