sovay: (Psholtii: in a bad mood)
sovay ([personal profile] sovay) wrote2017-07-03 06:57 am

O where is the sailor with bold red hair? And what is that volley on the bright air?

Oh, God damn it, Heathcote Williams died. He was Derek Jarman's Prospero and I didn't know a quarter of his other art and activism, but his collection of political, scientific poems Forbidden Fruit (2011) was one of the bright spots of a post-election December—the title piece was in memory of Alan Turing—and I had started to wonder what he was doing lately. Protesting and anatomizing the current state of America, apparently. I can't disagree with that. I just wish I had found out before he died.

Heathcote/Prospero sleeps somewhere deep in the abbey in his shabby frock-coat and waistcoat of scarab buttons. He appears, rats in his hair, to devise new games and entertainments, his efforts fuelled by the Bulmer's Cider which Simon buys each day. We have brief discussions about his role, and he shyly produces lines he feels I should keep – 'Lest the blind mole hear a footfall'. He develops a cold which gives his voice a gravelly resonance. One night, at dinner, he says, 'I've been entertaining you lot far too long – if no one entertains me within one minute I'm going to piss all over you.' Then he jumps on the long refectory table and starts to pee a cider torrent. We dive for cover. Heathcote is embarrassed and apologizes – more to himself than us. He has a wild anarchic gentleness, and is the genius of oblique strategies. He breathes fire and bends keys, not to startle, but to test divine possibility. He is an ideal Prospero, performs sympathetic magic, destroys the poetry and finds the meaning. I've rarely heard lines spoken with such clarity – 'and my Zenith doth depend upon a most auspicious star.' These words are spoken softly, not bawled across the footlights. How Shakespeare would have loved the cinema!
—Derek Jarman, Dancing Ledge (1993)

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