The work of Trinidadian playwright Errol John is generating renewed interest with the revival of his iconic, award-winning 1958 stage play Moon on a Rainbow Shawl, which was performed at the National Theatre from March through June 2012.
The themes of the play, now regarded as a canonical work of black theatre, are still relevant today with its depiction of immigration, the struggles faced by the African Diaspora, and the sacrifices and aspirations of a post-war community living in poverty.
Born in Trinidad in 1921, Errol John worked as a journalist before moving to England in 1951 to find work in the theatre. He appeared on the London stage in a number of productions, most notably the part of Othello in a production at The Old Vic Theatre in 1962. He also made several appearances in a number of television and film productions, albeit playing relatively minor black characters including The African Queen (1952), The Heart of the Matter (1953) and Simba (1955), and had major staring roles in the BBC series including A Man from the Sun (1956), and Rainbow City (1967).
John began to focus on writing, frustrated with his lack of job opportunities as an actor. He wrote his first play The Tout in 1949 but his most feted work still remains the seminal Moon on a Rainbow Shawl, which won the Observer award for most promising playwright in 1957. Recognised as a significant classic of Caribbean theatre, this colourful, vividly told drama was originally staged at the Royal Court in 1958, and then in 1962, as a revised production in New York.
However, following a brief tour, the play has faded into relative obscurity. The tragicomic plot takes place in the post-war setting of Old Macs Yard in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and focuses on the complex relationships of the Adams family, chiefly the struggle of tram driver Ephraim, who dreams of moving to England to escape the impoverished slums, as soldiers are returning from the Second World War.
The cramped claustrophobia of the location and heightened tension recalls the simmering, kitchen-sink melodrama of American playwright Tennessee Williams. Bringing to life a multitude of stories, and featuring a diverse range of characters, calypso songs, children’s rhymes, and West Indian patois, this is a vibrant but harsh evocation of the hardship of poverty, faded dreams, ambition and regret in a post-war Trinidadian community.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.