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The Guardian from London, Greater London, England • Page 11
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The Guardian from London, Greater London, England • Page 11

The Guardiani
London, Greater London, England
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ARTS GUARDIAN Tuesday January 14 1986 Bill Paterson talks to Sarah Gristwood How do you get people to thie ballet when they cant afford a ticket Paul Hamlyn (right) has just paid 250,000 to help buy tickets or those who cant afifiord to go to Covent Garden. Tom Sutctifife reports; IT WAS hardly the invasion of the great Unwashed. But it would he naive, to expect that Mr Paul. Hamlyn's generous week' of cut-price ballet at Covent Garden could create a new non-bourgeois audience for the Boyal Ballet in a flash. "The problem," said Mr Hamlyn after a quick session with photographers' and the Brighton Bottle Orchestra and smiling children in the.

foyer, is everybody looks so terribly affluent. It's extremely difficult to target tickets. But still, I think tira1ra rlntia if rtnit-a tetaII Whitworth-Jones, but I've not" been so -goodr-aUgetting people who feek funnyi-bout coming, or fmd -thel-place off-putting." 4 a i rw A major breakthrough, in Covent Garden ifeBrisT. was the provision, of spaces in the1 stalls circle (which coat labou in alterations to 'satisfy GLC requirements, and lost about 700 at the box office because it took 40 seats to find the space). Lots OE'dejnand here.

Rathefc, dm. the youth groupsjSiffi fttpnic. arts groups that By the end oi October the applications were fulL It took about seksjsorting through thonMo5iaMl! the actual aUoqatOTsS'Efistribut-ing so much iPTiviJese is a complicated thing," even if you've made things easier by for instance allowing 50 tickets each to Inner 'London dance teachers -who'1chbse to apply. But the experience of targeting sales-hKs' -obviously proved very the Covent Garden Proms, the Royal Ballet tent, and the schools and children's performances, the Hamlyn weeks show that there are ways of bringing an institution that has grown and acquired the Royal soubriquet back down to earth where its founders meant it to be. the right place a point of sale like Marks and Spencer." Whether Covent Garden is the right place, in the long run, will become- clear if some other benefactor takes on the scheme after the two Hamlyn weeks.

Hamlyn came to Britain from Berlin in 1933. He has known Sir Claus Moser, who is three years older and came to Britain three years later, since childhood because their mothers were close friends. Moser is. chairman of the Royal Opera House board. February 12 will be Hamlyn's 60th birthday, and the seasons were dreamt up by Hamlyn's wife Helen in consultation with Moser as a birthday present (it being more blessed to give than to receive).

Armed with the money, Covent Garden then had the problem of allocating 1.0,000 ballet seats to worthy applicants (for eacli night there are still the around 180 premium seat holders on existing business subscriptions). Mrs Whitworth Jones, who had administered the Brighton festival for two years for Gavin Henderson, was invited to take on the job. I think I have tapped the source of people who can't afford it normally," says Mrs clearly lots of people were not at home the Royal Opera House and delighted to be there. In the amphitheatre I sat next, to a retired Times publisher from Eltham and his -wife, Mr and Mrs Hutchins: We thought in our twilight years we'd come and it." 1 In the foyer a family group from Mrs Mitchinson and her daughter Lorraine, Mrs O'Donnell and her daughters Lucy and Jane, and their grandmother Mrs Fuller, had got a chance to see the Royal ballet that they -would never otherwise have imagined "Thank that nice Mr Hamlyn." said -Mrs Fuller, after the "It's been really marvellous;" There were a number, of blacks in the audience, but almost no- Mrs Whitworth-Jones had one.ap- plicant for tickets, who had described herself as black and with two children, and had -written to ask if they were allowed to go to Covent Ari indication of the.un-familiarity of the audience with the grand venue was the emptiness of the bars during the intervals, even though ham, egg and cheese buhs were specially on sale. This audience had high.

We now tend to' think exclusively in terms of subsidising output, and forget that for those in receipt of the product each ticket expensively bought may1 'actually represent' a gift from the taxpayer of up to 30 a seat going to the least needy in society. Paul Hamlyn's motive. for spending his money this way is in part a desire to remind everybody that there is unsatisfied demand for the arts lie and his friends so. love, and' are' priviliged to enjoy in quantity. Hamlyn is in fact a very shy man, not at all the type to enjoy showering' largesse on a 7 grateful public as his.

embarrass- rhent arid reserve' in "public at the Royal Opera" House clearly showed- 1 Perhaps" he wasn't all vthat unhappy- at. being shaved in the Royal Box' for these per formances. He told me he'd almost rather the whole thing had been anonymous. "I suppose," he said, "that it's the philosophy of my professional life to get people to buy a book for a amount of money, to prove that there's unsuspected and unsatisfied demand. I've obviously done extremely well' out of books, but I've believed the market for them was infinitely bigger than we used to be.

told: I don't believe in under-estimating the public," Hamlyn said. He did the trick too with Music For Pleasure, which became Classics For Pleasure, and showed that there was animmense public ready to buy serious music if it was sold where' they could find it. "It didn't mean these people just discovered it. And it wasn't price either. It needed to- be provided at fluency even if he still lacks the power to suit his playing at all times to the musical occasion.

