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Quorum Drama Seminar Series: Lynette Goddard – Wednesday 8 March 2017

8th March 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Back in Time For Trinidad: Errol John’s Moon on a Rainbow Shawl on the Contemporary British Stage
Lynette Goddard – Royal Holloway

Errol John’s Moon on a Rainbow Shawl was one of the first plays by a Caribbean writer to be produced in London when it premiered at the Royal Court on 4 December 1958, and it has since become the most revived black British play following productions at the Theatre Royal Stratford East (1986), the Almeida Theatre (1988), by Eclipse Theatre (2003) and the National Theatre/Talawa (2012/14). John’s yard play looks back to 1948, the year when SS Empire Windrush arrived in the UK, bringing in a group of almost 500 Caribbean immigrants and widely held as a defining moment in the mass-scale immigration of black people to Britain in the post-war era. As such the play arguably becomes interesting as a migration narrative that taps into important questions about the relationship between Britain and the Commonwealth during this period. At the same time, its production history marks it as central to the ways in which black playwrights emerged and are sustained within the British theatre industry.

This paper uses the original and subsequent production history of Moon on a Rainbow Shawl to examine these two interconnected concerns. I explore how the portrayal of themes of escaping backyard poverty in post-war Trinidad have a continued resonance in debates about subsequent waves of immigration that has arguably worked to secure the continued significance of John’s play within British theatre history. I will argue that analysing John’s play can be used to understand the patterns of programming black work on the contemporary British stage.

Wednesday 8th March 2017, 6.00pm

Rehearsal Room 2, Arts One Building

Everyone welcome

Refreshments will be served

Free of charge


8th March 2017
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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