Errol John wrote Moon on a Rainbow Shawl (1958) after becoming disillusioned about the lack of good roles for black actors on the British theatre scene. While this situation has only slightly improved since, his response has become the most revived black play in Britain, from its original production at the Royal Court in 1958, to the National Theatre in 2012. It depicts the lives of a black community living in poverty in a shared tenement yard in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in the mid-1940s, showing how each of the characters carries dreams of escaping to create better lives for themselves and their families.
Lynette Goddard focuses on how the play articulates the narratives of migration that prompted many Caribbean people to uproot from their homes on the islands and move to the England in the post-war era. For some of them, these dreams of a new life became a reality, but they were experienced differently across genders and generations.
1. Frontlines and Backyards: The Post-War Caribbean Yard Play 2. Migration Stories: Island Lives, Hopes, Dreams, and Escapes 3. Text and Character: Gender and Generation 4. Production Histories: Staging, Directing and Reviewing 5. A Caribbean Classic? Bibliography
Routledge’s Fourth Wall books are short, accessible accounts of some of modern theatre’s best loved works. They take a subjective but easily digestible approach to their topics, allowing their authors the opportunity to explore their chosen subject in a way that is absorbing enough to be of use both to lovers of theatre and those who are being asked to study a play more deeply.
Each book in the series looks at a specific play, variously exploring its themes, contexts and characteristics while prioritising original, insightful writing over complexity or scholarly weight. While other cultural products such as albums and films are well served by this kind of writing, the Fourth Wall series aims to find room between rigorous analysis and the short format of reviews or articles. They are extended accounts that get to the heart of their chosen works without being bound by the density that academic treatments can often require.