Yesterday was a near-perfect example of TLYW working the way it is supposed to.
It didn’t start out all that brilliantly; I awoke early with faceache, blogged, took some painkillers and promptly went back to sleep until midday.
When I was finally up and dressed I realised it was afternoon already and I needed to do something as I had made this promise to myself and to the blog that I was going to score achievement points this weekend and not mope about the house. I decided that an Art point would be an easy win; there’s travelling but when you get to the venue all you have to do is quietly look at stuff, so although I felt fuzzy-headed and slightly unwell I threw my coat on and headed straight out to the Hayward Gallery on the South Bank. My plan was to see the Jeremy Deller exhibition, figuring that would take about an hour, and then go home.
Well. When I got there I discovered that my antibiotic-addled brain had misunderstood the dates of the Deller exhibition and it doesn’t even open until 22nd February. That’s when my day started to get even more interesting. There I was, on the South Bank, strongly motivated to score Art points, not knowing what to do. So here’s what I did.
First I went to the food market and had an organic beef burger for lunch. It was yum. Then I went round all the arts venues in that part of the South Bank including the National Theatre, the Royal Festival Hall and the British Film Institute and collected leaflets which I pored over to see what was on that I could go to right there and then. It all worked out beautifully, I scored two Art points and had a lovely day doing things I never usually do.
Point 1: At ten past four I went to see L’Atalante at the British Film Institute.
I hadn’t heard of L’Atalante or its director Jean Vigo but the BFI programme said it was full of artistic merit and was screening it dozens of times so I trusted their opinion and went for it.
It was romantic and poignant and sometimes funny.
L’Atalante was shot in 1934 and is Jean Vigo’s only feature length film. It is about a newlywed couple who live on a barge. As the bosun, Pere Jules, says, they are always either smooching or squabbling. Jean, the young husband, has a quick temper and is easily roused to jealousy. When his new bride Juliette dances with a street peddler and then flightily takes off for a bit of window shopping in Paris, Jean impulsively takes the barge and moves on, abandoning her. He is then thoroughly miserable and distracted and can’t do anything until Pere Jules eventually finds her and brings her home.
Here is the famous ‘swimming scene’, the only non-naturalistic scene in the movie. Previously, Juliette has told Jean of an old legend that she believes in, where if you look into water you can see the face of your true love. She says it works and that she saw his face before she ever met him, and consequently knew him when she finally encountered him in the flesh. Jean laughs at this idea but then when he is at the peak of his distraction he dives into the river and swims around, and there is her image in the water, she’s in her wedding dress.
Here is this delightful film in 16 parts if you want to view it on the small screen:
Wikipedia page here.
Readers, the excitement didn’t stop there.
Point 2: Half past seven found me sitting in the Royal Festival Hall, about to hear the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir perform some Prokofiev.
I’m ashamed to say I’ve lived in London all this time and that was the first time I’ve been to the Royal Festival Hall since I’ve lived here, and the first time I’ve heard a classical music concert performed live since I was a child, unless you count that time I went to see Don Juan at the English National Opera.
It was so exciting! All the more so for being unplanned and spontaneous. I thought I was just going to look at some photos in the afternoon and then suddenly there I am at the Royal Festival Hall watching the orchestra come on stage.
As it turns out, what I had showed up for was the tail end of a whole season of Sergei Prokofiev with an emphasis on playing his lesser-known works. Prokofiev, as you all know, was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor who lived from 1891 to 1953 and is regarded as one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. He famously wrote the ballet Romeo and Juliet, also Peter and the Wolf, as well as various piano concertos, piano sonatas and symphonies.
Prokofiev: Romeo & Juliet
Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf
One day Peter opened the gate and went out into the big, green meadow ….
What I actually heard last night was some of Prokofiev’s incidental music. The evening was in two halves. Firstly, ‘Egyptian Nights’. Egyptian Nights was a theatrical performance that took place in Moscow in 1934 (the same year as L’Atalante, I’ve just noticed). It was directed by Alexander Tairov and brought together scenes from Bernard Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra, Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra and Pushkin’s 1828 poem Cleopatra. Prokofiev was commissioned to write the music and it is very evocative of starry nights. The acting parts of Egyptian Nights were performed last night by Simon Callow and Miranda Richardson.
The second half of the evening was a performance of Prokofiev’s incidental music for the film Ivan the Terrible, directed by Sergei Eisenstein, 1945.
Prokofiev: Ivan the Terrible
That’s how I earned my points yesterday and that’s what TLYW is all about.