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Landmarks with Caroline Taylor

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Caroline Taylor, 31, is a Performance Studies scholar, actor, singer and Assistant Artistic Director of the award-winning Marionettes Chorale. She also holds a ‘day job’: Online Marketing Manager at publishing house Media and Editorial Projects (MEP) Ltd. She knows that many people might very well dismiss all of that with a shrug, and she can understand why. Her mother is Gretta Taylor, highly acclaimed Artistic & Musical Director of the Marionettes, and her father is Jeremy Taylor, British-born author and journalist (he was the BBC’s only source of information during the bloody insurrection of 1990) and co-founder of MEP. The other co-founder in the business is her beloved godmother, Joanne Mendes, who also happens to be a founding member of the Marionettes. 



To the onlooker it would certainly seem like she was born with the figurative ‘golden spoon’, and simply walked the path already laid out for her by others. She herself questioned her choices many times but eventually could not ignore the fact that she was indeed being drawn there, of her own accord. Perhaps it is the very ‘obviousness’ of it that also brought an obstinate determination that she would be doing it her own way. She was blessed with opportunity, yes, and inspiration for sure, but her path would be forged by her, not by virtue of her birth or circumstances. She earned herself a place at Williams College in Massachusetts to pursue Performance Studies, a combination of drama, music, dance and anthropology. When she first arrived, the students were told that if every single notion they’d ever had about ‘performance art’ wasn’t turned on its head by the end of it all, then they had wasted their time there. Her time wasn’t wasted there. By the time she left Williams, Caroline knew without a doubt that she had made the right choice for her life, no matter how it came about. 


Her ‘art’, going beyond just great talent, became the voice that spoke of everything she believes in and the medium by which she will achieve her purpose, which she says is to simply ‘bring light’. It seems she has always known it… according to her mother, the first word she ever spoke was “light”, and her first production reflected it too. It was called ‘Pack Light’, a satirical one-woman play that took a dig at the stereotypical treatment of ‘less-than-white’ people that she encountered first-hand in her travels, and which she wrote, produced and performed. She has since added several critical achievements to her resume, including several scholarships and fellowships. She’s also the first Trinidadian to have taken part in the Fringe Festival in NY. “Pack Light’, "Medea" (USA, 2002), "Sex, Lies & Money" (Trinidad, 2009) and most recently "Lotto Madness” are all highpoints in her stage career, as was meeting and working with Ella Andall. These all represent huge breakthroughs in her evolution as an actor, writer and producer. She will appear on film next, in the sequel to ‘A Story About Wendy’, a part that was specifically written with her in mind by writer/producer/director Sean Hodgkinson.


Her immediate goal is the successful staging of “Landmarks”, the Marionettes’ celebration of 50 years of magnificent performances. She takes her role in the chorale very seriously, keenly aware of the special legacy she carries and taking immense pride in it. Founded in 1963 by Jocelyn Pierre and June Williams-Thorne to compete in the 1964 Music Festival, the Marionettes were the first choir formed in the newly independent republic. They continued to compete intermittently, winning the title of Most Outstanding Choir every time, until they retired undefeated in 1980. With bpTT as their loyal sponsor since 1972, they went on to win major prizes competing against some of the best choirs in the world. They were the first choir to blend voices with steel when they performed with the PanAm North Stars steel orchestra. Caroline is a founding member of the Youth Chorale and is now the youngest ever member of the Senior Choir.


Although very much involved in ‘giving back’ to the national community from inception, the Marionettes don’t as yet have a home of their own. They are actively working to change that, and Caroline is very passionate about seeing that through to fulfillment. For most of the last 45 years, they have rehearsed at All Saints’ Church but now they aim to build a multi-arts facility to support not just their own future in the landscape of the performing arts in T&T but others as well, including the Marionettes Arts Outreach Pilot Programme which will provide workshops, scholarships and mentorship schemes. Caroline calls it “their community of light & love”.


As the reins of leadership begin to be handed over to a new generation, Caroline is – by her own efforts - in the running for the role of Artistic Director, and primed to ensure that she carries on the legacy in a way that honours the high standards already set by those that went before her. She says that there have been times when she’s been really terrified that she would fail, and times when she knew there were people who wanted to see her fail - thinking that she got things too easily – but all that matters is that she knows she has worked hard to get where she is, and earned it with her own ‘blood, sweat and tears’. She worked the two jobs to pay the bills while at school and during her time in NY & London, and works about six now to pay the mortgage on the home she just recently purchased (a definite ‘fixer-upper’ but, as she says with a broad smile, “ALL MINE!”).


Her dreams as a kid, the ones she once questioned as being ‘too obvious’, have blossomed into a very fulfilling reality already, but she still has a long way to go before she believes her life purpose is achieved. As she started with ‘Pack Light’, she wants to continue to challenge stereotypes and status quos, and give people cause to question their beliefs, and to have her work make an impact beyond her immediate sphere and lifetime. And, hopefully, get to tell a great story on stage at London's National Theatre. 
Landmarks runs from July 12 -14 at Queen’s Hall


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