Title: The Trinidad Theatre Workshop: Pioneers and Premières. The Danny Campbell Photograph Collection. (Foreword by Ralph Campbell.)|
Retail price: US$10.00 TT$60.00 £6.00 Can$15.00 €9.00
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Binding: Softcover. 40 pages.
Publication Date: May 1, 2000
Dimensions (in inches, H x W): 10.75 x 6.5
For commentary on The Trinidad Theatre Workshop: Pioneers and Premières., go to any of the following locations in this document:
Culled from the photograph library of Daniel A. "Danny" Campbell, a contemporary of Derek Walcott at UCWI in Jamaica, this booklet serves as a memorial to the first public performance in May 1962, and some founding actors of the Little Carib Theatre Workshop. In time, to be called the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, these pioneers paved the way for the most important theatre company in the West Indies, and indeed became part of theatre and West Indian history.
At the Little Carib Theatre in Port of Spain in May 1962, Dennis Scott's "The Caged" and Samuel Beckett's "Krapp's Last Tape" were performed for the public. Campbell, armed with his Yashica 635 twin-lens reflex camera, was on spot to capture the rehearsals of these performances. Discovered after 35 years, Danny Campbell's negatives--two strips of 12 exposure Kodak™120 roll type film--notes and portraits record the initial stage of Derek Walcott's dream of a world class theatre incorporating West Indian dance movements and speech patterns. Ralph Campbell's essay connects the time, place and people involved. He is Daniel Campbell's younger brother, and one of those pioneers in the Workshop captured here. Ralph was there, and as such acts as the nexus who completes the circle.
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...from the publisher
"In the beginning Derek Walcott created the Little Carib Theatre Workshop. And the Trinidad theatre was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the faces of the audience. And the spirit of Derek moved upon the faces of the actors. And Derek said, `Let there be professionalism in the theatre,' and there was." The allusion to Genesis I:1-3 is deliberate for this marked the genesis of a unique West Indian theatre; truly an event of biblical proportions in the history of Trinidad theatre. Of a man called "the most important dramatist in the West Indies", and who calls himself "not only a playwright but a company, and not only a company but also a form," the parallels should not be taken as blasphemous.
The opportunity to freeze frame the action of a developing theatre was providential. Some thirty five years later, with the photographs' discovery and the process of identification and compilation moving in earnest, one was surprised at the lack of connection with that time and place in history. The circumstances of Walcott's request for "mugshots" are lost forever in the faded memory of surviving actors and Walcott. God bless Ralph Campbell, a one-time critic of Walcott, for his illuminating essay.
The balance between the fragility of memory and the possibility of history in the relative sense points to a tragedy unfolding in the modern Caribbean. "We do not write our own history, it's written after we're gone," is an ironic adage in the West Indies where the oral tradition of the storyteller is still alive. The onus to commit to record--film, video, disc and paper--and preserve must not be carelessly viewed as others' pursuits. Our history deems this necessary.
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Excerpt from Foreword
In the hindsight of laureateship, the production of The Caged and Krapp's Last Tape traces a journey through lives of a new people--West Indian people, a new theatre--Derek Walcott's Theatre Workshop housed at Beryl McBurnie's Little Carib Theatre (then, a "shed" where a unique theatre space was crafted), a new history. In so short a space of time, these photographs have become heirlooms.
These pictures of Derek Walcott's company of actors at the first public production of his Little Carib Theatre Workshop were taken by Danny Campbell, my late brother and dearest friend of Walcott. Back in 1950, Derek and Danny were young geniuses out of their respective islands (St. Lucia, and Trinidad via Jamaica) together at the new University College of the West Indies at Mona, Jamaica.
Derek already was a published poet and playwright, and Danny was an accomplished musician and campus photographer. Under Philip Sherlock and Errol Hill, Derek's plays formed the heart of a theatre movement at Mona. Danny captured many of those days on film....
