Watch Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott’s new play online and listen to his thoughts

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You can now watch online the world première of Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott’s new play O Starry Starry Night and hear him discuss the play which had a sell-out run at the Lakeside Theatre at the University of Essex.

The show has just premièred in the Caribbean and this is a chance for fans of Professor Walcott, who is Professor of Poetry at Essex, to see his latest work if they have not been able to catch it in the UK or on his home island of St Lucia.

Professor Walcott is recognised as one of the world’s greatest living writers. He flew over to the UK especially in May from his home in the Caribbean to see the first ever performance of his play which is based around the troubled relationship between Van Gogh and Gauguin.

The University’s own video team captured the performance and released their film online so the play can be shared with Walcott fans around the world along with academics researching his work.

Professor Walcott also discussed his work on two podcasts recorded just before he flew back to the Caribbean.

After seeing the performance at the Lakeside, Professor Walcott said: “I cried a lot – I wept – with joy at seeing it done. I am very proud and pleased with the play and proud of the actors. It is devastating, devastating joy which I feel. For any artist to get the support I have received from the University is immense. I think it is a huge benediction for me.”

Professor Walcott initially worked with the actors in the Caribbean, then provided support and advice to the actors and production team via Skype video calls before flying over to the UK.

He especially chose the Lakeside Theatre to unveil his new show about the relationship between Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin due to the creative links which have developed between Professor Walcott, the Lakeside Theatre production team and academics at Essex since he was appointed Professor of Poetry within the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies.

Professor Walcott is celebrated for both his poetry and his plays – he founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop in 1959 and the Boston Playwrights Theatre in 1981 and has seen his work performed around the world.

He drew together a cast of outstanding Trinidadian actors for the production plus UK-based actors including influential musician and actor Wendell Manwarren, longstanding Walcott collaborator Nigel Scott and international opera star and actor Brian Carter-Green. London-based Trinidadian actor Martina Laird, well known to UK audiences through her role inCasualty and her work on Moon on a Rainbow Shawl last year at the National Theatre.

The UK production was overseen by Lakeside artistic director Barbara Peirson with Essex graduate Genine Sumner as production manager.

Essex Drama student Mike Prokopiou was also cast in the show and students were involved in the technical side of the show including second year drama student Eloise Thyne as Stage Manager and first year drama student Christine Gomes as Assistant Stage Manager.

The Caribbean premiere of O Starry Starry Night was on Thursday 8 August in St Lucia with many of the original cast members appearing.

Ends

For more information contact the University of Essex Communications Office on 01206 874377 or e-mail: comms@essex.ac.uk.

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