Photo Credit: Talawa Theatre Company (From Website)
"I remembered the calypso and sounds of this play which transported me to the Caribbean from my seat in theatre!"
I recently saw Errol John's Moon on a Rainbow Shawl at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. To be honest I never really heard of his literary works until I saw the play advertised via the National Theatre. My curiousity rose about seeing the play so I booked myself a ticket!
The first production of Moon on a Rainbow Shawl was produced in 1958 and played at the Royal Court Theatre in London. There has been subsequent productions since then including this one. Errol John wrote the play during the decade when literary players from the Caribbean wrote about their life before emigrating to Britain. They discussed the social and political landscape of their homeland especially with the effect of some of the Caribbean islands' independence from Britain. John broke traditions when he wrote the play in standard (at the time) English instead of Creole. Though in the play there was considerable usage of Creole idioms and colloquial expressions.
The play is set in the Port of Spain, Trinidad, and is about Ephraim (Ozlezie Mono) who yearned to have a better life in Britain and to escape the poverty from Port of Spain's slums. I feel there was a similar parallel with both Ephraim and the playwright. There were other characters; Esther (Tahirah Sharif) who looked at the potential independent and prosperous nation as her future with Eduction; and Sophia Adams (Martina Laird) who held firmly onto the country's traditions and cultures by trying her best to hold the community and her family together, despite set backs and neighbours' changing attitudes towards the community.
I love how the play refers to the Trinidad's and Tobago's social, cultural and political landscape including independence (pending at the time of when the play was written), its revived economy with the off shore oil industry, the community cohesion and references to cricket, a national sport. Also still fresh in one's mind the post war celebrations as the islands' troops fought with the allies abroad.
Talawa Theatre Company and National Theatre produced this current production. A big thanks to the talented cast and its creative team for this amazing production including Michael Biffong (Director) and the designers; Soutra Gilmour (Stage), Johanna Town (Lighting) and Steve Brown (Sound). I'll would like to see more Talawa Theatre Company productions in the future as they produce productions which enhance the British cultural life by celebrating the lives of those in the Black British Community. Further information about the Talawa Theatre Company can be found on their website.
It's always refreshing to see a play and appreciate the culture along with the social and political landscape which is different to where I live. However the issues shared and the themes raised are just universal as to every country in the world.