Jim Haynes newsletters

Newsletter No.101
August in Edinburgh
4 September, 1986

No, not all 31 days. I managed 16 - the first two weeks of the Festival. And, as always, it was action-packed. Lots of theatres and films, lots of dinners, lots of old friends, and lots of new ones. Just like every Festival. What more can one ask? This year Corinne Berrovoets journeyed from Paris to experience it all for the first time. And she loved it! (And Edinburgh loved her!) Space will not allow me to report everything, so I will type what jumps into my head. (Like always). Again Scott Griffith's home in William Street Lane my base. It is only a short stroll to Film House and to the Traverse. I did see about a dozen films and attended half a dozen receptions. Alas did not manage to see all the productions in the Traverse Theatre nor all the theatre in the festival I wanted to see, but how much can one pack into 16 days after all…

Also it was a great pleasure to see Anna Kohler perform with the Wooster Group. Anna used to live in Atelier A2 and I am president of her fan club. I wanted her to be great and I wanted their production to be fun and stimulating. She was; it was. I am so proud of her. So was Corine. Anna introduced us to most of the company and we were able to dine together on two occasions. Their production "The Road to Immortality (Part 2)", is a collage of wild associations; the more one brings to it, the more one gets back. I loved it! Thanks Anna, Michael, Steve, Jim and the rest of the company. Good luck with your European tour…

Herzmark hosted a wonderful party. She and Annie Reddick invited scores of performers. It was a great success. ( Another evening Herzmark organized a large dinner party in a wild Armenian restaurant. Guests included Scott & Barbara, Nicole & John Kliphan, Herzmark & Chris, Annie and Philip Arnoult, the director of Theatre Project in Baltimore. I had a fantastic lunch with Trish & Robin Crichton. Robin also invited me to an independent film producers' party that became my going-away fete - because I rushed from it to catch a night-sleeper to London.

"The Financial Times" theatre critic, Michael Coveney, and I attended a number of the same performances. Michael is an excellent fellow and we share a common taste. He suggested that I see the Dance Theatre Group Tmu-Na from Israel perform "5 Screams". I did and found them enchanting as well as exceedingly attractive. Thanks, Michael!

One curious aspect of my visit to Edinburgh this time: I paid most of my taxi fares with a signed copy of my autobiography, Thanks for Coming! …

One of the big events of this year's Festival was the opening of Ricky Demarco's new gallery space in Blackfriars Street Church. The Lord Mayor of Edinburgh and the Polish Ambassador to Britain officially pronounced the gallery open. Lots of friends were present including John and his beautiful associate, Jane McAllister. I wish them a long and successful stay in this exciting space. Everyone had warm words for Ricky and all that he has done. Now I hope he gets the financial support to continue. I donated several hundred copies of Thanks for Coming! for Ricky to sell and to keep the money. It's not much, but every little bit will help. The Polish Ambassador and I exchanged a few words about Warsaw and my cap (which I purchased in the Centrum at last year's "Jazz Jamboree".) On another visit to the gallery, Ricky introduced me to Sean Connery. Ricky suggested that I give him a copy of TFC. And I did. I hope you enjoy itm Seanm and I hope you will support dear friends, Ricky and Jane.
Ricky, as usual, also hosted a number of theatre companies and I managed to see some productions and to meet lots of sweet people connected to these shows. Old friends, Leonard Fenton and Angela Pleasance, performed Samuel Beckett texts. ( I sat in front of " The Guardian" critic Michael Billington, and we chatted away.) I traded copies of TFC with Annabelle Apsion (the actress) and Catherine Carnie (the director) in order to see their production, "It's Different for Girls". Excellent deal. Also saw "Watching Waiters" and had drinks with Sian Farley, Hilary Drake, Fiona Farley and a friend of Sian's called Judy afterwards. I also re-established contact with Arnold Wesker via Ricky as well as meet a bunch of great kids from Yugoslavia. And I met Joanna Przybyla (from Poznan) and Christopher Rathbone (who lives in Fife). So thank you, Ricky! And thank you, Jane! Long life to you both! Hooray! Hooray!