Maybe the sax is most itself when remembering its jazz origins? Some of the most interesting work was Michael Henry's Say. Ave For Me, a tribute to the soul singer Jackie Wilson, with its well-sustained, flow of improvisa-torial melody over a sober and restrained piano part. Mark Anthony Turnage's Sarabande covered less emotional grounds, and even though the music was punctuated by bells of the sort you find on hotel desks, one for each player, interest was limited. Denisov's vigorous and lively sonata came in well after pensive pieces, making effective use of the sax's pungent staccato. The jazz-inspired finale was stylishly brought off by Robertson and.

his pianist Anthony Gray. Victor Sangiorgio, not only overcame technical problems with apparent ease, but commanded very much the right 1 West End is Tara Arts' lively re-working of the eighth century Sanskrit play Miti Ki Gadi by Shudraka. The fascination of this rarely performed play is that it gives a sharp and witty portrait of an ancient Indian society where good deeds struggle to surface in a mire of corruption. A courtesan' is smitten with love for a young merchant who has recently lost all his wealth. She sets out to win him but gets both of them into all sorts of trouble he is almost executed and she is half strangled by a rival admirer.

Somewhat awkwardly intertwined with this is a sub plot about the escape of a peasant who had been thrown because it was predicted that he would one day beyEing. Jatinder Vermas prose adaptation is crisp without losing some of the poetic qualities of the original and his production shows a company of Asian performers growing in skill and discipline. Among them. Nizwar Karanj, doubling safe the merchant's segttaraand1 a long-winded stands out for his-iifijieosense of, comic timing. What problems there are stem from the question of how you play Sanskrit drama' today.

The traditional aes-' thetic of where the1 main concern is the erao-; tional flavour of each would be pointless for audiences brought up to look for-psychological conflict and1 dramatic climax. Jatinder Verma has wisely opted for something halfway, between stylisation and realism. This works best on the; physical level where much of. the action has been ably cho-; reographed in traditional South Indian style by. Shobana Jeyasingh.

But the production still lacks light-; ness. A faster pace and a. less declamatory style of acting from some of the cast; would make the story both, clearer and funnier. The intention, as Camilla Whit worth-Jones who was in charge of distribution of the tickets (price 3, 2 and 1) explained, was not just to proselytise for ballet. It was hoped plenty of people in the audience had never 'been to the Garden before, arid some certainly would be ballet novices.

But Hamlyn's week is equally intended for those who truly can't afford the normal prices, and for others who found Covent Garden off-putting on different grounds social or geographical. On the basis of Friday night's opening shot, and Saturday matinee, the scheme was probably working quite well. There were TELEVISION Hugh Hebert Robert Graves HE LOOKED like a bruiser and came on like a butterfly. A cabbage white, to be pre cise. 1 naa never seen uooerx Graves on television, and, the surprise of Bookmark's (BBC 2) gleanings from four inter views he gave between 1959 and 1969 was the apparent diffidence of the man once, so notorious for his womanis-ing arrogance.

In one having suffered the first world war as a young man, and survived, his reaction to the rest of the 20th century was often to evade it. His novels, are historical, his criticism mostly to do with the poet's timeless mythological muse, his poetry most famously about love, not sex. Muggeridge, in his 1965 interview, approached this question with a kind of bumbling delicacy. Weren't most of his poems about women? "That's what poetr mostly is, isn't it?" Graves replied with more than a hint' of that reputed ferogity suddenly appearing. But, bumbled Muggeridge, based -on particular people, or women in general? If you're asking for telephone numbers," said Graves, the tones strengthening in his voice, "I'm not going to give you any." And.

then we were back to the butterfly. Significantly, his reputation and influence as a poet were at their height in the 1950s and early 1960s, when he was for a while Professor of Poetry at Oxford, and when British poets were at their flattest and most modest and some would say, boring. Writing poetry then was what filled the time between stints at the advertising agency, and Graves's versee and lifestyle must have seemed warm and sun-blessed by comparison. Comrade Dad (BBC-2) I nearly wrote Comrade Dada has George Cole as a loyal party liner in NO POET of" his generation travelled farther, or to better effect, than W. S.

