Errol John (20 December 1924 – 10 July 1988) was a Trinidad and Tobago actor and playwright who emigrated to the United Kingdom in 1951.
Born in Port of Spain, John was home-schooled, then began his career as an artist and journalist. Deciding to pursue a career in acting, he joined the Whitehall Theatre Group in Trinidad.
Following the Second World War, John moved to Britain in 1951 and continued to work in the theatre, appearing on the London stage in productions including Salome (1954), Carson McCullers’ play The Member of the Wedding at the Royal Court Theatre (directed by Tony Richardson, 1957), The Merchant of Venice (1962), Measure for Measure (1963) and Othello (at the Old Vic, with Leo McKern and Adrienne Corri in the cast).
He had several small roles in films such as The African Queen (1951), The Heart of the Matter (1953), The Emperor Jones (1953), Simba (1955), The Nun’s Story (1959) and Guns at Batasi (1964).
He gained a major role in the BBC’s A Man from the Sun (1956), alongside Cy Grant, Nadia Cattouse and Colin Douglas, and later had a significant role in the television series No Hiding Place (ITV, 1961) and in the five-part series Rainbow City, written for him by John Elliott.
John’s first play was The Tout (1949), then in 1957 his Moon on a Rainbow Shawl won The Observer’s Play of the Year award. It was produced at the Royal Court in 1958, and in 1962 in New York City. In the UK there have been revivals at the Almeida Theatre (1988, directed by Maya Angelou), at Stratford East, and most recently at the Cottesloe Theatre, Royal National Theatre (2012) in an acclaimed production directed by Michael Buffong. Kate Kellaway in The Observer wrote: “It is marvellous to report that, 55 years on, this play, in its original version, holds its own and seems fresh as the day it was written.”
Errol John’s other writing included Force Majeure, The Dispossessed and Hasta Luego: Three Screenplays (1967). For television he wrote Teleclub (1954) and Dawn (1963), and was also the author of The Exiles, part of the BBC Wednesday Play series.
John died in Camden, North London, at the age of 63. He was posthumously awarded the Trinidad & Tobago Chaconia Medal (Silver), for Drama, in 1988. –Wikipedia
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