The term Drama Queen personifies Tashandra Inniss. This Drama Queen is usually the quiet one in the room, the one who never says a word even if it bites her. She’s quite the go getter and believes in second chances.
Tashandra always knew she had a knack for writing, for her there was always a constant battle between poetry and short stories. Her journey started back when the “loyalists” in poetry at the Side Walk Café were Natasha Blu Martindale, Raule Williams, and Kojo McPherson to name a few and Gysphere was THE most talked about Guyanese Poetry website. The website later expanded its focus to include Guyanese with a flair for short stories and art. This is when Tashandra decided to try her hand (literally) at short stories. It was here that she wrote a short story that she will never forget, it was far from perfect but the encouragement she received from her fellow poets was all that she’d needed to never give up on writing.
In the beginning, Tashandra found pleasure in writing poetry but she was too nervous to ever recite her own work. “I would never miss a poetry night at Side Walk Café but my nerves took the best of me every time Blu asked me to perform a piece and a part of that fear also led me to acting.” Acting was seen as a way to rid herself of nervous Tashandra; she also continued to write to rid herself of this nervous side, her writings were real and as a result theatre blossomed.
Though she appreciates acting, it’s her love for writing that keeps her grounded. So she’s moved from poetry to short stories to plays. “I’m sticking with writing because from behind the pen I am in control of everything and it’s a beautiful feeling, when someone reads your work or sees your work on stage.” Writing is seen as a way for Tashandra to challenge her quiet self. On social media Tashandra is bubbly but in person she shuts down, writing is used to dare her, to keep her busy, now she says her friends think she talks too much and her family says ‘This girl mouth could run’.
Writing is easy but with hard work comes major accomplishments. For Tashandra, her most notable one would have to be starting and completing the Playwriting workshop under Merundoi Inc conducted by Dr. Paloma Mohamed. “It was something that I’d longed for and when the opportunity came… I didn’t even think it through I just jumped on board and did what I had to do.”
This Drama Queen loves all of her writing equally, “All my writings are my babies, every piece that I’ve put out is considered my new born. I cuddle, I nurture, I’m a mommy… there’s no favourite.” What has helped her a lot in her writing is something that she leaned from Dr. Paloma Mohamed in Playwriting workshop – the importance of a journal. She professed, “It’s helpful to keep a journal and to write in it as often as possible. Whatever happens during the day that caused you to think or something you hated or loved, just write it down.” Tashandra finds herself walking with her journal everywhere and if she forgets it home she uses her Blackberry as her note pad. It is her hope to keep her plays as real life as possible – “There’s so much that’s going on in Guyana and not everyone knows about it, so through my plays I hope to tell the tale”
Tashandra’s love for theatre propelled her and a group of friends to form Drama Queens. Drama Queens is a group made up of four friends – Tashandra, Leslyn Fraser, Lloyda Nicholas and Seffrah Frith – with crazy drama (personal issues) in their lives who felt that they were rising above these issues, since 3 of them were already apart of theatre, the name Drama Queens fitted them perfectly. Leslyn and Lloyda are the other members who are very passionate about the stage aspect of their lives and along with Tashandra they hope to be producers one day and they seized that opportunity when Lloyda suggested they do a production in 2013.
They went ahead and launched Drama Queens Productions; they wanted to be remembered for their first production, they also wanted to be different and daring so they started with “Love and Madness”. This production went way out the box; actually according to Tashandra they turned the box upside down. Drama Queens Production is one of Guyana’s newest theatre companies and the girls aim to always give quality productions with a big difference, most of their shows will be different but bold.
Tashandra believes that her best role is yet to come – “Every time I’m on stage I feel a new zest and I always seek to better my last.” However, her most challenging role was found in Mosa Mathifa’s play SAUDA where she was made to play a 15 year old girl – “It was THE most challenging role for me because I saw my younger days being played out by me. Trying to accept what society sees in a dark skinned girl, what they say about us and how we felt about ourselves. SAUDA has instilled in me a whole new love for myself and my complexion. Just beautiful writing by Mosa!”
She believes that much more can be done to improve theatre in Guyana including more than just the annual Drama Festival. She thinks that here is a need for drama to be taught in school and the development of more Street Theatre – “Merundoi is already doing a great job with that but we need more of it.” Currently there’s the Drama School which offers a solid ground on Theatre training but in her belief there is the need for more people who are absolutely passionate about the Arts to get things done.
“Our younger generation has so much to say and what better way to say it than through The Arts?!”