Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 20th 2014 Contents B1
A dish of
Use space creatively
Blessed with an indomitable spir-
it and showing just a little sign of
slowing down, the soon-to-be 84-
year-old Freddie Kissoon continues
to be the livewire behind the
Strolling Players Theatre Group
which he founded back in 1957. One
might be tempted to say he con-
tinues to stroll along---but meeting
Kissoon is more like being in a
sprint, such is his spirit and effer-
"My lifetime in theatre" as he puts
it, encompasses acting, directing,
drama teaching and playwriting.
Before starting the Strolling Players,
he was actively involved in the the-
atre as far back as 1951 when he was
in his early 20s.
He is an associate of the Drama
Board (ADB)/UK and was awarded
the Silver Hummingbird Medal in
1987 for his contribution to culture,
drama and theatre. He has been
awarded many other local and inter-
national awards. At the recent 14th
annual WeBeat festival at the St
James Amphitheatre, the St James
Community Improvement Commit-
tee honoured him for his contribu-
As an actor he has made well over
200 stage appearances in T&T, Bar-
bados, Guyana, London, Croydon,
Glasgow and Scotland; he has direct-
ed over 100 plays. As a graduate of
the Government Teachers Training
College, he s taught drama classes
throughout T&T as well as Grenada,
St Vincent, St Kitts and Curacao,
and he s written scores of plays, as
well as episodes of the classic local
play Calabash Alley. He wrote most
of the script for T&T s first full-
length movie, The Right and The
Wrong. His plays have been staged
all over the West Indies as well as
New York, Washington, Toronto,
Hamilton, Winnipeg, Montreal, Lon-
don and Nigeria, both on stage and
on television. He is a true cultural
The Strolling Players Theatre
Company has countless stage per-
formances and counting (at last
count some 139 plays, 2,675 times)
as well as many television plays (82)
and serials (six) to its credit. They
have also appeared in locally made
movies (11) and numerous radio and
tv commercials. Their most recent
performances have been at the St
James Amphitheatre and in Cunupia
(Girls Wanted, Beauty Contest and
Doo Doo) and at City Hall in Port-
of-Spain (Aunt Agatha, Mr Big Stuff
and 20 and Under).
Kissoon taught for six years ini-
tially at Laventille RC School and
then for 25 years at St James Sec-
ondary. He also published a book
on drama---the first of its kind in the
West Indies---entitled 100 Exercises
in Creative Drama. He is also a news-
The widowed father of two sons
(he was married to the late Nesta,
whom he met very early in the world
of theatre), he is a devout Catholic,
and says his greatest roles are as
husband and father ... not as an
Where were you born and where
did you grow up?
I was born at 63 Mucurapo Road,
St James. I grew up in Morne Coco
Road, Petit Valley, Jackson Place in
East Dry River and Camille Road,
Boissiere Village in Maraval and live
now in Diamond Vale, Diego Mar-
tin.At what schools/institutions did
you receive your education?
Nelson Street Boys RC School,
Port-of-Spain; Modern Secondary
School, Woodbrook; Government
Teachers Training College, St Vin-
cent Street; Central School of Speech
Training and Dramatic Art, Embassy
Theatre, Swiss Cottage, London,
To what do your attribute your
longevity in your field?
As with any successful group,
whether it be your family, your busi-
ness or your theatre group, a strong
and consistent set of principles and
a strong sense of discipline are key.
How can we find out more about
you, join your group and keep up
to date with your latest projects?
Probably the easy way is by word
of mouth, our flyers, the social media
and you can call 637-3682. We need
younger people to join. The only
requirement is a love for the theatre
and we ll see where we go from
Who were the people who have
influenced you the most in your
career in theatre?
There were a number of such peo-
ple and to name some off the top
off my head I d say Cecil Gray, Errol
Hill, James King, John Ainsworth,
Horace James and Mrs Jean Sue
Wing. A film actor I admired was
For all of the 57 years as a direc-
tor, actor, teacher, and playwright,
which would you rate as your most
memorable and satisfying perform-
As a director, the most challenging
and memorable production was God
and Uriah Butler, 1967. It took me
about five months to write and three
months to rehearse.
As an actor, my best role was Judas
in the story of the Passion, staged
by the Catholic Evidence Guild in
1959 and again 1961 at the Botanical
Gardens. I also enjoyed playing the
title role in Ti-Jean and His Brothers
by Derek Walcott and the leading
male role of Arjune in the play Chitra
by Rabindranath Tagore. Most of all,
it was wonderful acting the role of
Man-Man in my play Zingay.
As a drama teacher, the most
memorable experience was at the
Mausica Teachers Training College
where I had 150 students in the hall
and about 15 lecturers in the balcony
listening to what Creative Child
Drama was all about. The principal,
Harry Joseph, who saw most of the
sessions, said, "Freddie, you have
electrified the college."
As a playwright, my most popular
play is Calabash Alley which was
originally a radio serial of 78 15-
minute episodes, commissioned by
Radio Trinidad in 1970.
What is your greatest fear in life?
Yahweh, as I have always said.
What are your greatest accom-
plishments, theatrically and oth-
Theatrically, (with the help of my
group, of course), having managed
to stage so many productions, so
many times all over T&T and the
Otherwise, I cycled round Trinidad
and have climbed both Mt El
Tucuche and Cerro del Aripo, our
two highest mountains.
What is your most prized pos-
That one I d prefer to keep that
to myself since it is priceless (accom-
panied with a mischievous laugh).
What was it like growing up in
There were 12 of us: grandfather,
grandmother, uncle, my mother,
father and six children, before I made
my entrance. It was wonderful.
If you could dine with anyone in
history, who would that be?
Yeshua, his Hebrew name. You
will know Him simply as Jesus.
What advice/recipe for success
would you give to young people
coming into the business?
Actually, I wish I could give this
to hordes of young people wanting
to join The Strolling Players, but that
isn t happening, but I ll give it any-
way: have a good job; if you expect
financial riches in the theatre here,
forget about it. If you are seeking
self-expression and inner satisfac-
tion, that you will find.
What would you like people to
most remember about you?
I would like people to think of me
as a good man, a man of integrity
and good character...if I may say so
What would you say is your
Next question, please (laughing).
What daily motto do you live by?
Treat others the way you would
like them to treat you. Simple really,
and it s a directive we have been
given, not so?
Strolling with an
WITH NASSER KHAN
Freddie Kissoon with two sons and three grandsons.
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