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Errol John

(1924—1988) playwright and actor


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(b. Trinidad, 20 Dec. 1924; d. London, 10 July 1988) Playwright and actor. He was an actor, director and designer with the Whitehall Players in Trinidad. Arriving in England in 1951, he appeared on the British stage but became increasingly frustrated by the lack of good roles for black actors – with the exception of Othello, which he played at the Old Vic in 1962. John returned to playwriting, which he began with The Tout in 1949, and won a competition with what is considered the definitive ‘yard’ play, Moon on a Rainbow Shawl, in which a bus driver escapes the poor Caribbean backyard life of prostitution and crime. Its successful staging at the Royal Court in 1958 was followed by many productions and revivals worldwide and was a breakthrough in Britain for black writing. Other plays by John also explore the theme of escape.

From The Continuum Companion to Twentieth Century Theatre in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Theatre.


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