By 1960, Derek and Danny were both resident in Trinidad, married to Trinidadian women, and it would seem only natural that Derek would have Danny come along to rehearsals of Krapp's Last Tape and The Caged, in 1962, as if in a continuation of the Mona days. Even more, Dennis Scott, a Jamaican, and Slade Hopkinson, a Guyanese were also part of the clan at Mona. These two individuals played an important role in this first public performance, as such giving the Workshop its first public personalities. Dennis wrote the play The Caged, "a work in the avant-garde style, set in a symbolic limbo where the characters seek refuge from the outside world," and Slade did the solo performance of Krapp in Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape.
The Caged and Krapp's Last Tape did not employ all the company, naturally, nor does this photograph collection show everybody. Turnover was high in Derek's acting workshops; as many that were drawn to his genius, so were made to flee his piercing passion and raging genius. Everybody had a fight with Derek. It was his way of training this disparate group of people seeking theatre. But I was thrilled to be among his first company.
...such is one view and experience of the development of Derek's theatre in Trinidad. His work was at once formative and definitive, since there was so much psychological space left by colonialism. Yet the place was so full of possibilities, beauty and opportunity. It is the condition that frustrates generation after generation of West Indian artists, but Derek was successful in creating with these people, theatre of lasting memory, theatre that has not happened since, and really cannot, unless successors not shy away from the responsibility to take theatre to further heights.
It is a story that is typical of the struggles of other poets of the Western drama tradition, who bent on maintaining the poetic integrity of drama, are commonly confronted by the challenges to relate poetry to theatre-to create poetic drama and lyrical prose-and to train a company of dramatic actors capable of distilling the essence of poetry into the performance of a new "people's" theatre; a West Indian theatre, the Trinidad Theatre Workshop.
RALPH CAMPBELL, ACTOR
JUNE 1999, MORVANT, TRINIDAD
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About the Authors
The late Daniel A. Campbell, M. Sc. was born in Spanish Town, Jamaica, and attended the University College of the West Indies from 1950-1955 at the same time as Derek Walcott. In Trinidad in the early `60's, Campbell reacquainted himself with Walcott, and introduced him to his wife, Leone, who in turn became a core member of the early Trinidad Theatre Workshop. An avid amateur photographer, Mr. Campbell was a founder and member of the many camera clubs in Trinidad at that time. He died in October 1962.
Ralph Campbell is Daniel's brother. Born in San Fernando, Trinidad, he became a foundation member of the Workshop acting in Walcott'sThe Charlatan and Malcochon, and creating the role of Corporal Lestrade in Dream on Monkey Mountain among other roles. He together with Sydney Best produced King of the Feather Racket for the Morvant Literary and Cultural Group in 1962. He has since lived and worked as a professional stage and television actor, and theatre educator in Trinidad and abroad.
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Excerpt from Afterword
...In the inevitable circle of life, the ironies of fate lay bare the reality of our situation in Trinidad & Tobago. Jealousy, envy, pride and regret are traits common to the West Indian. Pioneers, actors and artists fret and flee--to Canada--yet must return to be recognised. "To be like he," is a sad reflection of lives lived, as well as unacknowledged credit of Walcott's impact. Home and foundation were relinquished, dismissed and abandoned, yet today the Little Carib Theatre--still inadequate--is home again. Walcott would discover the truth and seek his pioneers and foundation members to fairly interpret his words. The loyalty of years is developed by the harshness of dreams unfulfilled. Give a man hope or give him bread are the choices Walcott faced. There or here? Our "small islandness" is our saviour, patience, our virtue; friends are not forgotten, disciples are not discarded. Welcome home.
A major significance of this photograph collection is that it is proof that the Workshop existed as a valid extension of Walcott's vision. It also recognises heroes who will not be denied. A notion is held by some, wishing to negate history and create a new arithmetic for arriving at 40 years of the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, that this production and others from the Little Carib Theatre era do not constitute the body of work of the Workshop. We deny ourselves heroes! In a time of evolving standards and shifting allegiances, it is a small wonder that the Workshop outlived its function of providing an outlet for talent which would have otherwise been undeveloped. Thus, another consequence of this collection is that it points to the possibilities still inherent today in the Trinidad Theatre Workshop and its body of work. Time has yielded the answers, technology has provided the tools. This is but the beginning. Thank you Daniel Campbell and Derek Walcott.
-The Editors of Jett Samm Publishing
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