Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

In theory, the application of Gilliam’s still-burning creativity – at the age of 80 – to the evergreen genius of the 1986 91-year-old Sondheim hybrid of folk tales was a match made in heaven. Gilliam is imbued with this kind of world – see his 2005 fantasy adventure The Brothers Grimm – and also has form on stage. Ten years ago, The Telegraph’s then-opera critic Rupert Christiansen gave his ENO production of The Damnation of Faust, by Berlioz, five stars, which paid homage to its “dramatic flair, cinematic fluidity and sheer ingenuity”.

Production is in theory not excluded from being realized – it must find a new home. But given Gilliam’s age, the clock is ticking, and given that Sondheim does not give approval to every director pitch, this is a project he probably would have liked to have seen, or seen happen, while he was still nearby.

I can not imagine that public demand will have declined because of this setback, it could even have been agitated by it. But the consequences are enormous and worrying if it is the case that a show can be pulled due to a setback from the staff that is not related to the content of the show but the opinions expressed by its creator.

True, the “indictment” could contain an allegation of inappropriate or worse travel in March 2018, at the time of Gilliam’s broadside under Weinstein gate (“It’s a world of victims. I think some people did very well out of meeting with Harvey and others did not. ”) Given that Old Vic was charged in late 2017 with ignoring staff allegations of sexual misconduct against Spacey and suffered damage to reputation, you can assume that that due diligence would have been performed in bringing Gilliam in.

You can also see why they do not want the building to be engulfed in questions related to #metoo again. My understanding, however, is that the crux of the matter lies in his publicly broadcast remarks. Especially this one: In June 2018, he reflected on the BBC’s asserted emphasis on diversity in comedy (“If you want to assemble a team now, it’s not going to be six white Oxbridge guys,” the comedy commissioner, Shane Allen, was quoted as saying), and replied with a laugh, “I’m telling the world now that I’m a black lesbian.”


By Victor

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