Derek Walcott and West Indian Drama: Not Only a Playwright but a Company, the Trinidad Theatre Workshop 1959-1993

Derek Walcott and West Indian Drama: Not Only a Playwright but a Company, the Trinidad Theatre Workshop 1959-1993

Derek Walcott and West Indian Drama: Not Only a Playwright but a Company, the Trinidad Theatre Workshop 1959-1993

Derek Walcott and West Indian Drama: Not Only a Playwright but a Company, the Trinidad Theatre Workshop 1959-1993

Synopsis

Written at Derek Walcott's suggestion, and based on interviews with the playwright and actors, this is the first detailed study of a post-colonial theatre company and the problems of creating `serious' theatre in the former colonies. The book shows how Walcott strove to create a world class theatre ensemble in the West Indies - a Trinidadian Brecht Berliner ensemble - and traces his life and career in West Indian theatre, and the history of the Trinidad Theatre Workshop. Beginning with an actors' studio and the vision of a West Indian theatre company of international standards with its own style of acting, Derek Walcott developed the most important theatre company in the West Indies. This was the company which first performed his Dream on Monkey Mountain, the musical version of Ti-Jean and his Brothers, The Joker of Seville, and O Babylon! A major contribution to West Indian history and theatre, Bruce King's study reveals the heroic will of Derek Walcott and his actors, and their determination to prove that West Indian drama was a force with which to be reckoned.

Excerpt

One of the best poets writing in English, Derek Walcott is also a major dramatist, certainly the most important West Indian dramatist. When he began he saw himself as the heir of such poet dramatists as Marlowe and Shakespeare; as, however, there was little amateur West Indian theatre, and no professional theatre, Walcott at first thought he would need to leave the Caribbean to see his plays properly performed. Instead he decided to stay and create a worldclass theatre company which he would lead and direct, and for which he would write. It would be a West Indian equivalent of Brecht Berlin Ensemble. He would somehow find ways to earn his living from the theatre in the West Indies. He would also create a specifically West Indian style of acting, as distinctive and recognizable as Noh or Kabuki theatre. To do this Walcott had to find the actors, dancers, technicians, and stage hands; he had to produce, design, find theatres for, direct, and stage his plays; he needed to create his audience, raise local critical standards, and shape the debate about the nature and future of Caribbean culture. He would show by doing that the creation of great theatre by a great drama company was the true West Indian revolution, the true liberation from the burden and shame of history, in contrast to tyrannical post-colonial governments that falsely claimed to speak for the people. This is a book about that vision, what was required to transform such a vision into reality, the harsh actualities, and the results in productions of such plays as Ti-Jean and his Brothers, Dream on Monkey Mountain, The Joker of Seville and O Babylon!.

This is also a book about Walcott's love of his creation, the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, and the Workshop's love of Walcott through its dedication to his vision of what his actors could achieve. Like most true romances it consists of many details of its heroic struggle to survive, of great accomplishments, disappointments, bitter quarrels, a long . . .

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