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.

keskiviikko, 1. heinäkuu 2020

Babe, not tonight I have a headache – a window to Midsummer Dream and its mortal fools



I read from a celebratory book about Dame Judi Dench that her husband Michael Williams – when he  wasn’t yet  her husband – was the target of an amorous interest by the ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyv. Michael was small, wiry, volatile and dangerous – perhaps not unlike Rudi, but unfortunately heterosexual.  A flattered heterosexual, though. But that was how it came not to be – and Rudi stopped keeping watch by the lamp post outside Michael´s lodgings.

This reminds me of Shakespeare’s play Midsummer Night’s Dream and the way he addresses love: mortals are fools, people suffer from unbearable love, people revenge because of twisted love. It can become dark and cynic indeed. There is an element of rape there with Theseus and Oberon – a tough knot to solve for a modern director.

Sir Peter Hall once tried to solve the problem by choosing Dame Judi Dench as Titania, in 2010 when she was 65. An ageless Titania can lead the world against Oberon? In the Bridge Theater production, Titania is played by Gwendoline Christie, known from the Game of Thrones – but I know her from Cheek By Jowl where she got her early professional start.  She looks like a fairy in her paleness and chiseled features – a fairy who could grow to an Amazon ( as she also plays Hippolyta). Director Nick Hytner has transversed the Oberon/Titania plot so that it is Oberon who will sleep and frolic with Bottom, after plotting by Puck and Titania.

This turn of plot makes many an exhilarating scene, and Hammed Animashaun as Bottom relishes in the role, and has deserved Awards for this performance. The audience of the filmed performance now online was appreciative and delighted, to the point of being riotous. The groundlings for the “immersive” staging – audience partaking in the play at the round arena of the Bridge Theatre – were rolling swiftly and strongly to its disco like ending of taking hands in a circle.

I enjoyed the performance, even if it was a too much “pop” for me in its music. There was no melancholy or other-worldliness. I can also see that laughing so much at two men going to bed drugged could be embarrassing in the end – there is no room for spiritual awakening in this version.  Some critics have pointed to this direction – the performance takes all kinds of liberties and kisses to its stride.  One Bottom To Rule Them All – and it is easy to buy in to this feelgood, strong performance by Animashun. His vocal range is phenomenal, as are his movements. To the point of being a black caricature? That is why I needed some more solemn moments.

Oliver Chris played Bottom for Judi Dench’s Titania, but now he was Oberon: he has some of the flair of young Robert Hardy, and excellent timing.  I’ve seen two performances of Twelfth Night this year: in both of them Orsino kisses by accident Sebastian and not Viola. Oliver Chris’s Orsino was one of them. I think this gag is now a bit old. To become aware of True Oberon, a spiritual creature though he might as a fairy be – would be more satisfying. Seeing him adore Bottom was a whirlwind, and I don’t complain four laughing. Rude Mechanicals Play was full of modern gags, not at all stale.

I have myself been at The Bridge Theatre to see an arena-groundling-immersion version of Julius Caesar. Naturally, I was too shy to get a groundling ticket, so I can’t say how it is to be there. From the seats, it was as good a play as ever, and this time just to see and not to immerse felt fine, as well. Verse-speaking was eloquent and clear, and the swings and circus and trapezes gave a surreal atmosphere.


here is a review wondering about the boundaries and if the results are caricature sor not  - they decide not, and talk of loveliness of love 

  • 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."