Guyanese playwright Michael Gilkes dies from COVID-19 complications

Michael Gilkes

FAMOUS Guyanese playwright and author, Michael Gilkes has died.

Reports are that Gilkes, who lived in the United Kingdom, contracted the coronavirus and died of complications in London. He was 87.

Gilkes’ last major project here was the movie “Maira and the Jaguar People”, a film which was set in the Rupununi in 2016.

The shoot was held in Surama, a predominantly Macushi village in the North Rupununi, where the story is set.

The production team included famed Cuban visual artist and director of photography, Omar Estrada and his crew, who flew in to capture the film on location.

During the shoot, the residents of Surama reportedly benefitted directly from the production of the film, since they were actively involved in the technical and casting aspects of the production. The film was released in 2017.

Gilkes is a distinguished Caribbean critic, dramatist and former lecturer at several Universities, and more recently, a filmmaker.

His critical work includes ‘Wilson Harris and the Caribbean Novel (1975)’; ‘The Literate Imagination (1989)’, which is also about Harris; and ‘The West Indian Novel, Twayne’.

His play, ‘Couvade’, was published by Cape in 1974, while ‘A Pleasant Career’, a play about the life and work of Edgar Mittelholzer, won the prestigious Guyana Prize for Drama in 1992. ‘Joanstown’ won the 2002 Guyana Prize for best book of poetry. He won the 2006 Guyana Prize for drama with his play, ‘The Last of the Redmen’.