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Giving Back: Derek Walcott Theatre Arts Scholarship at UWI

For Release Upon Receipt - January 20, 2014

St. Augustine

ST. AUGUSTINE, Trinidad and Tobago – In December, Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott presented a cheque of $40,000 to The University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine Campus Principal, Professor Clement Sankat, towards the establishment of a scholarship for students enrolled in the Theatre Arts programme at the university. 

This was possible through the proceeds from the highly successful production of Walcott's play 'O Starry Starry Night' which was staged in November 2013 at the Central Bank Auditorium in Trinidad. Each year for the next five years, a Theatre Arts student at the Department of Creative and Festival Arts (DCFA) will be awarded a scholarship to assist with studies tenable at The UWI. The Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education, Professor Funso Aiyejina, Head of the DCFA, Mr. Jessel Murray, and members of the production committee, including treasurer Mr. Colvin Chen were on hand to receive the cheque from Walcott.

A similar scholarship has been established at the University of Essex, England, where the play, written by Walcott and featuring Wendell Manwarren, Brian Green and Martina Laird, premiered in May 2013.

In November, two members of the international cast, David Tarkenter and Michael Prokopiou, also held an Actor's Workshop for twenty UWI and University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) students at the St. Augustine Campus. 

At the informal cheque presentation at the Office of the Campus Principal, the team thanked those who supported the production, including the sponsors: the Neal and Massy Foundation, the Ministry of Arts and Multi-Culturalism, British Airways, Kapok Hotel, the British High Commission, the Embassy of Chile and Angostura Ltd; and committee members: Mr. Nigel Scott (Chairman), Dr Charlotte Bigland, Mr. Colvin Chen, Mrs. Anke Kessler, Ms. Judy Raymond, Mr. Anil Seunath, Mr. Stephen Seepaul, Mrs. Margaret Walcott, Mrs. Anna Walcott-Hardy and Dr Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw. 

Nobel Prize winning poet Joseph Brodsky said about Walcott’s work, "For almost forty years his throbbing and relentless lines kept arriving in the English language like tidal waves, coagulating into an archipelago of poems without which the map of modern literature would effectively match wallpaper. He gives us more than himself or 'a world'; he gives us a sense of infinity embodied in the language."  


More about Derek Walcott

Derek Walcott was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992.  Born in Castries, Saint Lucia, on January 23, 1930, his first published poem, "1944" appeared in The Voice of St. Lucia when he was fourteen years old, and consisted of 44 lines of blank verse. By the age of nineteen, Walcott had self- published two volumes.  He later attended The University of the West Indies, having received a Colonial Development and Welfare scholarship, and in 1951 published the volume Poems. Walcott's honors also include a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award, a Royal Society of Literature Award, and, in 1988, the Queen's Medal for Poetry presented by HRH Queen Elizabeth II.  His latest works include White Egrets (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010), Selected Poems (2007), The Prodigal: A Poem (2004), and Tiepolo's Hound (2000).  The founder of the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, Walcott has also written several plays produced throughout the United States and Europe including The Odyssey: A Stage Version (1992); The Isle is Full of Noises (1982); Remembrance and Pantomime (1980); The Joker of Seville and O Babylon! (1978). His play Dream on Monkey Mountain won the Obie Award for distinguished foreign play of 1971.  He founded the Boston Playwrights' Theatre at Boston University in 1981.  

About The UWI

Over the last six decades, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged University with over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest and most longstanding higher education provider in the English-speaking Caribbean, with main campuses in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and Centres in Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Christopher (St Kitts) & Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent & the Grenadines. UWI recently launched its Open Campus, a virtual campus with over 50 physical site locations across the region, serving over 20 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean. UWI is an international university with faculty and students from over 40 countries and collaborative links with over 60 universities around the world. Through its seven Faculties, UWI offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Pure & Applied Sciences, Science and Agriculture, and Social Sciences.

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.) For the latest UWI News, click