Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 17th 2014 Contents A29
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Some people are committed to changing the
world in whatever way they can. They change
themselves, their communities, friends and fam-
ilies, societies, laws, economies, attitudes, behav-
iours, or simply give what they can to help people
who need it.
Lenore Thecla Farrell is one of those people. One
of Trinidad s finest exports, she has lived in the US
since the early 80s.
Tomorrow evening, her 27 years of voluntary work
with the Castillo Theatre in New York and the All
Stars Project across the US, bringing performing
arts to inner-city youths, will be officially recognised
when Farrell is honoured at a gala event at the
theatre on November 18.
Talking via Skype from New York City, Farrell is
on her lunch break from her day job, which is a
high-powered one: she s project manager in the
legal department of a very well known international
"Thecla is what I m called when I m home," she
says, "I use Lenore for business, as it s easier for
Americans to say. If you re on a business call and
you say, Thecla. then the conversation is all about
Presumably her business associates want to know
where the name comes from, since she sounds
American with just a residual trace of Trini left.
The name, though, is Greek.
Farrell was born in the 60s, a decade of epochal
change, out of which the modern world was born.
In the decade that followed, the Castillo Theatre
was founded, named after the revolutionary
Guatemalan poet Otto René Castillo, who was killed
by a military junta. It grew straight from the streets
during the 70s as a political community action
experiment designed to give voice to the disenfran-
chised, whether they be gay, black, poor or any
other minority bracket struggling to be heard in
that shifting-sands moment in history.
"It was founded by a group of activists who were
mostly black and Jewish and born out of that 60s
spirit: people who wanted to make the world a
better place," Farrell explains.
In 1987, within months of moving to New York
from the University of Houston, where she had
majored in finance, Farrell first discovered the theatre,
New Jersey inducted the late
"Sopranos" star James
Gandolfini into its Hall of Fame
Six cast members of the hit
HBO drama were on hand as
Gandolfini, who played mob
boss Tony Soprano, was
honoured, as much for his love
of the state as for his TV fame.
"Hey, J stands for Jersey and
for Jimmy," said Vincent
Pastore, who played mobster
Salvatore "Big Pussy"
Bonpensiero. "Jimmy should be
remembered for his work, for
his love of his family and for
his compulsion to let people
know how great New Jersey is.
It was beyond perfect that he
played a mob boss from New
Gandolfini was a Westwood
native. He graduated from
Rutgers University and won
three Emmy awards for his
portrayal of the neurotic north
Jersey mob boss who ran his
business with an iron fist but
saw a shrink to deal with his
anxieties. He died in Italy last
year at age 51.
Aida Turturro, who played
Tony's sister Janice, said
Gandolfini had "the biggest,
most sweetest heart ever. He
was a true friend. I was his
sister in many ways." (AP)
James Gandolfini enters New Jersey Hall of Fame
by then a vibrant leftfield arts hub,
challenging the mainstream.
"I was going around the off-Broad-
way, hole-in-the-wall type theatres---
there s a lot of them in New York,
people s living rooms and that kind of
theatre---really off the beaten path.
And I was using that as my way of
learning about the city."
The Castillo was in its old home in
the Flatiron district, on the tenth floor
of a building, accessed by an elevator.
The play running when she walked in
was Growing Up, Out and Powerful,
starring another Trini, Colin Robinson,
founder of the equality advocacy group
"It was a performance piece about
lesbians and gays of colour," says Far-
rell. "It was very exciting and com-
pelling to see this political play about
life choices. I didn t really understand
it at the time but I waited around at
the end until someone told me to leave.
I was the last person in the place and
someone said to me, Well, you know
you can volunteer? And I said, Ok,
I ll do that! I had no idea it would
end up being my life s work."
It s fascinating that she counts this
creative counter-career as her life work,
rather than the corporate banking
industry job which has her power-
dressing Monday through Friday.
Her path was always destined to be
in finance: her father, Lennox Farrell,
was the first director of the T&T Stock Exchange
and director of operations at the Central Bank.
"He was always in banking. He used to do
accounts, pro bono, and I used to help him with
that when I was young. So the finance degree was
a sort of natural progression."
She worked three jobs on campus to self-support
herself while studying and told her parents to stop
paying her way.
Houston was an eye-opener. Farrell was curious
about her surroundings and determined not to do
"the usual Trini thing of deciding before we leave
Trinidad what we are going to do abroad, going
there and then coming back without really having
learned about the new environment."
She discovered Houston was a multicultural, inter-
national city and the students around her were
Malay, Palestinian, African American, Vietnamese
and Latin American.
After graduating she interviewed for a role with
a Brazilian oil company and promptly moved to
New York. She comes home every Carnival and
always plays mas. "I m an old Minshallite and also
MacFarlane in the past."
Her life partner lives in Trinidad and she still
considers Trinidad home. Still, it is clear in the way
she talks that the experiences, people and art of
New York still hold real allure and inspiration for
Above all, the theatre has become her life. From
being a young woman who used to simply watch
theatre, her career progression has, as she puts it,
transformed her into "a person who has done almost
every job involved in building a theatre."
Her role at Castillo now is as a producer ("of
plays and people," she adds.)
"The way we produce at Castillo: you re the boss,
you hire the talent, you run the budget, you create
the environment for everybody to be able to do
their best work. Because I have project-management
skills, I can use those."
Now on 42nd Street in the heart of the city, the
theatre s raison d être is to throw together people
from different backgrounds with mixed skill sets,
from highly trained actors to drama teachers to vol-
unteers to young kids who have never been onstage
before. Continues on Pages A30 & A31
Thecla is a
Lenore Thecla Farrell,
right, as Sister T-La in the
play Still on the Corner
produced by the Castillo
Theatre in New York.
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