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Ian McKellen and Judi Dench in Macbeth and segue into Mardi Gras

03 Mar

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I’ve mentioned this DVD before and have at last watched it, and it really is a brilliant production. If you click on the picture above you can see an extract in flash video. The director was Trevor Nunn. McKellen and Nunn “met as undergraduates, both reading English at Cambridge, where they acted together in the Marlowe Society’s 1960 production of Christopher Marlowe’s Dr Faustus in the open-air theatre in Bankside Gardens, Stratford-upon-Avon.”

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Ian McKellen as Macbeth in the stage version, taken from the second visit to the Weird Sisters.

McKellen is one of England’s gay treasures.

As well as his scores of awards for acting, Sir Ian has honours from Nottingham, Leeds, Oxford and Aberdeen Universities, plus gay organisations in UK, USA and South Africa. He was named “Commander of the British Empire” in 1979, followed by his Knighthood of the British Empire for services to the performing arts in the Queen’s New Year Honours of 1990. He is one of the very few openly gay knights.

In 1988, he publicly came out as a gay man during a BBC Radio 4 discussion about the Thatcher government’s infamous “Section 28” of the Local Government Act, making illegal the public “promotion of homosexuality.” He overnight became an active member of the movement to change those UK laws which discriminate against lesbians and gay men. He is a co-founder of “Stonewall” which works for social and legal equality and he annually directs its principle source of funding “The Equality Show” at the Royal Albert Hall.

Judi Dench is a brilliant Lady Macbeth, her scream during the sleep-walking scene (not in the nude) really does chill the bones.

1323.jpgLADY MACBETH
Out, damned spot! out, I say!–One: two: why,
then, ’tis time to do’t.–Hell is murky!–Fie, my
lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we
fear who knows it, when none can call our power to
account?–Yet who would have thought the old man
to have had so much blood in him.

Doctor: Do you mark that?
LADY MACBETH: The thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now?–
What, will these hands ne’er be clean?–No more o’
that, my lord, no more o’ that: you mar all with
this starting.
Doctor: Go to, go to; you have known what you should not.
Gentlewoman: She has spoke what she should not, I am sure of
that: heaven knows what she has known.
LADY MACBETH: Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the
perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little
hand. Oh, oh, oh!
Doctor: What a sigh is there! The heart is sorely charged.

There is another McKellen version of Macbeth. 😉

(YouTube posted by gwolfeprime.)

Another gay treasure, Rupert Everett, is leading tonight’s Mardi Gras Parade. I am not going — too many people and it’s too hot, and I am nowadays a grumpy old man, but I have enjoyed quite a few parades — you will find a lot of detail there — and I am proud of the way Sydney has so taken it to heart. When you are there it is actually very funny, often spectacular, and the crowd in my experience remarkably diverse and good-humoured.

I just read Daniel [no longer available 2008] on the subject, and I know there are many share that viewpoint, including some gays and lesbians, and I don’t expect to convince him or them; on the other hand there are many, not only gays and lesbians, who see Mardi Gras in the Rio sense, a cheeky sometimes bacchanalian event that has its place. I felt as Daniel did until I actually went to a parade and saw how the unlikeliest people, “straight” or “gay”, in the crowd simply enjoyed it — including the police, whom I made a point of talking to. From their point of view it is possibly the least violent, the least tense, large gathering they ever have to deal with. I think it’s great that Sydney generally accepts it. The first parade I shared with M (1991) was an absolute delight and a very big change for him from the China he had left behind. I share some of Daniel’s reservations about the party — I have never been to one though, as it is not entirely my taste — but would add that much of that is common to dance parties generally, and increasingly the patrons of the party are not necessarily gay.

2006 posted by dox1. The ABC’s Maynard gets it wrong though: 2006 was the 28th, not the 29th, Mardi Gras.

Satire is strong in the parade always. I don’t endorse everything about it, but I have lost my puritan objections to it. It is anarchic, but also vibrant, and as I said mostly very funny. It also makes the excellent point that we could all well do with being a bit less judgmental. Really, don’t look at media representations only. Experience a parade. You may be surprised. The original few parades, beginning in 1978 — I wasn’t there though The Empress was — did a valuable political service. There are still good political reasons for the parade, and many groups marching who have serious things to say. Also, as I noted when talking about the Homotones concert a little while back, Mardi Gras is more than the Parade. It is one whole month’s cultural festival. See for yourself. Every NSW Premier and every Prime Minister except John Howard has officially endorsed the program for at least the past twenty years. Of course it brings in tourist dollars…

It is certainly preferable to war or terrorism.

M is going to a related party tomorrow though, and I did see some cute young things in Elizabeth Street earlier this evening, one wearing a pair of white wings and not much else. Very sensible on a day when the temperature has reached 31C and has been very humid.

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I think Shakespeare would have understood, though Malvolio may not have:

Art any more than a steward? Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?

Later

From ABC News:

Over half a million people have turned out on Sydney’s streets for the 29th annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. Oxford Street was awash with glitter and sparkle as 117 floats representing all areas of society came out to support the gay and lesbian community.

The traditional pink had a somewhat greener tinge, with a number of floats drawing attention to the climate change issue.

Members of the Rural Fire Service, New South Wales federal police and Surf Lifesavers marched alongside Dykes on Bikes, and the drag alter-egos of Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd and his deputy Julia Gillard.

Organisers of the event say around 8,000 people took part in the parade.Police say they have arrested and charged a number of people for minor offences but that the event was mostly peaceful.

…as usual.

Here (thanks to fazza84 and it’s #4/7) is a glimpse of what I didn’t see last night. 😉 It is a bit blurry, but I swear I saw the cute guy with the angel wings in the first few seconds… What you see appears to be a Kylie Minogue tribute…

Late news: from someone who participated

6 March 2007: Read parade by gav25.

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2 responses to “Ian McKellen and Judi Dench in Macbeth and segue into Mardi Gras

  1. podium2007

    March 4, 2007 at 11:49 pm

    But did he bend metal things with his mind in MacBeth? Or for that matter, go chasing after rings?

    Oh dear… I made a boo-boo.

    Just popping in after a semi-absence from the blogosphere.

    Bruce

     
  2. AV

    March 5, 2007 at 9:26 am

    Or for that matter, go chasing after rings?

    Funny you should ask

     
 
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