Gilkes was born in Georgetown (Guyana). His involvement with theatre began when he was about 12 years old, working in school theatre, and he went on to become involved with the Theatre Guild of Guyana.
Gilkes taught at a number of universities in the Caribbean, Canada and the United Kingdom over the past 40 years, including at the University of Kent at Canterbury, the University of Warwick, the University of Guyana, the University of the West Indies (where he served as Reader in English and Head of the English department) in Barbados and the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College in St. Lucia.[ He was a Quillian Visiting Professor at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. In Bermuda he directed plays and taught a theatre workshop put on by the Department of Community & Cultural Affairs at The Berkeley Institute.
His work includes Couvade: A Dream-play of Guyana (published 1974), Wilson Harris and the Caribbean Novel (1975), and The Literate Imagination: Essays on the Novels of Wilson Harris (1989). An unfinished project that Gilkes was working on was the film Maira and the Jaguar People, set in the Rupununi in 2016, with a cast mainly featuring the indigenous Makushi population of Surama.
His play Couvade was first performed at the first Carifesta in 1972, and in 1978 was produced at the Keskidee Centre in London, directed by Rufus Collins, with a cast including Imruh Caesar and others.
Gilkes died in London on 14 April 2020, aged 86, after contracting COVID-19.
Join the first Windrush Caribbean Film Festival for our Media Launch, Sneak Preview and SPECIAL Michael Gilkes Tribute with SARGASSO! A CARIBBEAN LOVE STORY
Book on this link 29th Sept 6:30pm Patrick Vernon OBE and Natalie Barnes (daughter of the late Windrush campaigner Paulette Wilson) join forces with award-winning film producer and director Frances-Anne Solomon to launch the Inaugural Windrush Caribbean Film Festival.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS (British Standard Time)
6:30pm WCFF2020 Introduction
6:45pm Panel on the Windrush Generation
with Patrick Vernon, Natalie Barnes, Frances-Anne Solomon and Garry Stewart
7:30pm Tribute to Michael Gilkes
with Christopher Laird and Michael Gilkes’ son, Mark Gilkes
7:50pm Featured Screening – Sargasso! A Caribbean Love Story