The filming of Shakespeare In Italy continues in the hours the actors have off their day jobs and it is clear we have invented, inadvertently, a new kind of movie, the fifty-thousand dollar Ben Hur, part theatre, part up-close intimate performance of classic heroic drama. Lucy and Jordan are ripe for Oscars; or in a just world they are; and, if he turns up for work today, Steve Parker, our ginger-bearded chunky bass baritone, a mysterious recluse with the impact on stage of Brando. It is a measure of Adelaide that these world standard actors — and Wayne Anthoney, Bruce Venables, Nathan whatsisname, John Paisley and Roger Newcombe are among them — must work in other jobs than acting to make ends meet in this, the crucible of Australian cinema in the nineteen seventies (Picnic, Sunday, Storm Boy, Breaker, The Club) and now alas no more than the sandpit of the sluggardly Dutch creep Rolf De Heer, whose Dr Plonk grossed less than any film in history since Edison’s Electrocuting An Elephant did less well than expected in 1909.
It is a measure too of Adelaide that the heads of the South Australian Theatre Company, the South Australian Film Corporation, the Adelaide Film Festival Film Fund and Arts SA have refused to come to the play although it has been hailed as the best in English in four centuries, a joy to be at and ‘the most significant artistic event in Adelaide in many, many years’.
I had hoped it might open the Adelaide Film Festival in October next year but if none of them turn up tonight I will withdraw the offer. The London Film Festival, I think, with a season at the Globe or Stratford just before it, seems a better option than enriching these ingrates.
Very slow people, these Adelaide bureaucrats, yawning and turning away from their salvation. As they do, as they do. It is their way.
I will see them at the show tonight, or they can forget it.
And so it goes.