09 October 2012

Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott’s production of Pantomime launched on YouTube

Scene from Pantomime

Wendell Manwarren and David Tarkenter in Pantomime at the Lakeside Theatre.

Students, academics and people from around the world can now watch online the new production of Pantomime directed at the University of Essex by Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott.

In May, Walcott flew over especially from St Lucia to direct the premiere of a new production of his play at the Lakeside Theatre at the Colchester Campus as part of his role as Professor of Poetry. The show was a huge success with the Lakeside Theatre packed out throughout its three night run and fans travelling from across Europe to see the production.

Now a recording of the show is being made available on the University of Essex’s dedicated YouTube channel. At the same time there is also a chance to watch Walcott discussing his work with award-winning poet Glyn Maxwell, who is also a lecturer in the Centre for Creative Writing at the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies (LiFTS).

Professor Maria Cristina Fumagalli and Penny Woollard, from LiFTS, co-produced Pantomime at the Lakeside.

Professor Fumagalli, who has published extensively on Walcott and has introduced many Essex students to his work, said: “It was wonderful to bring Pantomime to the general public at the Lakeside Theatre. Derek was inspiring and everyone worked really hard to make it happen. Now it is very exciting to know that this extraordinary production is going to be available to everyone.”

Penny is completing a PhD on Derek Walcott’s poetry and plays under the supervision of Professor Fumagalli and will also teach a class on the play in the spring term. She said: “The video recording of the play, directed by the author, will enable the students to experience Derek’s own interpretation of the characters, which will bring the play to life for them.”

For the past three years, Walcott, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992 and the T S Eliot Prize in 2011, has been visiting the University of Essex to teach students, give talks and readings, and direct his own plays.

This was believed to be the first production of Pantomime for the UK stage for close to 30 years and was originally written in the late 1970s. The play is a satirical reinterpretation of the Robinson Crusoe story and investigates a whole range of issues from colonialism to the creative process through the relationship between former English song-and-dance man Harry Trewe and his servant Jackson Phillip.

The show starred David Tarkenter, a leading member of the Mercury Theatre Acting Company, and Trinidadian actor Wendell Manwarren, both handpicked by Walcott who was supported by the Lakeside Theatre production team.

During his visit in May, Walcott said: “I feel very privileged. This is a lovely little theatre and they help me do what I want to do. It feels like it is the fulfilment of something.”


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

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