Graham. From the wordy, early poems he wrote in the shadow of Dylan Thomas, this Scottish writer found a Scottish man-' ner, a skill, in changing tone and key in the space of a line, an authority of rhythm remarkable in any age, especially our own. Obsessed with language, its limitations and liberties, lie became a writer of lyrics, elegies and explorations, of the tragi-comedy of human communication which he explores in terms analogous to Becket's. William Sydney' Graham was born in Greenock, Scotland, in 1918, and he kept the timbre he learnt among-the sugar-house quays even Picture by Douglas Jeffery sort of rhetoric for these works. Multi-noted Sorabji glittered brightly while the huge climaxes of the Scott sonata and the fugue with its elaborate counterpoints were graded and timed with excellent judgment.

Katey Thomas also showed a good sense of theatre in Berio's Sequenza though like many young flautists she is overkeen to prove the flute an expressive instrument at all costs. But Dutilleux's delightful Sonata with Grahame Jackson, as her excellent pianist was stylishly played. ARTS THEATRE Kenneth Rea The Little Clay Cart OPENING the GLC's Third Black Theatre season in the come for the ballet, not for, socialising, and at the Mahon matinee oh Saturday the hum of conversation in the auditorium during the intervals never reduced, and over half the seats in the stalls were not vacated during the breaks. These six performances in July next year will have cost Paul Hamlyn 250,000 enough to get credit as sponsor of five new opera productions at Covent Garden, or a quarter of the total' generous Amoco sponsorship of Welsh National Opera over the last decade. In.

artistic terms the Hamlyn weeks are a crazy gesture, bringing at best 20,000 people a. cheap thrill: The cost of making the arts'- accessible, now largely-neglected by our subsidised companies, is astronomically' lively reworking of The Little lively formula of songs grouped imaginatively, and with themes explained in words as well as music, Songmakers has consistently inspired devotion, and this was a programme for devotees. If. anyone expected the normally effervescent Johnson, to excel himself in an orgy of musical champagne, he' fooled us all. Until the party pieces at the end, we were given on the theme Night And Day a pleasant ramble through Mendelssohn, Schumann and Brahms, songs, duets, a quartet or two, leading to what by the very forces involved is something of a party piece, Brahms's Liebeslieder waltzes.

What even then Johnson brought out with the Founder Songmakers blending superbly, Felicity Lott, Ann Murray, Anthony Rolfe-Johnson and Richard Jackson was that for all the incidental Sparkle (much associated with the four songs involving image of birds) this is a piece leading to an almost autumnal close. Johnson as primo, With Geoffrey Parsons the most distinguished secondo, made the birds twitter charmingly. Throughout the evening the spoken 'introductions tured a year at New York University (1947-8). He published his first major collection, The Niglitfishing (1955), in the same year as Larkin's book, The Less Deceived, appeared. The tide had turned, and Graham vanished, having written one of the finest long poems of his time, the title poem of that" book.

He was presumed dead even by his publisher, but surfaced with his 1970 collection, Malcolm Mooney's Land. It is by the poems published in the last 20 years that he will be remembered his elegies for Roger Hilton and Peter Lanyon, for example, his- love-poem-in-age; To My Wife At Midnight, dedicated to the wonderful Ncssie novel by David Pownall Pryde Mitchell WHAT do you get when you put together an eccentric ex-Customs Officer turned sculptor, a musician (part time clown), tons of steel, and Bill Paterson, the Glaswegian actor, and star of the film Comfort And Joy You get A Day Down A Goldmine, the Edinburgh award-winning show opening at the ICA tonighU Paterson says he is usually reluctant to do publicity but this, show does need a bit of explaining. "You are invited," read the Edinburgh programme, "to shovel for nuggets in seductive seams for a doubtful assumption which corrupts us all. Be Suspicious this is the golden attitude of mind this trip is designed to encourage." A Day Down A Goldmine was originally George Wyllie's idea. On his retirement from customs duty on the Clyde, Wyllie became a sculptor, creating massive pieces welded from heavy metal.

Three years ago he held an exhibition at Glasgow's Third Eye gallery on the theme of the corruption of gold and the spurious value placed on the metal. He decided that the lengthy programme notes he had written would be better performed, but he couldnt learn all the lines himself. No-one but a computer could, Paterson says. On that occasion it was actor Hi'ntPT wh" appeared with Wyllie. When the show reappeared a year ago Hunter was unavailable, arid suggested Paterson should do it.

"When they decided to take 'A Day Down A Goldmine to Rrlinbureh. W.vllie invited Tony Gorman in to do the music, Paterson invited Kenny Ireland, a fellow actor and an old friend, to direct. It's not by any means the first project to blossom with Paterson's very active participation. He was a founder member of John McGrath.s 7:84 theatre group (7:84 as in 7 per cent of the population owning 84 per cent of the wealth). With two other company members he split away in '77 to do a witty production of John Byrne's Writers Cramp which transferred into London.

