Their works have graced many stages across the globe.
The two were given the enduring recognition at a naming ceremony in December that was attended by Walcott, Warner's widow, Karen Ford-Warner, and members of their families. Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the Cave Hill Campus, Sir Hilary Beckles, in his remarks during the ceremony, gave an account of the transformation of the space that now holds the complex, describing what existed before as rab land and gully. "Of course we wanted to bring the spirits of our great artistes into the space as a standard for our students and for the community . . . ," Sir Hilary said. "We really hope that the students who are going to be using these facilities, the artistic community, will take the lessons of the journeys of . these great artistes, not only to celebrate them, but to seek to emulate them."
The principal added that in naming the theatre after Walcott and Warner University administrators were hoping to capture as much of the joy, pain and creativity of these respected and renowned artistes as possible in the enterprise.
"We have heard Derek on so many occasions lamenting the fact that our governments do not invest enough in our physical infrastructure for theatre, that the region is not treated as it ought to be," Sir Hilary said. "We are the producers of the finest artistes in the world and we don't have the finest facilities to celebrate their work."
An "honoured and very touched" Walcott reminisced about Warner's "ability to judge the performance of an actor and to illuminate it in explaining why you enjoyed it".
Ford-Warner said of her late husband: "I believe that Earl would have appreciated being associated with such an attractive new theatre in a building that fosters and celebrates creative imagination."
Walcott, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992, has written many plays for stage and radio, including Dream on Monkey Mountain and Ti-Jean and his Brothers (both published in 'Dream on Monkey Mountain: And Other Plays, 1972)', and 'Pantomime' (published as Remembrance and Pantomime, 1980). He has also collaborated on several musicals. Born in St. Lucia in 1930, he studied at the University College of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica. He moved to Trinidad in 1953, became a theatre and art critic, and taught in schools in the Caribbean until 1957, then becoming a journalist. He founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop in 1959, and has since divided his time between St. Lucia, Trinidad and the US, where he teaches Literature and Creative Writing. His experience of the Caribbean and of living between two cultures has strongly influenced his work.
Warner, (1952-1998) has been described as "distinctly and unapologetically Caribbean" in his approach to interpreting work for the stage. His formal training includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in drama as well as a postgraduate diploma in directing and theatre in education from the University of Manchester, England. Additionally he gained the Diploma in Theatre Arts from the Jamaica School of Drama, Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts, where he would later become a member of faculty.
Warner was the 1979-1980 Granada Fellow to the Department of Drama, University of Manchester and the OAS Artist in Residence, Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts 1988-1989. He was made a member of the prestigious World Consortium of Directors in 1993 and is often thought of as a theatre practitioner who felt strongly that Caribbean people must rediscover their own flavour and distinctive traits, that "we must sing our own song".