If fine theatre is magic, then “Demerara Gold,” Ingrid Griffith’s solo-show is pure alchemy... the mythical practice of turning ordinary substance into gold. The show will be held at the Starlite Pavilion, Richmond Hill on Sunday, Dec. 21 at 3:00 p.m.
Guyana is a small English speaking country on the shoulder of South America, bordering on Venezuela and Brazil. Georgetown, its capital, sits at the confluence of two rivers that thunder from the Amazon down through the mountains to the Atlantic Ocean.
Guyanese men have long ventured into the canopied jungle to mine some of the purest gold in the world. Ingrid Griffith’s own grandfather dug precious metal out of the red dirt and forged raging rivers to carry his gold back home. But he gave his granddaughter another even more valuable gift. In “Demerara Gold,” a seven-year old girl is left behind in Guyana in the care of her grandmother when her parents get visas to the United States of America. The girl finally reunites with her parents in America. She finds the promised wonders of America, but also a family unlike the one she remembers. Aspirations and reality have collided. Assimilation has taken its toll and that’s when the girl in “Demerara Gold” reaches deep and reclaims her true birthright.
Ingrid Griffith, is the writer and performer of this one-woman show. She is a gifted actress who with subtle adjustments of voice and bearing transforms herself from an arthritic grandmother to a swashbuckling gold prospector in an instant. She is also a beautiful woman and graceful performer who excels at both farce and confrontation. The audience will roll with laughter as the young girl in Guyana challenges her grandmother’s authority, not with back talk but with a full-body African dance. Viewers will be captivated as the same child, now a teenager in America, stands like a goddess of war to make wrong right.
“Demerara Gold” reaches back to the rhythm and heartbeat of the Caribbean. In the first part of the show, the audience hears the music of the street masquerade in Guyana as “flute players, drummers and flouncers dance in the street.” In the second part of the show, the play moves to America and the audience witnesses the teenager acclimating to her new home and rousing sexuality, all while laying bare a side of the American dream that is hardly discussed.
Griffith explains that her inspiration for “Demerara Gold” was to abolish the one dimensional image of the immigrant family that faces obstacles together and lives happily ever after. “I wrote this play to celebrate my journey but also to share the other side of diaspora... the one that no one talks about. Attention must be paid to that price as well so that we stop the cycle that pulls our families and communities apart.”
The play grew out of a workshop taught by New York based solo-show coach, Matt Hoverman. Hoverman helped Griffith identify the narrative thread that keeps “Demerara Gold” charging forward to its heart pounding conclusion. But it is Griffith who takes “Demerara Gold” to its hilarious and dramatic heights.