Jim Haynes newsletters

Newsletter No. 71
Edinburgh Festival
3rd September 1984

The Guardian

Saturday August 18, 1984

Michael Billington

Traverse shows

AN UBIQUITUS figure in Edinburgh this week has been Jim Haynes, the amiable founder of that Sixties theatrical power house, the Traverse. He must be pleased with his 'protégé' since, after a wan period during the past two festivals, the Traverse is back as a major force, offering 13 different productions that range from American, Canadian and South African imports to native Scottish work and a couple of Gallic monologues.


Another Edinburgh Festival! Hooray! Surely the most exciting festival in the world! There is something for everyone: theatre, music, dance, opera, poetry, friendly natives, wonderful restaurants, breath-taking vistas, round-the-clock activities. If you have never been there, don't delay, come next August. I sure as hell hope to be there once again...
This year I departed Paris by train on Sunday afternoon, the 12th, arrive London, call Ernie Eban, he welcomes me warmly, and we dine Indian cuisine.
Early Monday morning board another train and arrive in Edinburgh in the afternoon. Go to the Press Club and check-in. David Palmer welcomes me, talk with Freddy Young, then John Calder enters. Leave with John to see Sheila Colvin. Hitch a ride to the College of Art and see Ricky Demarco and Jane MacAllister. They have put together a large exhibition that fills every corner.
Wander over to Film House, check-in, meet Göran from Göteborg and we go for a quick meal and a talk.
Next to Church Hill Theatre for three Samuel Beckett one-acts. I have an extra ticket, so give it away to a student from Hamburg. He tells me he studies alternative theatre in Britain in the 60's and is very surprised when I tell him my name. He begins to talk about the Traverse and Arts Lab, etc. During the interval meet Michael Kustow, Joan Bakewell, John MacGrath, John Calder, and lots of friends. Bus to Waverly to collect my bag and meet Michael Sissons and Serena Davies dashing for the night train to London. He and I first met at an Edinburgh Festival over 25 years ago. Taxi to Scott Griffith's. His party for his associates in his English Dept is ending and I join them. Later Scott & Barbara Cruickshank have a long talk...

Tuesday, 14th August: I am up bright and early to have breakfast with Scott and Barbara. It is Scott's birthday today and he begins teaching again. Poor Scott. And poor Herzmark. Her lover, Vaughn Sigouin, drowned only a week earlier, when the two of them were on holiday in Portugal. She has asked a number of their friends over today to share music, food, talk in his honor. I go at 11:30 with the intention of staying a few hours, but end up staying until late afternoon. It is a very moving experience. Dear Vaughn, we all have to go at some moment, but we are never ready for it. Death always comes too soon. Go with Yvonne, her husband Jack Shea and their two wonderful daughters for ice cream near the King's Theatre. Afterwards they drop me at the Traverse. I meet a pretty actress from Denver, Cynthia James, and the two of us see a bittersweet one-act play entitled "Sandra the Sacred, Manon the Damned" by Michael Tremblay in a new downstairs theatre. The Traverse has sprung back. Positive vibes and energy once again in the building. And it is packed with people. I eat in the Traverse restaurant and meet Tom Fenton and his lady friend, my old friend Annabel Whittet. What a surprise! (I hope Mary F is OK...)

Wednesday, 15th: Cynthia decides not to leave Edinburgh. She will move into Scott's with me for a few days. Jenny Brown calls from Radio Fourth and invites me to be on her program next Saturday morning. I accept. Sue Miles calls from London to ask if she can come up and stay with me. I say sure. Go out to Film House and see "Silence to Silence", a film about Samuel Beckett made by Irish TV. And it is excellent. I immediately think John Calder or Faber & Faber should distribute it as a videocassette. Drinks afterwards and meet the director,Sean O Mordha. Also talk with Owen Dudley Edwards. Meet Yvonne and she says she wants to interview me for the "Sunday Times" colour supplement. Later I go to another movie, "Sunset People" by Jana Bokova. She and I dined together ,once upon a time chez Rex Pyke. I like her movie. Later I meet Melvie Arslanian.
Go to the Lawnmarket and see "Mess", then down to the Traverse and a lot of talk with friends: Neil Cunningham, John Fowler, and the actors from "Mess".

