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Two Plays: Couvade & A Pleasant Career

Authors: Michael Gilkes

Published by Peepal Tree Press

ISBN: 9781845231897

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Re-issue of two classics of Caribbean theatre; part of Peepal Tree’s popular Caribbean Modern Classics series.

Couvade, first performed in Guyana in 1972 and published by Cape in 1974, references the Amerindian ritual where the man takes to his bed and ‘suffers’ some equivalent to the pains of childbirth while his partner is in labour. And while Pat is giving birth, her artist husband Lionel has become obsessed with the Amerindian-style painting he is working on... Couvade is a powerful dream-play of ritual, shamanism and the overwhelming forces of the past.

A Pleasant Career is based on the biography of the pioneering Guyanese novelist, Edgar Mittelholzer. The play explores Mittelholzer’s early experiences of the racial and class hierarchies of British Guiana, of being the ‘swarthy’ boy in a predominantly white family, and of his resolute determination to beat down the doors of the London publishing world. It also gazes into some of the demons within, held in creative balance in his earlier years, but ending later in a fiery suicide. Despite its unassuming title, A Pleasant Career is a richly rewarding play of dramatic incident and psychological speculation.

Michael Gilkes was born in Guyana in 1935. He is a distinguished Caribbean critic and dramatist, and more recently a film-maker. A Pleasant Career won the prestigious Guyana Prize for Drama in 1992. He won the Guyana Prize again in 2006 for his play The Last of the Redmen. He now lives in Bermuda.

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