Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 21st 2014 Contents By Roslyn Carrington
In another life, Caroline Taylor would have been a circus jug-
gler, keeping half a dozen balls in the air at all times. She is
a writer, editor, webmaster, and social media maven. These
jobs pay her bills. But there are other labels you can attach
to her --- singer, actress, producer and director of opera and
musical theatre --- that you could rightly call her vocation.
She studied Performance Studies at Williams College in
Massachusetts, a fusion of theatre, dance, anthropology,
sociology and art criticism. Such an eclectic mix wasn't
actually offered by Williams, but such was her determina-
tion that she petitioned them to create the curriculum, and
they did. "It was kind of cool. You do something in moment,
because you feel it's important for you to do, but I still get
emails from students asking me how to do the same thing
with a programme they want set up. I charted my own
course." Then she adds thoughtfully, "That's always getting
me in trouble."
After graduation, she earned an Commonwealth
Scholarship to do an MA in Theatre and Performance at the
University of London, Goldsmiths. Taylor also has a certifi-
cate in Art Education and has studied at the Lee Strasburg
Institute in New York, learning method acting and perform-
ing for film and TV. Stepping outside of the bounds of con-
ventionality, she spent time with the La Mama
Experimental Theatre Company in New York, stretching her
limits beyond conventional theatre fare. "It was fun, you
learn to use your voice and body in non-conventional ways."
She would love to take her education further at the Royal
Academy of Dramatic Art, "But I don't have RADA time or
One of her most noteworthy stage performances was a
one-woman show that she wrote, produced and performed
herself, both in New York and the UK. "The whole premise
was challenging people's conceptions of race, nationality,
ethnicity, religion, sexuality, everything." This was in the con-
text of a post- 9/11 world, where, as she put it, it was the
responsibility of everyone who was non-white to prove
themselves and represent their ethnicity. "But I can't repre-
sent every experience in Trinidad."
Because of her decidedly exotic features, she presented a
conundrum for a northern audience.
"I kept being pulled
aside in airports. People thought I was either a Latina pros-
titute smuggling drugs, or a Moroccan terrorist. I got tired of
questions like, 'Do you speak English in Trinidad?'"
As an aside, she also mentions auditioning in New York for
the role of a Trinidadian character, but was turned down
because she "didn't look Trinidadian." "I thought, you're going
to cast a black American who will do the accent poorly,
rather than a real Trinidadian?"
Having spread her wings abroad, returning to a conservative
society such as ours presents some challenges for such an
unbridled spirit. She has been meaning to update and re-
package her performance for a local audience, but isn't sure
how it will be received in such a different cultural context.
But she has no doubt that the dialogue needs to take place.
"We need to talk about race, politics, class, sexuality, and
religion, as well as schooling, health care, and conservation.
I'm still trying to determine what the fall-out would be like if
I did it; whether it would be something I would have to
Given these challenges, why did she come back? Even
though her father is English, she explains, she feels 100%
Trini. "These are my people. I get that there are better
opportunities out there, more opportunities for recognition.
But I have a problem with the brain drain. I can do better
work here than in other places where the work has already
been done. I felt that I could not only contribute wherever I
could, but it would also be meaningful to me. This is my
Her most recent WOW-worthy achievement has been the
presentation of Les Mis, put on by the Marionettes. Taylor
played a supporting role, in the person of the hilarious,
obnoxious, entirely watchable Madame Thénardier, who
filled dual purposes as villainess and comic relief.
More importantly, though, as Director of Les Mis, she was
the one facing the doubts of a theatre-going audience who
didn't think that a performance of such magnitude could be
done in Trinidad. Standing on her previous experience co-
directing Carmen with her mother, Marionettes Musical
Director Gretta Taylor, she plunged forth. "Carmen was a
steep learning curve. I hadn't directed anything other than
myself, now we had two alternating casts."
But Les Mis represented not just a new challenge but a
dream come true: from childhood, she had always loved the
This is not to say that the stress didn't threaten to make her
lovely, dark curly hair fall out. "It was scary! But I upped my
meditation and mindfulness practice...." Judging from the
resounding success of the spectacular production, it is safe
to say that Taylor has added the luxuriously plumed feath-
er of Director to her cap. And we theatre lovers are hunger-
ing for more from her. We probably won't have long to wait.
She has her heart set on producing a wholly local opera or
musical. "One of the cool things about coming back to
Trinidad is that there is so much that is new and so much
you can do. I'm happy to say, I don't know much about this,
but I will read up on it, make my mistakes, and try."
September 21, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
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