Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 9th 2017 Contents JANINE CHARLES-FARRAY
In 1960, local drama created history
when two of the major amateur theatri-
cal companies at the time---The Compa-
ny of Four and The Whitehall Players---
came together to form the Company of
Players. According to playwright, actor
and director Ronald Amaroso, at its
height, The Company of Players was
one of the major black theatre troupes
in North Trinidad in an industry dom-
inated by groups comprised mostly of
white T&T citizens and expatriates
performing classical theatre works.
In its early years, more than 110 people
were members of the Company of Players
-- a size unheard of in today's theatre indus-
try. They included such well known names
as Dr Errol Hill, Errol Jones, James King,
Horace James, Barbara Assoon, Albert La
Veau, Freddie Kissoon, Wilbert Holder, Jean
Sue Wing, Eunice Alleyne, Gabriel Francis,
Reginald Dumas and Juliana Chambers.
Some 47 years later, past members---in-
cluding Amaroso, along with Beverly Al-
leyne, Norvan Fullerton and Sarah John---are
organising a "Reunion" event on Sunday,
Thursday, March 9, 2017 guardian.co.tt
The Company of Players in a scene from the local production of A Streetcar Named Desire.
Reunion honours Company of Players
March 12, at 6:00 pm, at the Trinidad Theatre Work-
shop in Belmont, Port-of-Spain.
The Reunion event will include a meeting for for-
mer Company of Players members; an exhibition of
some of the troupe's archival photos, programmes,
newspaper clippings and reviews; and readings from
some of the group's signature hit plays. The event is
open to the public via formal registration.
"One of the main reasons for the Reunion is that
amateur theatre in Trinidad has a history of which the
country should be proud," said Amaroso, adding: "A
lot still needs to be done to document and promote
About his own theatrical career, Amaroso said de-
spite following the expectations of his parents into the
field of engineering, he found himself drawn back to
his first loves---writing, acting and directing.
He said that in the early years, the Company of
Players did classic plays and the works of local play-
wrights like Douglas Archibald and Clifford Sealy. The
immediate post-Independence (1962) period saw a
significant drop in membership due to emigration
abroad and marital duties. Major talents like Dr Er-
rol Hill, Horace James and Barbara Assoon also left,
going on to make their mark internationally. With
the establishment of the Trinidad Theatre Workshop
by Derek Walcott in 1959, several players from the
troupe---such as Errol James, Albert La Veau, Wilber
Holder and Eunice Alleyne---were courted and left
the Company of Players.
However, under the guidance and support of Jean
Sue Wing, Gabriel Francis, Billie St Hillaire and Cuth-
bert Pantor, Amaroso said new talent emerged. It was
during this rekindling that Amaroso, along with others
like Shirley De Gannes, Winston Cooper, Peter Smart
(Thabiti), and Lloyd (Norvan) Fullerton, were soon
associated with the troupe.
"At the time, radio plays and serials were written
and produced at Radio Trinidad for transmission over
the airwaves. Then with the advent of television, the
Company of Players was responsible for the second
play ever produced at Trinidad and Tobago Television
(TTT)." This historical made-for-local-TV play was
an adaptation of Clifford Sealy's The Professor, and
starred Verna Andrews and Amaroso in the lead roles.
Several others followed.
Between 1966 and 1972, the troupe performed
many foreign plays, including The Father (Sweden),
An Enemy of the People (Sweden), A Streetcar Named
Desire (USA), Sabrina Fair (USA) and A Raisin in the
Then came three big hits in the 1970s and 1980s,
including locally written The Master of Carnival---a
one act play written by Euton Jarvis and Amaroso.
"It had a superb cast led by Peter Smart (Thabi-
ti), Shirley De Gannes, Lloyd (Norvan) Fullerton and
Jackie Hernandez. At an international drama festival
in Caracas, Venezuela, it also won the prize for the
Most Original Play," said Amaroso.
The second big hit was The Dry Season, one of Am-
aroso's best known plays based on the Black Power
uprising in 1970s Trinidad. The play combined serious
drama with comic turns.
The third hit was One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest.
Amaroso said at the time of the play, the 1975 film
version of the novel was showing in cinema. Their
play became "wildly popular and had to be repeated
more than once," he recalled.
Some years later, more well-trained actors began
emerging from the Tent Theatre and from the newly
established Creative Arts Centre at the University of
the West Indies in 1986. So the Company of Players
focused on theatre training, offering a space that of-
fered ready experience in theatre production. Sadly,
the number of participants gradually dwindled, and
the Company of Players faded into history.
To register for Reunion activities, call 377-1198
or 637-7561 (11 am to 2 pm)
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