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Sunday 25 August 2019
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Back-to-back memorials for Choo Kong

Raymond Choo Kong
Raymond Choo Kong

On Monday, the day Raymond Choo Kong died, the theatre community came together at the Little Carib Theatre and swore they would give their icon a send-off the country would never forget.

The community swiftly organised a show to celebrate the life and memory of the actor, writer, director, producer and builder of TT's theatre industry.

Newsday spoke to Safa Niamat-Ali, secretary of the National Drama Association (NDATT), who said on Thursday it would host a show called Everybody Loves Raymond at Queen's Hall, St Ann's.

The show is a celebration of Choo Kong's life and theatre career and will feature performances from his previous plays and musical acts. The house opens at 7pm and the show starts at 7.30pm.

"Raymond was someone I could always count on for support, critique and advice, even if we disagreed with each other's approaches at times. He was an example of how theatre practitioners could be successful in T&T.

"It was great to have him at the Playwrights Workshop Trinbago readings, because his feedback was always phenomenal, making playwrights think about their target audience, who would pay to see that show, where they want to stage it – things a producer would think of that some playwrights don't consider. His feedback was straightforward and brutally honest. His willingness to teach and pass on his knowledge to everyone was inspiring, and he touched the lives of almost everyone he met. He will be missed," Niamat-Ali said.

PrideTT wanted to ensure that Choo Kong is remembered as a member of the LGBTIQ+ community who contributed to national development, and hence there will be another memorial, to commemorate Choo Kong as a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) community. This will be at the Little Carib Theatre at 7pm on Friday.

Rudy Hanamji, chief co-ordinator of PrideTT, said the gay identity of black and brown bodies was often erased from history, and the memorial was a way to ensure he was remembered.

"NDATT is focusing on his contribution as theatre icon, but we are slightly different, because we are remembering Raymond as a member of the LGBT community. Last year he was outspoken at the Pride showcase," Hanamji said.

PrideTT will stage live performances and screenings of past performances and will showcase excerpts from Norman, Is That You? Former members of the Diva drag show cast will also perform. People will also be invited to talk about the impact of Choo Kong on their lives.

Choo Kong was killed in the middle of Pride Month. He was an active contributor to PrideTT, and on July 26 his play Diva Returns! is scheduled to be performed.

A flyer from NDATT said there will be no wake at the comedian's Arima home, as the space is still under police investigation. On Monday relatives found Choo Kong's body there. He had been stabbed multiple times.

Police investigations continue.

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