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Thursday 21 November 2019
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Actors remember Mustapha Matura

Mustapha Matura

Photo source: stagereview.co.uk
Mustapha Matura Photo source: stagereview.co.uk

TT-born Mustapha Matura, known for plays such as Rum and Coca Cola and Playboy of the West Indies, died on October 29. He was
79.

An online article on thestage.co.uk said he died after being taken ill on a flight.

During is career, Matura had received several awards and accolades, among them the John Whiting Award and the Helen Hayes Award.

News of his death drew reactions from the local theatre community. Albert Laveau, managing and artistic director of the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, actors Penelope Spencer and Richard Ragoobarsingh and playwright Ralph Maraj spoke to Newsday about Matura.

While Laveau never knew Matura personally, he remembered “he had a great deal of respect for the Trinidad Theatre Workshop and its work."

Laveau said Matura was highly respected in the UK. He recalled a newspaper saying Matura’s humour, warmth of feeling and knack for observing human oddity and embodying it in quirky, unpredictable dialogue made him one of the finest dramatists of West Indian origin.

“He was one of those people in the 1960s who migrated to the UK and who kept writing plays about his people,” Laveau said.

He added that while Matura had the people’s love and respect, “His plays did not find a lot of audience here.”

“I send my condolences to his family and wish them, all in future, the warmth of his memory with love,” Laveau said.

Spencer and Ragoobarsingh said his death was a loss.

Spencer said TT was losing its giants. She added his writings encouraged younger actors and playwrights.

Ragoobarsingh said any time a playwright of Matura’s stature passed, it was always a great loss, as TT does not have a huge number of playwrights. He added that that kind of stature is hard to come by.

“How much the country really recognises the playwrights of TT...the people who contribute outside of the sphere of the traditional mas or pan or soca, how much they recognise the other art forms in terms of dance, theatre and the other performing arts – it is always a query in my mind,” Ragoobarsingh said.

Maraj described Matura as an outstanding dramatist and playwright.

“His plays did have an impact in London and in TT. When he came back, a number of the plays were staged here in the theatre run by Lennox Raphael.”

Maraj said Matura’s Playboy of the West Indies was also staged in San Fernando.

It is a sad day, he said, but Matura made a significant contribution to the literary/dramatic life and legacy of TT.

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