Plays by the Nobel-laureate, brought together for the first time
In the history plays that comprise The Haitian TrilogyHenri Christophe, Drums and Colours and The Haytian EarthDerek Walcott, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, uses verse to tell the story of his native West Indies as a four-hundred-year cycle of war, conquest and rebellion.
In Henri Christophe and The Haytian Earth, Walcott re-casts the legacy of Haiti's violent revolutionariesled by Toussaint L'Ouverture, Jean Jacques Dessalines and Henri Christophewhose rebellion established the first black state in the Americas, but whose cruelty becomes a parable of racial pride and corruption. Drums and Colours, commissioned in 1958 to celebrate the first parliament in Trinidad, is a grand pageant linking the lives of complex, ambiguous heroes: Columbus and Raleigh; Toussaint; and George William Gordon, a martyr of the constitutional era.
From Henri Christophe's high style to the bracing vernacular of The Haytian Earth, to the epic scale and scope of Drums and Colours, in these plays Walcott, one of our most celebrated poets, carved a place in the modern theater for the history of the West Indies, and a sounding room for his own maturing voice.
These three early theater experiments by Nobel prize-winning poet and playwright Walcott (Omeros) center around three historical characters: Christoff, Dessaline, and Toussaint L'Ouverture. Moving freely through the history of the West Indies, these verse plays are the work of a powerful imagination struggling to find a language to realize its vision on stage. The first play, "Henri Christophe," is a Shakespearean meditation on the corrupting influence of power, while the second, "Drums and Colours," is a pageant of history from the age of discovery with Columbus to 1833 with Toussaint L'Ouverture. "The Haytian Earth" is a long historical drama of the slavery, rebellion, murder, greed, and power struggles that have fertilized the Haitian earth with blood. Unfortunately, while occasionally brilliant, these plays are too often clumsy and unsure. Stuffed with historical characters, they are too large in scope and too unwieldy in structure to fit on the stage, and the language is more argumentative than dramatic. Recommended for specialists. Thomas E. Luddy, Salem State Coll., MA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.