Edgecombe, David 1952-
EDGECOMBE, David 1952-
PERSONAL: Born February 4, 1952, in Montserrat; married Leonie Lee, 1991. Education: Niagara College, diploma in radio and television arts, 1973; Concordia University (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), B.A., 1976, M.A., 1983; Thomson Foundation, diploma in journalism, 1988.
CAREER: Playwright, director, actor, and theater administrator. Radio announcer and journalist, Montserrat, 1970-71; Antilles radio corporation, radio announcer, 1971; Lagos Festival, administrator, 1976-77; Antilles radio corporation, director of education, 1977-80; WE Garments, manager, 1983-85; Montserrat Reporter, editor, 1985-90; University of the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas, instructor in speech and theater, 1990-92, Reichhold Center for the Arts at University of the Virgin Islands, director, 1992—. Founder, Montserrat Theater Group, 1970s, and Reichhold Caribbean Repertory Company, 1992. Director of stage productions, including Ceremonies in Dark Old Men, A Calabash of Blood, Dance Bongo, The Dover Road, Old Story Time, Goose and Gander by Wilfred Redhead, and his own works. Actor in stage productions, including Fences, The Blacks, The Swamp Dwellers, Hamlet, and Forced Marriage.
For Better, for Worse (also see below; produced in Montserrat, 1973), in Heaven and Other Plays, 1993.
Sonuvabitch (also see below; produced in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, 1975; produced as Making It, in Montreal, Canada, 1993), Offset Commercial Printers (Montserrat), 1975, reprinted in Heaven and Other Plays, 1993.
(Adaptor) Strong Currents (based on a work by Austin Clarke), produced in Lagos, Nigeria, 1977.
Coming Home to Roost: A Play in Two Acts (produced in Montserrat, 1978), Summit Communications (Plymouth, Montserrat), 1988.
(Adaptor) A View from the Bridge (based on a play by Arthur Miller), produced in Montserrat, 1979.
Kirnon's Kingdom (also see below; produced in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, 1981), in Contemporary Drama of the Caribbean, 2001.
Heaven (produced in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, 1991), in Heaven and Other Plays, 1993.
Heaven and Other Plays (includes Making It, and For Better, for Worse), Eastern Caribbean Institute (Frederiksted, Virgin Islands), 1993.
Marilyn, produced in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, 1997.
Smile, Natives, Smile, produced in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, 2000.
Author of radio plays, including Sonuvabitch, Coming Home to Roost, Tangled Web (based on a work by Dorbrene O'Marde), Nice Box (based on a work by Alwin Bully), and Kirnon's Kingdom.
Theatrical Training during the Age of Shakespeare (nonfiction), Edwin Mellen Press (Lewiston, NY), 1995.
(Editor with Erika J. Waters; and contributor) Contemporary Drama of the Caribbean (plays; includes Kirnon's Kingdom), Caribbean Writer/University of the Virgin Islands (Kingshill, St. Croix, Virgin Islands), 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: David Edgecombe is "one of the foremost Caribbean playwrights of his generation," in the opinion of a contributor to Contemporary Dramatists. The struggle between good and evil, with a character personifying evil, is a recurring theme in his plays, which are usually set in the Caribbean and deal with a variety of subjects. Edgecombe has numerous acting and directing credits, and he is the founder of the Reichhold Caribbean Repertory Company. Through this company, affiliated with the Reichhold Center for the Arts at the University of the Virgin Islands, he has sought to encourage the writing and production of Caribbean plays.
Edgecombe began writing plays while in his teens, but For Better, for Worse "is the first play I own up to," he told the St. Thomas Source online newspaper. Set in the 1970s in Montserrat, the Caribbean nation where Edgecombe was born, the play focuses on young couple Sandra and Derek, two college-educated activists who question their families' traditional beliefs, including beliefs regarding marriage. It shows "how difficult it is, particularly in small societies, to disregard mainstream values," Edgecombe told the St. Thomas Source. One character in For Better, for Worse, a wealthy politician, is "a prototype of [Edgecombe's] immoral, evil man," commented the Contemporary Dramatists essayist.
Generational differences also figure in Kirnon's Kingdom. In this play, a Caribbean prime minister who has joined with a white investor to pursue commercial development of his island is driven from power by his own son. This is "a symbolic statement that the younger generation may well reject illconsidered economic success," the Contemporary Dramatists contributor noted. The issue of exploitation by business surfaces again in Heaven, in which a corrupt capitalist named Sam—perhaps symbolic of the United States—preys on the other characters. The play "is an allegory of good and evil with political reverberations," the Contemporary Dramatists writer noted.
Marilyn takes its name from Hurricane Marilyn, which brought destruction to St. Thomas in 1995. The play's five characters all went through the hurricane, and the action shows them both at the time of the storm and as survivors years later. The interactions of the characters, including the representative of evil—again a businessman—explore racial politics in the Virgin Islands. "Edgecombe openly confronts racism," remarked the Contemporary Dramatists essayist, adding that he "comes to grips with the incipient paternalism extant in the relations between the races."
Edgecombe also has adapted other authors' work. Strong Currents, a play Edgecombe adapted from two novels by Austin Clarke, was written while he was living in Canada and was that nation's entry in the Second World Black and African Festival, held in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1977. Another adaptation is his version of Arthur Miller's play A View from the Bridge, in which he reimagines the Italian-Americans of Miller's original as West Indians. In addition, Edgecombe has coedited an anthology of Caribbean plays, Contemporary Drama of the Caribbean, and over the years has sought to nurture Caribbean theater. He "argues with conviction that a vibrant Caribbean theater is the best defense against cultural imperialism," the Contemporary Dramatists essayist related.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Dramatists, sixth edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
World Literature Today, summer, 2002, Ervin Beck, review of Contemporary Drama of the Caribbean, p. 86.
BVI Review, http://tnew.onepaper.com/bvireview/ (September 24, 2004), "Caribbean Repertory Revives David Edgecombe's Comedy 'For Better, for Worse.'"
Doollee.com, http://www.doollee.com/ (September 24, 2004), "David Edgecombe."
St. Thomas Source Online, http://tnew.onepaper.com/stthomasvi/ (July 7, 2002), "'For Better, for Worse, ' for Now and All Month."*