Marina Ama Omowale Maxwell

Marina Ama Omowale Maxwell, also known as Marina Maxwell and Marina Maxwell Omowale,[1] is a Trinidadian playwright, performer and poet. Associated with the Caribbean Artists Movement in London in the late 1960s, working with Edward Kamau Brathwaite, back in the Caribbean she was responsible for developing the experimental Yard Theatre,[2] which was "an attempt to place West Indian theatre in the life of the people [...] to find it in the yards where people live and are."[3] The concept "yard theatre" was considered revolutionary by Brathwaite because it not only rejected the traditions of colonial Euro-American theatre but provided a viable creative local alternative.[4]


Born in San Fernando, Trinidad, she gained a BA and MSc (Sociology) and an MA at Michigan State University.[5]

In London during the 1960s she was associated with the Caribbean Artists Movement (CAM), of which she was a former secretary,[6] and participated in 1967 in the CAM symposium entitled "West Indian Theatre" at the West Indian Students' Centre in London.[3] Back in the Caribbean, she established the Yard Theatre, rejecting existing theatrical norms and venues and instead staging plays in back yards in Kingston, Jamaica.[6] Maxwell's Yard Theatre has been described as "one of the most significant experiments in relocating theatre performance to more culturally appropriate sites. Running for several years in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Yard Theatre—literally a yard rather than a building—addressed itself to the people of the street, the poorer classes who had no access to a formal theatre often segregated along the lines of race and class."[4]

Her 1968 drama Play Mas′ — one of several Carnival-based plays dating from around that time, including Lennox Brown's Devil Mas′ (1971), Ronald Amoroso's The Master of Carnival (1974) and Mustapha Matura's Rum and Coca Cola (1976), with other productions in the 1980s and '90s by Earl Lovelace, Derek Walcott and Rawle Gibbons similarly drawing on local creative resources[7] — exemplified a belief expressed in her 1970 article "Towards a Revolution in the Arts", in the journal Savacou: "We have only to look around us and listen....{W]e only have to listen across the Caribbean, on the streets, in the Sound System yards, in the Calypso tents, in the rejection statements of the Rastafari--and we can know that we are in the presence of our own gods."[8] She called on the middle-class artists to "stop looking back over their shoulders in some misty distance at Shakespeare, at pleasing the European–oriented audiences with well-modulated verse and slick theatre, and (to) address themselves to experimenting with their own thing, unafraid to fail."[9]

Maxwell is the author of several books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, and has also contributed articles and reviews to various publications.[10]

She has served as president of the Writers' Union of Trinidad and Tobago (WUTT).[11]

Selected writingsEdit

  • "Towards a Revolution in the Arts", Savacou 2 (September 1970), pp. 19–32.[12]
  • About our own business, Drum Mountain Publications, 1981
  • Chopstix in Mauby: A Novel of Magical Realism, Peepal Tree Press, 1997, ISBN 978-0948833960
  • Decades to Ama, Peepal Tree Press, 2005, ISBN 978-1845230173


  1. ^ The Artists Coalition of Trinidad and Tobago (ACTT).
  2. ^ Alison Donnell, Sarah Lawson Welsh (eds), The Routledge Reader in Caribbean Literature, p. 349.
  3. ^ a b Stephen Voyce, Poetic Community: Avant-Garde activism and Cold War Culture, University of Toronto Press, 2013, pp. 158–159.
  4. ^ a b Helen Gilbert and Joanne Tompkins, Post-Colonial Drama: Theory, practice, politics, Routledge, 1996, p. 158.
  5. ^ "Flying T&T flag high", Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, 27 June 2011.
  6. ^ a b Ruth Craggs and Claire Wintle (eds), Cultures of Decolonisation: Transnational productions and practices, 1945-70, Manchester University Press, 2016.
  7. ^ Martin Banham (ed.), "Trinidad and Tobago", in The Cambridge Guide to Theatre, Cambridge University Press, 1995 edn, p. 1125.
  8. ^ "Who's got history? Kamau Brathwaite's 'Gods of the Middle Passage'", The Free Library. 1994, University of Oklahoma. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  9. ^ Quoted in Anson Gonzalez, Bare Boards and a Passion – The Early Theatre of Trinidad and Tobago, 30 November 1973. Via Literatures in English at UWI, St Augustine.
  10. ^ "Maxwell, Marina Ama Omowale" at WorldCat.
  11. ^ "Writers’ group honours Keens-Douglas", Trinidad and Tobago Newsday, 16 July 2006.
  12. ^ West Indian Social Science Index, St. Augustine, 1974, p. 59.

Further readingEdit