Founder of the Malick Folk Performing Company Norvan Fullerton – Photo courtesy Norvan Fullerton’s Facebook page.
THE cultural community is mourning the death of founder of the Malick Folk Performing Company, Norvan Fullerton, on Thursday at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mt Hope.
In a statement, the Malick Folk Performing Company said “Fuller” as he was known, brought the power of his presence, his conviction, and his leadership that transcended race, class, and ethos to further the development of the cultural landscape.
“Fuller’s legacy is an inspiration to generations of young people around the world; which will be shared in future posts. We are hurting, but the celebration of Fuller’s life will be monumental; he is our pearl and treasure.”
The company extended its condolences to his family, who it said had suffered a colossal loss.
Tourism, Culture and the Arts Minister Randall Mitchell said he was saddened by the passing of the cultural ambassador and stalwart.
In a release, Mitchell said, “Mr Fullerton was a cultural legend with immense passion and commitment to the creative arts and cultural development. His valiant contributions to our local cultural and creative sectors, along with his regional and international impact, are unprecedented. He will certainly be missed.”
THE MAN & HIS ART
Fullerton was a performer, producer, director, stage manager, playwright and more. He began performing in 1960 with the Company of Players, which he was invited to by Peter “Thabiti” Smart. He then moved on Ronald Amoroso’s Barataria Community Council, before leaving to form Malick Folk Performing Company in 1979.
The company has won the Prime Minister’s Best Village Trophy Competition a record 13 times, and has toured extensively representing Trinidad and Tobago at various cultural festivals abroad.
Dr Efebo Wilkinson, who was working with Mausica Folk Theatre when the Malick Folk Performing Company was formed, said the two companies were very close. He said they would meet every Christmas and parang together.
“For the Best Village Folk Fair, we would be on one side of the compound, and Malick would be on the other side. At a particular time of day, Mausica would leave their booth with their guitars and drums and parade through the fair to the Malick booth, and then Malick would leave and come across to Mausica’s booth with their instruments also. It was a nice fun thing.”
Wilkinson said Fullerton was a playwright who loved folk dancing and theatre, and brought people together.
“He was a phenomenal organiser and a great person. He was supportive of everybody, supporting of any kind of work, and the proof of what he has done can be seen with Malick. They’ve performed outside the country in various places at various times throughout the year. They now have a spin-off group of juniors, and all of that is Norvan’s dream of making Malick the premier folk group in the country.”
Shiv Shakti Dance Company founder Michael Salickram said meeting Fullerton was a pivotal moment in the history of the company, which was only a few years old at the time, as he invited them to perform for a different type of audience.
“We came up with an idea to collaborate with Malick on a performance called The Ganges Meets The Nile, after David Rudder’s song. After that there was no stopping us, we twinned with the company and did many tours to many countries.
“Working with Mr Fullerton has been a great experience. For me he’s one of the most creative minds in the cultural business. He’s a man that has a vision and an insight that is far beyond most people I have ever met in my life. He was always a very kind person, willing to hear your point of view, and always wanted everyone to delve into their own creative ability and bring out the best that was in us. I think the country has suffered a great loss culturally. He would have left a legacy that’s difficult for someone to surpass.”
Along with John Cupid and Tony Hall, Fullerton created the first re-enactment of the Canboulay Riots at the corner of Duke and George Streets.
Fullerton served as National Drama Association of Trinidad and Tobago (NDATT) chairman; a Queen’s Hall board member; National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) management committee; Prime Minister’s Best Village Trophy Competition programme manager for several years; and a member of the Sports and Culture Fund during his tenure within the sector.
He obtained certification from UWI (Extra Mural Creative Arts, now Open Campus) in Production Management, Creative Writing and Folk Theatre and Music and has been involved in its administration.
He has also produced and directed works for television (TTT), state agencies – the National Carnival Commission (NCC), the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation (TUCO), the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA), the Downtown Carnival Committee, Tobago Heritage Festival – as well as private companies and government ministries.
Fullerton’s meritorious contributions to community service and culture in Trinidad and Tobago were recognised nationally in 2003 when he was awarded the Chaconia Medal Silver.