Calabash Alley a classic local play explores the trials and love affairs within a Trinidadian community of yore – a barrack yard. The play is a humorous, yet touching dramatisation of the various relationships and ensuing rifts that occur as a result of living in close confines which offer no privacy, but instead acts as a stage for each neighbour’s personal life. However, despite the difficulties of life including poverty, drinking, gambling and quarrels that plague residents of the Calabash Alley, the neighbours demonstrate a strong sense of community.
The play was written and directed by Freddie Kissoon in 1970 and was the first to be commissioned by the leading radio station, Radio Trinidad as a means of competing with the foreign radio soap operas. The play evolved into 78-episode radio drama and was broadcasted from 2nd November, 1970 to 17th February 1971. To date, it remains the longest-running radio play by any local playwright. The play garnered much popularity among listeners and was eventually adapted as a televised soap opera and enjoyed successful staged performances throughout the Caribbean and beyond, including countries such as Guyana, Grenada, St. Vincent, Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica, St Kitts, Curacao and Canada.
Episode 1 – Wake Up Danny!
Shirley tries to get Danny ready for his job interview.
Episode 2 – Common Law Blues
Danny and Shirley argue about her father’s offer for them to move back to his home in Woodbrook instead of staying in the barrack yard.
Episode 3 – Danny gets Drunk
Neighbourhood maco Miss Mabel enlists Papa George to check up on Danny after Shirley leaves him.
Episode 4 – Papa George and Danny Duel
Danny explains his and Miss Mabel’s ‘arrangement’.
About the Playwright
Freddie Kissoon is the founder and director of The Strolling Players Theatre Company which he established in 1957. He is an actor, director, drama teacher and playwright. To date his company has staged 139 plays, 2,714 times, a notable milestone.
As an actor, some of the plays in which he acted were ‘Ping Pong’, ‘Sea at Dauphin’, ‘Drums and Colours’, ‘Man Better Man’, which was staged in London, Croydon and Glasgow for Commonwealth Arts Festival in 1965. He has also performed in two of his own plays –‘Mamaguy’ and ‘Zingay’.
As a director, Freddie has directed more than 100 plays. He directed cultural shows at Skinner Park on the occasion of the visits of the Emperor Haile Salassie of Ethiopia and His Excellency Roland Michener, Governor General of Canada.
As a drama teacher, Freddie conducted classes for American students at the Ecumenical Centre and the Peace Corps in 1968 at the University of the West Indies in St Augustine. He also taught Creative Drama at six Teacher’s Training Colleges.
As a playwright Freddie Kissoon has 66 plays to his credit, 5 more in collaboration with others and 78 fifteen minute episodes of ‘Calabash Alley’. Calabash Alley was the first to be commissioned by the leading radio station, Radio Trinidad. Up to now, it remains the longest-running radio play by any local playwright. The play garnered much popularity among listeners and was eventually adapted as a televised soap opera and also enjoyed successful staged performances throughout the Caribbean and beyond, including countries such as Guyana, Grenada, St. Vincent, Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica, St Kitts, Curacao and Canada.
Freddie Kissoon is the first West Indian to publish a book in Creative Drama. It is entitled ‘100 Exercises in Creative Drama’ and it has been recommended by CXC (Caribbean Exam Council) for use throughout the West Indies. On 31st August 1987, he was presented with a national award – The Hummingbird Medal for his contribution to Culture, Drama and Theatre.