the grounds that forgiveness revivifies what revenge can only keep dead. We bring the twist that not only do people begin to speak with their own voices. but that we move into a more conventional theatrical space, bringing the play back home again and referring to its origins.’
‘It‘s such an important part ofthe play because it relates to that very equivocal ending, which I‘ve never been very happy about, because it relates to the breaking of the staff. the destruction of knowledge. Maybe however. at this point near the end of the 20th century we are in a position where . there are areas of knowledge we feel we ought not to have. Experimental embryology, the secrets ofthe H-Bomb, and so forth. I tend to think that once you‘ve made these discoveries you can‘t undo them, but with Prospero. here is a man who’s trying to throw it away.‘
‘In some sense I think it refers to some of the other predicaments I‘ve had, for instance, at the end of Drauglitsman’s Contract, where this great product that the whole drama is concerned with, is ultimately destroyed. There’s a similar conceit at work with the efforts in vain that the twins undertake in exploring the mysteries of decay and death in A Zed and Two Noughts. The Belly ofAn Architect too has similar concerns. so maybe this classic text has given me another opportunity to explore these ramfications.‘
‘Somehow the idea that man no longer needs all his knowledge to behave like a human being, all this is related to that particular instant of forgiveness. Unanswerable questions, open-ended solutions. Like all my films, which in some senses are conversation pieces wrapped up in a narrative form to be entertaining, Prospero's Books is about engaging in these arguments. And maybe. in a different form, in a different mode, the same arguments do come up again in my movies.‘
Prospero '5 Books opens at Edinburgh ’5 Cameo Cinema on Fri 30Aug.
Glelgud. a great classical actor's detinitive Prospero, on set with his chosen director.
Cricot 2’s production ofTadeusz Kantor’s Today Is My Birthday will be seen as a tribute to the avant-garde director and designer who died last year. Simon Bayly recalls Kantor’s funeral in Krakow, while Andrew Pulver assesses the dramatic legacy of the man who developed The Theatre Of Death.
t is a peculiar sight to see the name of your theatrical hero splattered all over town, especially when you are going to his funeral. In Polish and to the majority of Poles, ‘Kantor‘ simply means foreign exchange office, places that are increasingly numerous and doing rather nicely thank you in Poland these days. But to many inhabitants of Krakow and to theatre audiences the world over, the name conjures up the image of a craggy, tousled-haired Beckettian genius who animated the stage of his own inimitable Cricot 2 theatre for over 25 years.
For a man so possessed by ideas ofdeath and lost childhood and yet so vividly alive in the ﬂesh, Tadeusz Kantor chose an eloquently prophetic set ofcircumstances from which to take his leave. Taken ill during rehearsals for a performance he planned to call Today Is My Birthday, Kantor died suddenly on December 8, 1990: his last completed work (in which he, as always, also appeared onstage) was entitled I Shall Never Return. It is easy to imagine the mordant irony bringing a wicked grin to the
75-year-old’s greying face. Kantor seemed immortal to those. like me, who admired him and his work from a distance — but he himselfseemed to treat mortality like some well-known. whimsical friend.
News of his death spread quietly throughout the city during the day. In Krakow for three weeks. that evening I met a Cricot actor, an Italian. in the bar ofthe Stary Theatre: subdued but not downcast, he mused on the future of the unfinished performance. The next morning large black-edged obituary posters appeared everywhere in the streets. with ‘Kantor‘ simply printed in thick, dark capitals.
As in Kantor’s life, there was precrous little pomp and only a fitting, if prolonged, degree ofcircumstance about the funeral. A brass band played the mournful, cranky Polish tunes that featured in so many Cricot productions, leading four white horses O pulling the black carriage hearse. a brilliant mass of floral colour against the grey stone ofold Krakow. As the 1(l()()-strong crowd moved up Florinaska, perhaps the most resonant image was of the hearse and
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12 The List 23 — 29 August 199]