Thursday, 16th: Begin the day walking to "Better Books". Eric tells me he has re-ordered Thanks for Coming! four times. Hendersons for lunch. Later walk to the College of Art and visit with Ricky. He moans that this might be his last exhibition. Not necessarily a bad thing. I feel he is over-doing it. He needs to rest a bit. I would love to see Ricky and Jane run a small café next Festival. Go to see Andrew Dallmeyer's "The Opium Eater" with Neil Cunningham playing Thomas de Quincey. It is excellent! (Sit next to an angel named Helen Tulley.) Talk briefly with Andrew and Vivian. Walk to Traverse. Meet Tom Mitchell and we talk briefly. Jenny Dean, the Traverse Press Officer, tells me that Radio Forth want me for another program on Saturday. I promise to say only good things about the Traverse. (Last year I said I was worried about the Traverse. So were lots of people. But this year all seems wonderful again.) Go to Scott's, talk with him and Barbara. Alisse arrives with her new fella. Cynthia and I go to Film House to see Melvie's strange film, "Fading". early morning breakfast feast. Go to the Press Club. See Ricky, John Martin, Frank Dunlop, Leonard Fenton. Wander round to the Assembly Rooms Andrew performs in "My Dinner with Andre" and he is very good. (My last lunch in N.Y.C. with John Flattau and he points out a fellow who was in the film, who lunches next to us.) Stewart Preston, who plays "Willie" in "The Opium Eater", sits near us... and I go over and congratulate him. Afterwards go to Scott's, Cynthia grabs her bag and departs. Barbara cooks a cake and Paula, Poni, and Jon come over for tea. Later go to the Assembly Hall and see "The Thrie Estaites". A superb production. Lots of old friends in it. Later congratulate Roy Hanlon, Alex McAvoy, Juliet Cadzow, David Rintoul. Don't see Paul Young or Tom Watson to congratulate them, so do it here and now. Wander to Traverse and home late...

Saturday, 18th: Sue Miles rings and I give her instructions to Scott's. She arrives, we breakfast, and Scott gives us a ride to Forth Radio. Do a "live" broadcast with Jenny Brown which later includes Ricky and .a jester from New Zealand. Sue and I wander about Stockbridge and into the Stockbridge Bookshop. They have copies of TFC and I am asked to sign them. I do of course. Sue and I walk to Hendersons for coffee and meet a nice fella from Baltimore who knows Anselm Hollo. Then to Forth Radio and I am surprised to find Nicholas Fairbairn. I have not seen him in years. No fireworks develop. I bare him no ill will. I have no regrets. (Me and Ms Piaf.) I am pleased with the evolution of my life. We talk about the early days of the Traverse. Sue and I walk to the bottom of the Mound and catch Poni's street performance. Then I treat all of them to a lunch at Hendersons. Then back to watch Paula perform. It is my first time to see her and she is wonderful as I knew she would be. In the evening watch Delphine Seyrig and Georges Wilson perform in French a play about Sarah Bernhardt. (Georges is Monique Janin's brother.) Beautiful Rebecca Pidgeon, Sara Griffith's pal, comes over to sit with me. She tells me she is at RADA in London. I tell her Sara is acting in. Rhode Island. Later I meet Sue Miles at the Traverse and we go to see "Some Like It Cole", a wonderful revue with three great ladies singing Cole Porter songs. Go behind stage and introduce myself, congratulate the cast, and Steven Ullman. Sing all the way home.

Sunday, l9th: Go to Traverse and see "Still Life", directed by Molly Fowler. It is excellent; the production originated in Utah. Post-Vietnam America. Delphine Seyrig also in the audience. Eve Pomerance and her pal, Deda, ambush me after the performance. We go see Judy Chicago's "The Dinner Party", catch the end of the Jazz Parade in the Grassmarket, then walk to Scott's for tea. Barbara cooks a fried chicken dinner for ten people. I go to the Traverse and meet Joe and Elaine Gerber in the restaurant. Then see Marcella Evaristi's "The Works" in the Traverse. She is good. Sit next to a beautiful girl from London...

I see we are nearing the end of another newsletter, so it is impossible to report another eight days of fun in Edinburgh and to describe the wonderful dinner at a Greek restaurant in London on my way to Paris. All I can say is that Edinburgh is great, the Festival is great, life is wonderful, I'm well & full of good cheer, and look forward to hearing from you and to seeing you...




Jim Haynes
September 1984

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




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