maanantai, 6. heinäkuu 2020

The angry, dreamy, simmering Prosperos



Here is the Our Revels Are Now Ended speech from The Tempest by Shakespeare---a (poor) audio from the 1974 Tempest by Paul Scofield - a dreamy, deep, simmering under the surface one- Listen to the way he says “dreams” ---

and then Simon Russel Beale, from RSC’s Tempest from- 2013?  It is total disappointment, the angry, weary confession of atheist/New Man – there is a dreamy Spirit scene before it, very beautiful.


Our revels now are ended. These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits and

Are melted into air, into thin air:

And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,

The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve

And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff

As dreams are made on, and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.


William Shakespeare, From The Tempest, Act 4 Scene 1

As much as I love Scofield, there is perhaps better ground for the Beale Russel/Greg Doran interpretation. At least, I felt I understood the play better.

I have seen this play at The Finnish National Theatre with Esko Salminen as Prospero. He duly milked the romance from this text – it was a coherent performance tilted towards The Heroic Magical tale. Instead of an existential, odd, philosophical one.

This play is so clearly related to The Midsummer Nights Dream – I am hoping one day to see a performance of The Dream Fairies as earth-like as Caliban. Peter Brook made The Tempest before the 1970 Dream – so it was a journey to travel and unleash new meanings from the text.

Lastly, just some fangirling pics. Vanessa Redgrave and Scofiled, and Paul laughing---


lauantai, 4. heinäkuu 2020

The Sulk----remember that RB may be an Unreliable Writer

Richard Burton on sullking with Elizabeth and the kids - and Scofiled:


lauantai, 4. heinäkuu 2020

When the tongues of flames are in-folded - Paul Scofield reading T.S.Eliot




All shall be well and all the manner of things shall be well. My Paul Scofield reading the T.S.Eliot Little Giddiing  on CD in the 1990s or 2000s.

Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always--
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire

And the fire and the rose are one (T.S.Eliot)

Some comments on Scofield - by actors:

 "Of the ten greatest moments in the theatre," said Richard Burton. "about the last half of the 20th century on the British stage, "eight are Scofield's."

(Richard Burton also writes in his published diaries that Joy Scofield told him that after some domestic disagreement, Paul sulked for a year. A whole year. Burton thinks this is unfathomable and not pleasant at all---),

Eileen Atkins and Felicity Kendall have spoken of his “spell” on other actors. Imogen Stubbs said that he was like a fireplace in whose warmth you wanted to stay for ever. Simon Callow speaks of his spell on audiences: they can’t get enough of him. Richard Eyre just simply calls it falling in love—theatrically.

Then there is this elegant story by Janet Suzman (who was the first Viola I ever saw, in Twelfth Night), a shortened excerpt:

Janet Suzman: how Paul Scofield's genius silenced a rehearsal studio

Frankly, I would have played a grain of sand just to be in the same room as Paul Scofield.


Into this matutinal mess strode a figure through the far door, his corduroy jacket slung over his shoulder, his country brogues marking him out as a walker, his iron-grey hair gorgeously unkempt. He nodded to the director, busy talking to someone, then strode on to the mock stage, dropped his cord coat on the floor and started speaking: Timon's speech of endless invective outside the gates of Rome, after he has banished himself.

He did that speech five times in five completely different ways, his rich chocolate-truffle voice sinking and rising to different keys and rhythms, always tinged with his haunting minor-tones, like a soul in torment, his body dancing lightly like Muhammad Ali's. Or like a master gymnast swinging and looping away on the high rings, getting those emotional muscles to do his utmost bidding.

On the word "poison" he threw back his leonine head and gave the last syllable a sort of wolf-howl. I tell you, it caught a note and the scaffolding sang with it. Rattled and sang. Completely uncanny. He cocked his head, silently listening to the echoes. Then he went on, eager to persuade the nastiest bunch of gods lolling on Olympus to:

"… grant, as Timon grows, his hate may grow
To the whole race of mankind, high and low!

That final "Amen" was rasped out in two separated syllables, the last way more vicious than the first.

Nobody moved a muscle. He picked up his dropped jacket, nodded to John, muttered "won't be a minute", like a schoolboy excusing himself, and strode off to the green room, I assume to get his own coffee.

