Monday, 14 June 2010

Waiting for (Sir) Ian

Purely by chance I was in the charming company of Sir Ian MacKellan on his birthday. On a tour of the Antipodes with Waiting for Godot, Sir Ian had made the long voyage West from Melbourne. I think he rather regretted bothering, on viewing the measly offering of a Tuesday night in the city. Where a Melbourne, a London, a Paris all remain abuzz in the evenings, Perthshire does not. I came to be there through a journalist friend who had interviewed Sir Ian in the morning. Naturally wanting to celebrate his birthday in some fashion, Sir Ian asked my friend where they ought to go, and my friend offered to provide a semblance of an atmosphere somewhere. At least he had a very useful name to drop.

Besides some very interesting conversation - featuring anecdotes of HM the Queen and Nelson Mandela and even of the fireworks man at the Sydney New Years Eve celebrations - Sir Ian's manager "managed" to arrange us tickets at a much more affordable 1/3 of the actual (and V expensive) price. Thank goodness he did so, because it was just astounding. My memory of the play from English Literature was not terribly favourable. However it is a perfect example of plays being written for performance and not for mere study. It was quite fascinating, and particularly for somebody often lost in introspection it was wonderfully satisfying. Do we exist when nobody else will acknowledge it? And then do other people and our interactions therewith prove that we do indeed exist? Quite marvellous.

I found it quite interesting that the actors used English accents (Sir Ian opted for Yorkshire), most English language productions have been done with Irish accents. There is a scene in which the characters make fun of the word "calm" and it's English pronunciation. However in general it was done quite brilliantly, the quick pace of dialogue punctured by some very clever physical comedy. Naturally MacKellan was the highlight, and he did rather outshine his colleagues, though this should by no means diminish the performances given by the other actors.

As a seventeen year old, it is much harder to appreciate some of the messages of this play. It is a tall order for a teacher to convey its merits convincingly, but now, five years on, I feel that I have a (somewhat) better grasp of the thing. I still don't know that I necessarily like it, but it truly gave me food for thought. Ideas such as our being born astride a grave demonstrate both the joy and curse of humankind. Our knowledge of mortality affords us much dignity, but at the expense of so much. My walk to the train station is a very short ten minutes if I cut through a cemetery (I'm trying to cut down on both fuel expenses and my carbon footprint and also to retain the communal sense I had as a London commuter) and as I wander past so many derelict and forgotten monuments I can't help but think about my own posterity, or lack thereof. Were something to happen to me in the immediate future, KorE? Twitter, Facebook would all still carry on in a dust-gathering form. Do I prefer an ethereal version of myself never to decay, or a humble gravestone or some such physical memorial? Frankly... neither much appeals!

At any rate, I endeavour now to be sure to withhold judgement of any work until I experience it within its proper context. There is a richness to so much that can be rendered invisible and unpalatable by an unfortunate chance of medium. And my over-active prejudices.


  1. I always love your blog so I've tagged you in yet another meme (even if waiting for you to do it might feel a bit like waiting for Godot!)

  2. Perth isn't that it? I like it, but it isn't as if I have lived anywhere else.

  3. Not sure why I haven't commented on this except that we chatted about it on twitter- but I am green with envy and can imagine you two getting on famously (no pun intended).