I had a great dinner one evening in the Bee Hive with Isabel Hilton, Neal Ascherson, Yorick Blumenfeld, and Jared Blumenfeld. It's always a joy to dine in the Bee Hive and when the company is also good, I makes for great theatre. (I do enjoy reading your column in "The Observer" every Sunday, Neal.) Isabel reports that she has been appointed South American editor for a new London newspaper. Good luck! I do enjoy reading articles in newspapers and magazines written by friends. (I suscribe to "The Guardian Weekly" so I can read Martin Walker's articles; it's like getting a weekly letter from a friend. Martin stayed here in Atelier A2 when he was representing "The Guardian" in Paris. And we had a great time…)

As I have already stated, I saw about a dozen films this year. I also spent a lot of time in The Film House. I must thank Jim Hickey and Gay Cox for their hospitality. Greg Edwards, who runs the Film House bookshop, even agreed to stock Thanks for Coming! and I know he has sold at least one copy because Judith Lyons asked me to sign the copy she purchased there. Gus MacDonald invited me to a reception after the screening of "Hooray for Holyrood" - a film that celebrates 40 Edinburgh Film Festivals. Gus is now director of programmes for STV in Glasgow. Teen Macdonald and I spent some time catching each other up to date. She and Gus are enjoying their new life in Glasgow. (Now I have another reason to go to Glasgow.)

Films: I saw "Parting Glances" with Steve Buscemi playing one of the principal roles. He and I dined the night before with Anna, Michael, and Corine. I liked the film. And you, Steve, were superb! I saw two Polish films: "Dignity" and "A Looming Shadow" Both were moving, but I suppose I like "A Looming Shadow" a bit more. I saw Denys Arcand's film, "The Decline of the American Empire" in Cannes this past May, but I liked it so much that I went again to see it in Edinburgh. (And insisted Trish and Robin Crichton see it as well). And I liked it even more the second time. Denys had another film in the festival, "Rejeanne Padovani", about corruption in city politicsm and it was also very good. Dear friend and neighbour Dusan Makavejev also in Edinburgh for the Film Festival. He and I watched a Soviet film, "Twenty Days Without War", directed by Alexei Guerman. The opening few minutes was one of the most beautiful black & white panoramas I have ever seen. Thanks, Dusan, for suggesting that I see it. I also see John McGrath's film, "Blood Red Roses" and chat briefly with John afterwards. Also see old friend Michael Kustow at the screening. The Film House had great soup!

In Cannes last May, Hercules Bellville introduced me to a smashing lady from Koln. He name: Heike-Melba Fendel. She also attends the Edinburgh Film Festival. (So does old palm Hercules). One afternoon Heike's equally beautiful friend, Mila, takes some photographs of me sitting on a large motorcycle with Heike's long beautiful blonde legs flying over my shoulders.

Hercules, along with Barbara & Murray Grigor, construct a large HOLYROOD sign on Arthur's Seat, a large volcanic park in Edinburgh, a la HOLYWOOD. It's silly. It's fun. "The Scotsman" newspaper features it on the front page. Murray gives us all a ride into Edinburgh; we four plus Corine had all been at Angela and George's annual Sunday brunch. We stopped to photograph their creation and somehow or other Hercules lost a pair of field glasses. I'm sorry, Hercules. I hope they have turned up somehow.

I saw Act I of Tom McGrath's "Kora". I wanted to see the second half, but I had to be in another part of Edinburgh. It was fun. I'm sorry I didn't see Act 2. Forgive me, Tom. You too, Jenny. (Jenny Killick directed). Jenny is Artistic Director of the Traverse. She and everyone at the Traverse were extremely kind to me again this year. I spent a lot of time in the restaurant (thanks, David) and in the bar (thanks, Sheena). I'm very proud of the Traverse and all it has accomplished over the past 24 years. (I date the beginning of the Traverse from the first productions in the Paperback Bookshop in 1960).

Sigrid Mavor gave a dinner party one evening and it was an opportunity to see a lot of old friends: my old economics prof, Alan Peacock and his wife, Margaret; Fannie and David Baird (It was David who pulled Jesper out of Viveka's womb. Thanks David.); Gunnie MacPhail (who met her husband, Tam, in my old bookshop; now the two of them have a bookshop in Stromness.); Stuart Conn (I produced a play of his in the Traverse and Jack Henry Moore directed.) and Eileen & David Michie (David had a painting exhibition in a gallery on the Mound during the Festival.) plus lots of other people including James Mavor, Sigrid's son. James and I saw a lot of each other almost daily.

Not much space left and so many things left unsaid. I spend a quiet morning reading an article by Joan Juliet Buck on Judith Miller and an article by Judith Miller on Quaddhafi. I had a drink in the Caledonian Bar with Callum Mill and we talked about the early Traverse days. I saw Michael Tremblay's "Albertine, in Five Times" at the Traverse. Superb! I talked with Elaine and Joe Gerber, Eddie Kulukundis, Jim Campbell, Melissa Larner, Lynn Evans, Brian Huberman, Zinovy Zinik, Brian McCabe, Jenny Sheppard, Kate Harewood, Judith & David Steel, and participate in the "Time Out Chat Show" with Ian Drury and Steve Grant and on and on…

Jim Haynes
September 1986

Atelier A-2,
83 rue de la tombe Issoire,
75014 Paris




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