Students Staff

30 April 2013

International cast ready for this week's world première of Nobel Laureate's new play

O Starry, Starry Night at Lakeside Theatre from Thursday 2 May to Saturday 4 May

Brian Green as Vincent Van Gogh in O Starry, Starry Night

Brian Carter-Green as Vincent Van Gogh in O Starry, Starry Night

Nobel Laureate Professor Derek Walcott has brought together an outstanding international cast for the world premiere of his brand new play looking at the turbulent relationship between Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin.

Professor Walcott, recognised as one of the world’s greatest living writers, has chosen to premiere O Starry, Starry Night at the Lakeside Theatre at the University due to the close links with its creative team and Essex academics.

The play is set in the South of France and follows Gauguin’s visit to a troubled Van Gogh while he was living in Arles in 1888.

London-based actor Martina Laird plays the prostitute Van Gogh and Gauguin fight over. A Trinidadian actor now based in London, Martina was one of the stars of the acclaimed National Theatre production Moon on a Rainbow Shawl and is well known to UK television audiences after appearing as Comfort Jones in Casualty for five years.

She travelled to St Lucia for initial rehearsals with Walcott and the rest of the cast before completing preparations at the Lakeside Theatre at the Colchester Campus this month.

She said: “Working with Derek is the pinnacle for any West Indian actor. This experience is challenging and moving for so many reasons both personal and professional.”

O Starry Starry Night: The world première of Nobel Laureate's new play from University of Essex on Vimeo.

Martina Laird and Wendell Manwarren in O Starry, Starry Night

Martina Laird and Wendell Manwarren in O Starry, Starry Night

Paris-based Brian Carter-Green will play Vincent van Gogh. He said: “It is a real joy and a little bit crazy to be asked by such a great playwright to be in the premiere of his new play. It is also quite a responsibility.”

Celebrated Trinidadian actor and musician Wendell Manwarren will play Gauguin and renowned Trinidadian actor Nigel Scott will play Theo Van Gogh.

David Tarkenter, a longstanding member of the Mercury Theatre Company in Colchester, who starred in last year’s production of Walcott’s Pantomime is also part of the cast alongside actor, playwright and musician Julian Harries. Essex student Mike Prokopiou has also been chosen to be part of the cast.

Student Mike Prokopiou talks about performing in O Starry Starry Night by Derek Walcott from University of Essex on Vimeo.

This new play is the latest product of an incredibly creative period for Walcott. In 2011, he won the prestigious T S Eliot prize for his collection of poetry White Egrets.

As Professor of Poetry at Essex over the past four years Walcott has developed exceptionally strong creative links with the team at the Lakeside Theatre and academics in the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies (LiFTS).

On previous visits to Essex Walcott has directed new productions of his plays Moonchild and Pantomime and the idea for the new play first came to him on his last visit to the University of Essex in 2012.

To book tickets contact the Lakeside Theatre on 01206 873261 or visit the website at:

Journalists wanting more information about the production should call 01206 874377 or e-mail:

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