Tag Archives Hope Street

A SILK PURSE: THE EVERYMAN THEATRE, LIVERPOOL

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Before it was the Everyman Theatre

it was Hope Hall Cinema – and bar –

frequented by Dooley, Henri, McGough,

the Liverpool Scene. I saw Jean Renoir’s

1939 black and white ‘La Règle

du Jeu’ – Chekhovian, dystopian

entre deux guerres – in what was an untouched

dissenters’ chapel four-square between

the two cathedrals on Hope Street.

 

It became a theatre known for new writing,

new music – all with a political edge

and with humour, thumbing the collective nose

to one rule, one game – and genuinely

original staging of classics: the Bard’s,

Brecht’s, Brighouse’s examination texts.

Coach loads of young people from Liverpool,

Lancashire, Wirral and Cheshire would watch

the likes of Julie Walters, Jonathan Pryce,

Antony Sher, Alison Steadman

perform at rapt matinees, their teachers

relaxed that all was as it should be,

that they would never forget that afternoon.

 

That group of boys had seen ‘Hobson’s Choice’

the year before and we prepared for

‘Julius Caesar’ even more thoroughly,

listening to the Argo recording –

with Richard Johnson as Mark Antony –

while following the text. At what point

the parallel plan began to take shape –

with such diligence and application,

such textual scholarship and retail research –

or what inspired it or whom, I never

had the humility or joy then to learn,

and now too many threads have been unravelled.

 

As Act Three began – ‘The ides of March are come’,

‘Ay Caesar but not gone’ – some of the boys

began to be restless. ‘You gentle Romans -‘

Alan Dossor, the Artistic Director,

as Mark Antony, began. ‘Friends, Romans,

countrymen, lend me your ears.’ I can still see

the pig’s ear arcing towards the stage,

hear the audience’s gasp. Dossor paused,

picked up the ear by its tip and tossed it

stage left to much applause.

 

 

Note: the poem was inspired by current developments at the theatre: https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/the-company-2017

 

 

 

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