Walcott’s new play comes to the Caribbean

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Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott’s latest play, O Starry Starry Night, opens in St Lucia today as part of the 16th Triennial Conference of the Association for Commonwealth Literature, Trinidad’s Guardian reports. 

The play, starring Trinidadian actors Brian Green, Wendell Manwarren and Nigel Scott, will run from today to Saturday. St Lucian actress Natalie LaPorte will replace Martina Laird. The play is being produced by Landmark Events and Warwick Productions.

O Starry Starry Night premiered at the University of Essex in May. Walcott, who has written more than 20 books of poetry and plays and has won numerous awards, has been a professor at Essex since 2009.

The play was written last year and will be published in 2014 according to Walcott’s daughter, Anna Walcott-Hardy. She is working to bring the play to T&T in October.

The Essex production was well-received and tickets sold out every night, she added. Proceeds from the Essex production went towards a new Derek Walcott Scholarship at the school for a promising student in the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies.

Set in the late 1800s, O Starry Starry Night delves into the meeting of artists Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gaugin. The play is set during Van Gogh’s visit to Gaugin’s home in Arles, France.

“Its about the isolation of being an artist, about friendship. Of course, it’ll be different for everybody, but it’s also about continuing to keep a certain standard. Both artists wanted to perfect the craft,” said Walcott-Hardy.

She added that Walcott, who is also a painter (some of his watercolours were published with 2009 collection Tiepolo’s Hound), has done several paintings of Gaugin, which they hope to sell soon as museum prints in order to raise funds for the T&T production.

Walcott will be coming to T&T in October and will be here in September as well for the T&T Film Festival (ttff). A documentary about Walcott by filmmaker Ida Does will be screened at ttff. Walcott was unable to direct the May production of O Starry Starry Night due to illness. However, he was able to work with the director through video conferencing. Walcott also designed the costumes and provided storyboards for the set design. He has directed the St Lucia production and will do the same in T&T.

Walcott-Hardy said her father is very active as he continues to paint and write every day. She said he also hosts many writers in St Lucia such as Seamus Heaney, Arthur Miller and Glen Maxwell.

In an interview with the St Lucia Star last week, Walcott said having Green, Manwarren and Scott in the production amounted to having the “national theatre of Trinidad.” Walcott added that the quality of work produced is just as good as those he’s worked with abroad and that he had a “great respect for their talent.”

For the original report go to http://guardian.co.tt/entertainment/2013-08-07/walcott’s-new-play-comes-caribbean

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