17 December 1939
Trinidad and Tobago
Mustapha Matura (born 17 December 1939) is a Trinidadian playwright living in London. He was described by the New Statesman as "the most perceptive and humane of Black dramatists writing in Britain."
Born Noel Mathura in Trinidad, he changed his name when he became a writer, and has explained: "I liked the sound of it.... It was the sixties."
Leaving the Caribbean, he travelled to England by ship in 1962, and after a year working as a hospital porter he and fellow Trinidadian Horace Ové went to Rome, where he worked on stage productions such as Langston Hughes' Shakespeare in Harlem. Matura thereafter decided to write plays about the West Indian experience in London.
In 1971 his play As Time Goes By was first performed at the Traverse Theatre Club in Edinburgh and in London at the Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court Theatre, with a cast of Caribbean actors, including Stefan Kalipha, Alfred Fagon, Mona Hammond and Corinne Skinner-Carter. Play Mas was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre in 1974 (with Stefan Kalipha, Rudolph Walker, Norman Beaton and Mona Hammond in the cast), winning Matura the Evening Standard’s Most Promising Playwright Award that year.
Among his subsequent plays were Rum and Coca Cola (1976), Another Tuesday (Institute of Contemporary Arts, 1978), More, More (The Factory, London, 1978), Independence (1979), A Dying Business (Riverside Studios, 1980); One Rule (Riverside Studios, 1981), Meetings (1981), Playboy of the West Indies (Oxford Playhouse, 1984, and produced for BBC television, 1985), Trinidad Sisters (Tricycle Theatre, 1988) and The Coup (Royal National Theatre, 1991).
In 1978, he co-founded the Black Theatre Co-operative (now called Nitro) together with British director Charlie Hanson. "Frustrated by the lack of interest from London Fringe theatres in Matura's new play Welcome Home Jacko, Matura and Hanson set up their own theatre company. Welcome Home Jacko was presented at The Factory in Paddington, west London, in May 1979 and marked the beginnings of the Black Theatre Co-operative. The company supported, commissioned and produced work by black writers in Britain."
Matura's work for television includes the Channel 4 sitcom No Problem! (1983–85), written by him with Farrukh Dhondy, and Black Silk (BBC, 1985), which he devised in collaboration with Rudy Narayan.
Matura is also a poet, and in Bayswater, West London, in 1971 he performed his epic poem "Elae Elae Ghanga", and featured in an evening of poetry and music on Friday, 29 October, organised by the Caribbean Artists Movement, along with James Berry, T-Bone Wilson, Louis Marriott, Marc Matthews and Archie Markham.
- Black Pieces (ICA, 1970, dir. Roland Rees)
- As Time Goes By (1971)
- Bakerloo Line (Almost Free Theatre, 1972; performed on BBC2 Full House, 1973)
- Nice (Almost Free Theatre, 1973)
- Play Mas (1974)
- Rum and Coca Cola (Royal Court Theatre and off-Broadway, 1976)
- Another Tuesday (Institute of Contemporary Arts, 1978)
- More, More (The Factory, London, 1978)
- Independence (1979)
- Welcome Home Jacko (The Factory, London, 1978)
- A Dying Business (Riverside Studios, 1980)
- One Rule (Riverside Studios, 1981)
- Meetings (1981; Hampstead Theatre, 1982)
- Playboy of the West Indies (1984)
- Trinidad Sisters (based on Chekhov's Three Sisters; 1988)
- The Coup (Cottesloe Theatre, 1991)
- Matura: Six Plays: "As Time Goes By", "Nice", "Play Mas", "Independence", "Welcome Home Jacko" and "Meetings", Bloomsbury Publishing, 2007, ISBN 978-0413660701
- Three Sisters. After Chekhov, London: Oberon Books, 2006, ISBN 978-1840026436
- Playboy of the West Indies, Broadway Play Publishing Inc., 1989, ISBN 978-0881450606. London: Oberon Books, 2010, ISBN 978-1840029246
- Moon Jump (illus. J. Gifford), Heinemann Young Books, 1988, ISBN 978-0434949441
- Meetings, New York: Samuel French, 1982, ISBN 978-0573618642
- Nice, Rum an' Coca Cola & Welcome Home Jacko: Three Plays, London: Eyre Methuen, 1980, ISBN 978-0413477200
- As Time Goes By, London: Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd, 1972, ISBN 978-0714508832
- The Methuen Drama Book of Plays by Black British Writers, 2011
Mustapha Matura has received a number of awards throughout his career, in the UK and in Trinidad.
- 1994 : The Helen Hayes Award.
- 1991 : Trinidad National Award - The Scarlet Ibis Gold.
- 1974 : The Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright Award.
- 1971 : The John Whiting Award.
- 1971 : The George Devine Award.
- "Mustapha Matura", The Continuum Companion to Twentieth Century Theatre. Oxford Reference.
- "Matura, Mustapha (1939-)", Screenonline.
- Biography, Mustapha Matura website.
- Mel Gussow, "Stage: Mustapha Matura's 'Meetings'", The New York Times, 31 March 1981.
- Mustapha Matura page at Bloomsbury Publishing.
- Black Plays Archive, National Theatre.
- TV, Mustapha Matura website.
- Anne Walmsley, The Caribbean Artists Movement 1966–1972, London: New Beacon Books, 1992, pp. 293, 298.
- Ian Dieffenthaller, Snow on Sugarcane: The Evolution of West Indian Poetry in Britain, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009, p. 103.
- Atle Selberg biography, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, Scotland.
- "Plays directed by Roland Rees", Unfinished Histories.
- Oberon Books: Playboy of the West Indies by Mustapha Matura. Based on J. M. Synge's Playboy of the Western World.
- The New York Times Theater Reviews, 1920- - Volume 21 - Page 153 1971 Next to the intensity of "Death and the Maiden" and the breadth of "Brothers and Sisters," Mustapha Matura's new play, "The Coup," at the National, seems small in scale. It is a satiric comedy about the limits of revolution. Mr. Matura can be a ...
- "'Ter Speak in yer mudder tongue': An interview with playwright Mustapha Matura" in Kwesi Owusu (ed.), Black British Culture & Society, Routledge, 2000.