It was about 1974 and I had just walked out of the Little Carib Theatre, as though floating on a cloud of happiness. It was opening night of the Joker of Seville and the entire cast was on a high. From the audience reaction, we anticipated a successful run and were euphoric that our several weeks of hard work had not been in vain. As I settled into my seat in his car, I observed that, uncharacteristically, my then boyfriend, who had seen the play, had a thunderous brow.

“What’s wrong?” I enquired.

“Every night, I come to take you home after rehearsal, I didn’t know what was going on,” he muttered.

I was completely lost. “What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, all the time,” he said, “you telling me, you had to dress Nigel, I thought Nigel was a little boy. I did not know Nigel was a big…. man.”

I let out a hearty laugh and continued laughing as he drove all the way down French Street.

As Don Juan, Nigel Scott had some quick costume changes to make and Derek Walcott had given me the responsibility of helping Nigel with those frequent costume changes. I had never thought to explain that Nigel was an adult virile man and a very handsome one at that.

As I got the shocking news of the death of Nigel Scott, those memories came flooding back, and I reminded my husband of that night that he had resented dear Nigel. Nigel was always very courteous and friendly and readily expressed his appreciation for my work with him. He was a great actor in all his roles and I admired him greatly. He was very patient and would listen carefully to directions given by Derek and respond immediately and accurately. He was a joy to watch. He easily entered into any character and lived his roles as though born to play the part.

Soon after I learnt of Nigel’s death, I phoned Albert Laveau, the first person to direct me in a play, when I played the role of Bella in Errol Hill’s Strictly Matrimony, in my teenage years. We spoke of the passing parade of members of the Trinidad Theatre Workshop from the golden days of theatre, Ermine Wright, Hamilton Parris, Errol Jones, Stanley Marshall, Errol Pilgrim, Charles Applewhite, Wilbert Holder, and others, like Slade Hopkinson and Freddie Kissoon who had taught me. I recalled their kindness to me and others whom they had inspired and trained. We would look on in awe as they honed their craft. Their performances in Dream on Monkey Mountain, Ti Jean and His Brothers, and so many other plays, will forever be etched in my memory. I treasure the many autographed programmes I have kept from those plays.

When I told my god -mother that I had been accepted into the Faculty of Law but I really wanted to study theatre, she was horrified and said:” Go and do the law and keep the acting as a hobby.”

Former Chief Justice, Michael De La Bastide, once said, “We, lawyers, are all failed Thespians.”

I wonder if Government would ever see the potential for diversification of the economy through granting support for the wealth of talent in the dramatic arts on show at Bocas Fest Poetry Slam.

Hazel Thompson-Ahye

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