09 May 2011

UK premiere of Derek Walcott’s Moon-Child a “triumph"

Moon-Child in rehearsals

Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott hopes to return to the University of Essex next year to unveil another show after his new play Moon-Child – Ti Jean in Concert received a standing ovation at its UK premiere at the Lakeside Theatre.

Professor Walcott, who is Professor of Poetry at Essex, directed the production during his two-week residency at the University, which also saw him lead workshops with students in the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies.

Lakeside Theatre director Pasco Kevlin and his team worked closely with Professor Walcott to stage the show with an international cast of actors. A full-house gave the production a rapturous reception.

Dr Maria Cristina Fumagalli, from the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, said: “Derek was ecstatic and is planning to put on another play next year as he enjoyed this so much. Everyone in the audience thought it was brilliant. It was simply a triumph!”

The play was produced by Dr Fumagalli and Penny Woollard. The international cast included actors Wendell Manwarren, Dean Atta and Lesley-Ann Halls, singers Mandisa Knight and Rosie Carter and drummer Dan Sceats.

The performance featured a sound-score by composer Ronald Hinkson and projected images of artwork by Professor Walcott, an accomplished water-colourist and oil painter, and by his artist son Peter Walcott.

The play revisits Professor Walcott’s 1958 play Ti-Jean and His Brothers, first presented at the Little Carib Theatre in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Written in rhymed verse Moon-Child tells the story of three brothers who leave home to seek their fortune. However, in this case it is the idea of home itself that is threatened, as the natural paradise of the island of St. Lucia, once blighted by colonialism and its legacy, is threatened by “a second slavery” in the form of real estate land-grabs for touristic exploitation.

The UK premiere of Moon-Child is part of the Homegrown Festival which showcases work created at the University of Essex or developed by regional partners. For more information see: www.essex.ac.uk/artson5

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