An emerging faucet in the Belizean society is theatre production. Not only is it an unrestrained outlet for creative expression, but it is a means for keeping the cultures of Belize alive through storytelling. And with this form of art growing increasingly popular among the youth, the need for constructive training is very important. Culture Capital, a drama group birthed in Belmopan is one organization that seeks to nurture aspiring actors and afford opportunities for professional development, i.e. the El Proyecto Lagartija Centroamerica 9th International Acting Workshop, presently taking place in Santa Tecla, El Salvador. We caught up Beverly Swasey, the Director of Capital Culture, who told us about the workshop, geared toward young aspirants throughout Central America.
“This is a yearly event that takes place in one of the countries of Central America. In January 2013, in was right here in Belmopan, Belize. This year it is going to be in El Salvador. It is called an Encuentro. This is the 9th Encuentro of this group; they started in 2004; they will start of with what we call an international workshop where aspiring actors and theatre people, especially actors from Panama, right through up to Belize, will be attending this workshop in El Salvador”.
Swasey joined a contingent in 2009, which was Belize’s first time participating in the workshop. And in 2010, Belize became a fully-fledged member of Lagartija. Representing the country this year, is a promising young actor from Orange Walk, Alex Pate.
Ms. Beverly Swasey: “He has acted for me as well as in September when he participated in the September celebrations presentation or production that Mr. Hipolito Bautista wrote for in “Legacy of Our Ancestors”. In that, he acted as George Price. He is an avid supporter of acting and when I saw him come out all the way to Belmopan to practice, all the way to Belize City to practice, every five days a week sometimes. So, I thought he deserved to go”.
On his return to Belize, as a part of his obligation, Pate will be required to organize and host at least one seminar and produce a written report. The workshop will be facilitated by two world-renowned directors, Aristedes Vargas & Charo Frances of the Collective Malayerba of Ecuador.
While we had Beverly Swasey with us, a long-serving advocate for theatre production in Belize, we got her impression on this very aspect.
Ms. Beverly Swasey: “It is something that explains sporadically. Maybe on special occasions, people will put up a drama production either to raise funds or to celebrate the 10th but things like that, or Christmas pageants and so on, but it’s not something that is encouraging the school or program in the schools and I think that we need to do it all the way down and in the infants. They have festival of the arts every year but once a year the teachers will come together and try to regroup students to put off a show. But I think it should happen more often; at least once a month we should have a drama performance in the different districts, etc. Here in Belmopan, I try to do it once a year. Last year I did not do any in Belmopan because I was involved with the September celebrations”.
Ms. Beverly Swasey: “I want to see that when tourists come here. they can plan to come a certain time of the year because there will be this drama production at the Bliss or here in Belmopan. So, I want to see a national theatre not only at the Bliss, but also here in Belmopan,. the capital, and to train as many young people as possible in theatre because am getting older now and soon i won’t be able to do as much as I used to do, but if we have the young people that are trained and know the different disciplines and so on, they can carry on the work“.