Derek Walcott to premiere new play in Essex


The Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott will direct the premiere of his new play about Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin at the University of Essex, as Daisy Bowie-Sell reports in this article for London’s Telegraph.

Derek Walcott’s new play O Starry Starry Night! will premiere at the University of Essex in May this year.

The writer is coming to the UK from his home country of St Lucia to direct the play, which is based around a meeting of the artists Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin.

Although known primarily as a poet, Walcott, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1992, has written over 20 plays.

O Starry Starry Night! is set in the south of France, when Gauguin visited van Gogh while he was living in Arles in 1888.

It will feature several high profile actors from Trinidad, including Wendell Manwarren and Nigel Scott. Scott said of the production: “You do not turn down a master. Not when you have seen him rise from bright, sharp-penned, theatre critic, emerging poet and playwright, into a Nobel laureate at the height of his creative power!”

He added: “This is a culmination of a lifetime in theatre, working with perhaps the brightest talent in the world. It does not get any better.”

Walcott said: “I am looking forward to taking advantage of the wonderful facilities at the University of Essex and working with the talented creative team at the theatre.”

Walcott founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop in 1959, a company which has produced many of his works, alongside plays by Athol Fugard, Tennessee Williams and Anton Chekhov.

The poet has been a visiting professor of poetry at Essex University for the last four years. He won the TS Eliot prize for poetry in 2011 for his collection White Egrets.

In 2009, Walcott was embroiled in controversy over the Oxford Professor of Poetry candidacy. He was forced to withdraw as a leading candidate for the position after reports of accusations of sexual harassment. At the time he said: “It happened 20 years ago and I have never given my side of the story. That will continue.”

O Starry Starry Night! will run at the Lakeside Theatre, University of Essex from May 2 until May 4. Booking: 01206 873261

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