26 November, 2008

Lindsay Kemp

Way back in the seventies, I first became aware of the incomparable Lindsay Kemp and made sure that we saw every one of his shows that came within range. Flowers, Salome and A Midsummer Night's Dream . . . all magical.

The very first time we met his work was in a show of many small acts entitled The Turquoise Pantomime. We saw it at the old Tramshed in Woolwich.

In this one particular act, Kemp was discovered in a pool of light in the middle of the stage in a foetal or seedlike position. The Mozart Laudate Dominum began to be played - one of my most favourite pieces of music. As the piece developed, Kemp grew shoots and began to grow - taller and taller. His limbs became stronger and he gloried in his prime with the most wonderfully joyful movements of his arms and ecstatic glances all around. By slow degrees, though, his strength diminished and he began to shrink and crumble. Heartbreakingly, this process continued as his disease took hold until, as the final notes played, he was again lying lifeless on the floor. At that point, in the theatre, I was utterly moved and tears were pouring down my face.

I never saw the piece again but have remembered it all these years with complete clarity and have often told people about my experience. I never thought to see it again . . . but NOW . . . I find it on the wonderful YOUTUBE!

It is a seriously imperfect film and the music is all wavery but I am SO THRILLED to be able to see it.

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