Students Staff

28 March 2012

Nobel laureate Derek Walcott to direct Pantomime at Essex

Derek Walcott

The Lakeside Theatre at the University of Essex will welcome Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott to direct a brand new production of his play Pantomime set to premiere at the beginning of May.

Tickets were released this week for this unique opportunity to see a production written and directed by Professor Walcott, who is Professor of Poetry at Essex and is flying over especially from St Lucia.

Pantomime will be staged at the Lakeside Theatre at the Colchester Campus from Thursday 3 May to Saturday 5 May at 7.30pm and will star David Tarkenter and Trinidadian actor Wendell Manwarren.

The play, which was originally written in the late 1970s, 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.

Set in Tobago in the wake of the Caribbean republic's establishment, Pantomime sees English hotel manager Trewe desperately try to come up with new ways of keeping his guests entertained at his slapdash resort. His big idea is 'Robinson Crusoe: The Pantomime!', but this fails to impress his Tobagan waiter and throws their relationship into a crisis which extends far beyond the pantomime at hand.

This is believed to be the first production of Pantomime for the UK stage since 1979 and the performances are part of Professor Walcott’s annual visit to the University of Essex as part of his role as Professor of Poetry.

During his visit he will also be conducting master classes with students from the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies (LiFTS) and giving a public reading.

Professor Maria Cristina Fumagalli and Penny Woollard, who are producing Pantomime, said: ““We are incredibly proud to be involved in presenting another play by Professor Walcott following the success of the UK premiere of Moon-Child last year. We are thrilled that he will be here at our Colchester Campus to direct the play himself. This production offers audiences the unique chance to see the work of one of the world’s greatest living writers on the stage.

“He has chosen to take this opportunity to revive a play first performed in the late 1970s which remains incredibly timely. Pantomime is full of comedy with witty, sometimes brutal, interplay between the two characters which powerfully investigates colonialism and racial tension among many other themes.”

Professor Walcott, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992 and the T S Eliot Prize in 2011, will also be reading and discussing his poetry with award-winning poet and lecturer in LiFTS’s Centre for Creative Writing Glyn Maxwell. The special public event will be at the Lakeside Theatre at 3pm on Saturday 28 April.

Tickets are free to all events and can be booked through the Arts on 5 website at or by calling 01206 873288.

Show information

Pantomime – written and directed by Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott. Lakeside Theatre, University of Essex, Colchester Campus, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex. Thursday 3 May to Saturday 5 May at 7.30pm. Tickets are free. Book online at or call 01206 873288.

Poetry and performance

Derek Walcott in conversation - Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott talks to Glyn Maxwell and reads his award winning work. Lakeside Theatre, University of Essex, Colchester Campus, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex. Tickets are free. Saturday 28 April at 3pm. Book online at or call 01206 873288.


Note to Editors

For further information please contact the University of Essex Communications Office on 01206 874377 or email:

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