As the door shut behind him, John Schlesinger, echoing the thoughts of all of us there that unforgettable morning, just whispered, "Fucking hell". There was nothing more to add.


torstai, 2. heinäkuu 2020

From Gilead to Gay Disco: Nicholas Hytner’s ‘Dream’ Kate Maltby- a review on Dream

Another analysis of what gives and what is perhaps lost---


torstai, 2. heinäkuu 2020

Mysterious alchemy of the imagination – the actors and their costumes, and their secret process


Caption: Paul Scofield in "The Power And The Glory" - check the hair


Acting is a mysterious business. I should not analyse it at all…but I will.

“Think of coca cola and ice cream.“ That was the instruction for Marilyn Monroe - her acting coach Paula Strasberg gave it to her. Yet it took 123 takes to shoot a simple scene in Some Like It Hot. Marilyn always forgot or messed the line “Where’s the bourbon?” Director Billy Wilder’s tale in his memoirs of this exasperating time is exhilarating – and strange.

Gerda Wrede once directed an actor in trouble, Erik “Kirre” Lindström, said to be Finland’s best actor: “But Kirre, this is a blue sentence.” That is how the obstacles to his Hamlet fell down, and he gave a performance still recalled. (it was in the 1940s).

There is this wonderful and strange story about Paul Scofield and how he was near disaster in the rehearsals of the play The Power And The Glory where he played a Roman Catholic whisky priest. Peter Brook says he and the other crew were unable to help Paul to “unlock” the role, and even Scofield himself knew that it was not good.  Scofield was playing Hamlet at nights and rehearsed the new play during days Then, at the dress rehearsal, Brook & company saw a small, shifty man in steel-rimmed glasses with shorn hair arrive at stage, carrying a worn-out suitcase. They wondered who this stranger is who had accidentally entered their theatre. It was Scofield, who had been at the barber’s after the last Hamlet performance, and had his showy mane cut to pieces. The role was there, all in place. By the thread of hair---It is said to be a great performance. Laurence Olivier went to see it twice, and said he never saw anything like it. (And he, the envious and competitive one, played the same role for TV in a few years).

I like this story because they said the 6’2’’ Scofield looked small. When I saw Scofield on stage, he looked small, too. Only at the curtain call he “grew” height – and looked like himself.

Musicians, we are the prudent petty bourgeoise among artists. We keep steady hours. When I was a student, all the rehearsal cabins 14m2 were taken by the time of 8 am at the Music Academy – except that I was part of the Evening Shift that came later and didn’t leave the Academy until 9 pm. Nowadays, with electronic keys, it is playing through the night.

 “You have not practiced enough.” I was once at a choir/orchestra practice where conductor Jorma Panula put down his baton and glanced us gloomily: “Hear the orchestra. They have practiced and know their stuff. You don’t. Do your job.”

It is no wonder that when a theatre director is given an opera to direct, he may become flabbergasted and frustrated. The work is there, the practice has been done, and (sometimes) people (especially the professional choir members) keep high standards – they repeat the practised as it is, no variations. A different kind of beauty.  As high level, though – but no room for improvisation or invention?  I have read about this director’s frustration in the memoirs of Peter Brook and Richard Eyre.

There is a common thread in the memoirs of theatre directors: actors are babies, whose main strategy is “when in doubt, complain about your costume.” Or make-up. Sir Peter Hall tells a story of how Paul Scofield became dissatisfied with his moulting furry robe in Volpone.  I dimly remember something about how he even complained about the heaviness of the cloak of King Lear.


In Finland, an actor par excellence Lasse Pöysti had once a memorable spat with Vivica Bandler. He was underperforming, and he knew it. He was the kind of actor who experiments and performs best with the danger of the first night – nothing is revealed of him until the last moment. 

Vivica. Lasse-what is the matter? I thought you would like this part.

Lasse: What’s wrong?

Vivica:  You are not funny.

Lasse (seething): Funny? How can I be funny in this costume?

Vivica: What kind of costume do you want?

Lasse: Too large trousers. And braces (=suspenders)!

At home Lasse was fuming: “The bloody woman. I will show her funny.” He got his “process” going and made a performance of his life. But remember:  the costume must be right.

  • Henkilötiedot

    Kun lukee, kokee, läpielää, katselee- tulkitsee taidetta oman elämänsä läpi. Siksi olen Epäluotettava Lukija. Muut nimiehdotukset blogille olivat Elämäni Toisena tai Minun käyttämät possessivi-suffiksit ja terssikaksinnukset. Taide on valhe, joka paljastaa totuuden.
    As Paul Scofield said: "The emotion is real, but it is not mine."