Three feature pieces.
Opera’s Dame Janet, now retired from the stage to song performance, takes to sea on a yacht, the better to understand the rhythms of Elgar’s Sea Pictures, of which she is already the world’s authority.
She was playing with the sound of the waves from the bow, it seemed to me, ‘Never before under sail’, she said. It was very close to song. The pitch was good. She had our precise rhythm. ‘Sometimes to sea, but never before under sail.’ So well did she know the behavior of her own voice that she spoke softly ahead and we heard her aft, by way of the breeze. She was at the mast, ahold of the rigging, a scarf to guard the hair, a kerchief to shelter the throat. ‘Never before,’ her husband Keith said, ‘quite true.’ Keith was also her manager, and he looked nervous for her. She sang at concert in Sydney yesterday, and must sing again tomorrow. I called her to the cockpit, but she stayed where she was. She peered over her sunglasses. ‘Do you think I am fragile in my old age?’
Paula Dawson is an artist who works with holograms. Most famous of her works is a virtual re-creation of her 1989 New Year’s Eve party room the following morning, in which the debris recalls the actions in time past.
Here, she builds a hologram of the Holy Spirit, for the worshippers in St Brigid’s Church, working throughout the night on a tremor-insulated stage near Adelaide.
INSIDE THE CROFT of the Wizard of Louth in Ulster, on a winter’s night in the year 465, a vision of the Holy Spirit made an appearance to St Brigid. Inside a laboratory south of Adelaide, on a winter’s night in 1995, Paula Dawson was arranging a vision of the Holy Spirit for its appearance in St Brigid’s church at Coogee NSW.
Watches one of the finest character actors in the world, perform political satire to live audiences.
A character actor puts on display enough clues to passions, to terrors, and to their disguises, for us to recognize the personality. From a very fine character actor we will also recognize, in startled retrospect, the unexpected and enigmatic as wonderfully inevitable. The opposite case, the actor who brings to a performance a ready-made presence, consistent from role to role, is easier to promote than an actor of character. And the standard player is recognizable by the public, who do not need to fathom two personalities to understand the actor and the role. One will do. But a character actor is bespoke. So deeply does Gillies feel this, he seems nonplussed when anyone is interested in him rather than in the nature of a role. Gillies’ own face is not as well known as those he has played behind, and whenever bailed up by some passing admirer he is deeply pleased, but his eyes cloud as if with a passing fear that he may be asked to prove himself now with a short performance as Ronald Regan or the Queen of England, right here on the footpath.