Paterson made his West End debut following Tom Conti into the role of the paralysed Ken Harrison in Whose Life. Is It Anyway Three years ago he joined the National Theatre Company with a character part, Harry the Horse, in Richard Eyre's Guys And Dolls, and the title role in his production of Brecht's Schweyk In The Second World War. Then came the West End, the National Theatre and the cinema. But despite this tendency to anpear in every other British picture of note over the last few years. Paterson has alwavs been up for grabs where little projects are concerned." The habit of popping up in films, he feels, is rather to be avoided.

His next project takes him back to television. Filming starts soon on The Singing Detective, a new BBC series written by Dennis Potter, in which he touches for the first time on tne paintui arthritic disease which has for years crippled his hands. Michael Gambon plays the writer, similarly suffering, who conjectures another life, escaping from his painful skin." Paterson plays his psychotherapist, cropping up in every episode "in stunning, tough little scenes." At 40, though, Paterson seems to be on reasonably good terms with the world. BOX OFFICE CREDIT CARDS 437 6877 4398499 24hr 7-day cc Booking JVSZMA 240 7200 TICKETMASTER 3796433 BACBIC AN ART GALLERY 01-6384141 Level B. Barbican Genua.

EC2 NIHONGA part of TOKI: Tradition In Japan Today Until 26 Jan Adm C2 A CI MonSat Sun BREMTFORD WATERMANS ARTS CENTRE 01-5681176 40 Brentford High St. Brentford Mx. Fri 17 Jan-23 Feb JULIAN TflEVELYAN A FIRST SURREALIST RETROSPECTIVE Food Drink available. Free Car Park SOUTH LONDON ARTGAUERY 01-7036120 ART AT WORK 10 ARTISTS WORKING IN PUBLIC Until 2 Feb Tue-Sat 10-6 pm Sun 3 6 pm Join our FREE mailing list. Send sae to Dept.

THEATRE DESPATCH PO Box 633, SE7 7HE ft- A 1 A taste of India Tara Arts' Londongrad 1999, capital of TJ3SK-GB. If you- thought you had seen all this before, you are perfectly right. It was televised over a year ago as a pilot programme, and has now befen remade to a new series. It is 1984 with jokes, all of them about shortages, rewriting history and toeing the party line. At the moment, with Gorbachev ascendent, it 'looks extraodiharily antique for something set a dozen years in the future, but let's see how it develops.

WIGMORE HALL Edward Greenfield Songmakers' Almanac FOUNDED by Graham Johnson in 1976 on lines refreshingly new, the Songmakers' Almanac is coming up to its tenth birthday with appropriate celebrations, of which this Founder Members' Concert was the first, A Decade Of Songmaking From the start, its Michael Schmidt on a fine, but neglected, poet Journey i tut in after his travels in America his time in London, anl his settling in Madron, where he died last Saturday after a long illness. He was up on Clydeside, attended the. Greenock High School and spent a -year at a Workers' Educational. Association -College. His formal education went no.

farther, although he lec Clay Cart at the Arts Theatre. were sparing (not like, the old days at all). Not just in the Brahms but in the popular party pieces at the end, Coward, Lehrer, Flanders and Swann, it was generally a question of ending not with a bang but a whisper. The party's over now, they all sang at the end in Coward's heartfelt song, and yearningly beautiful as that moment was, I only hope they didn't mean it. PURCELL ROOM Hugo Cole PLG Young Artists THE saxophone is still uncertain of its- role in serious music or so it appeared from Martin Robertson's recital at the earlier PLG concert on Friday.

Berio's Ssquenza originally for- clarinet, becomes something of a bore on alto saxophone, which has much the same character in all but did serve to show off the player's fine, almost heroic tone, and easy 0OOl 6 Alan Ayekbourn's "magnificent I OF oDISflPPROVflL? ,0 9. I Olivier Tonight Thurs I at7.1STomorat -A I 2.00&7.15. I i Standby: Any unsold 0 seats at low prices 1 from 2 hours before performance iiiiiiiihiiii Lf StorwStriK i bP FinaJ production in ENOs controversial 1 series of operatic rarities Alan Woodrow, Stuart fat, 13' If 1 IthnaRoblnion, Richard Angai i If fl I Conductor Alberta trada -Tf fecsvvv-T Ml I ProducrKlthWarnor AV T- DtiignerMirl-JannUeea i iPli" i iHnTUnT- 1 "bTM' Lighting Mark Handaraon fh 'ArT tT" FttT' wti xll I 1 PMPE FEE JliEE A play adapted from Jane Austen's PETEKSALLIS PAULINE YATtS JAMES WARWICK TESSA PEAKE-J0NES IAN GELDER IRENE SUTCLIFFE Directed by Bill Designed by Poppy 28 January 8 March the old Vic Box Office: 01-928 ThlOiCmlit 01-261 1821 09000000000.

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