Last update: 06-Dec-2013 1:00 am
Friday, December 06, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Stanley Marshall’s final curtain call
An emotional funeral service took place yesterday for Stanley Marshall, widely acknowledged as one of T&T’s finest actors, who has died at the age of 88. As the large throng at the Tranquility Methodist Church sang the final verse of the hymn, Hark, Hark, My Soul, “And life’s long shadows break in cloudless love,” outside, the black skies over Port-of-Spain were thick with cloud as far as the eye could see. The organ rang loud inside and the rain fell hard outside, suitably sombre conditions for the occasion. Stained glass windows blew shut and banged loudly as the pallbearers brought in the coffin. One can imagine Marshall would have approved of the drama. After the first hymn, actor Nigel Scott read a fitting tribute beginning with their first meeting in 1968 at the Trinidad Theatre Workshop (TTW), where Marshall had already been performing onstage for ten years (he was one of the original actors when Derek Walcott established the theatre in 1959.)
Scott described Marshall, who was born in San Fernando in 1924, as a man who “represented all that is good and beautiful in human nature.” His nature had, said Scott, won him friends across the Caribbean from Jamaica in the north to Guyana in the south, some of whom were present at the funeral. “When things got tough in the theatre and in daily life, as they are wont to do, it was to Stanley we would turn for advice,” he said. Albert Laveau, artistic director at the TTW, and Brenda Hughes, theatre director, had asked Scott to read out some words of their own. Laveau called him “a consummate professional actor” and “a major inspiration.” Hughes called him “one of the finest actors T&T has produced.” Calypsonian David Rudder arrived towards the end and stood at the back of the church. Others attending included jazz musician Raf Robertson and Noble Douglas, once a TTW dancer.
Marshall was well known as a man who cared deeply for his family, and Scott knew him as “a raconteur, joke-teller, prankster, bon vivant” who could be found at his happiest “sharing a glass with a wide circle of friends at no 25 (Charles Avenue, his home in Diego Martin).” Home was important to Marshall and his family. Garth Marshall, his eldest son, delivered a eulogy that moved many to tears, himself included, detailing the places they had lived as a family—the memories of times and places visibly flooding back were etched on his face. Photography and tennis were his father’s passions outside of theatre, he said. His father’s first car was a Datsun which he promptly crashed, then had repaired, before it was almost immediately stolen. “He never left home in a dirty car,” said Marshall Jr, and he was a “very punctual person—when he said we’re leaving now, we’re leaving now!” He would have liked that the service began at 10 am on the dot. Earlier, Scott had quoted Shakespeare. The lines, from Hamlet, were: “Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel.” Michael Cherrie finished the tribute by reading from Walcott’s Dream on Monkey Mountain, a play Marshall had starred in. “Makak lives where he has always lived, in the dream of his people. Other men will come. Other prophets will come and they will be stoned and mocked and betrayed, but now this old hermit is going back home, back to the beginning, to the green beginning of this world.” Then he was joined by Scott and four other actors who sang the song from the play, “He’s going home to his father’s Kingdom…”
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