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The New Criterion: Shakespeare 400 at the Victoria & Albert

April 23rd, 2016

newcriterion16aA comprehensive article on yesterday’s Shakespeare 400 event has been published by The New Criterion.

Shakespeare 400 at the Victoria & Albert

The day ended on a warming note: a strong cup of tea, a ginger biscuit, and a genial chat between the poetry editor Paul Keegan and the singer/actress Toyah Willcox, who played Miranda in Derek Jarman’s film of The Tempest (1979). Willcox’s costume of rags is held by the V&A, and was too delicate to be released for this symposium. The film has aged similarly: part camp period piece, part inspired dismantling of the play. Jarman, Willcox recalled, started with “design.” He broke the final image of the play into its components, and then reconstructed them in his fashion. If he did not build a smoothly working machine, at least its coughs and rattles add to the chorus of interpretations and images.

While filming Jarman’s Tempest, the cast and crew chose to sit out a snow storm in their remote set, a derelict abbey. “It was fantastically wild,” Willcox recalled of working inside a real tempest. “We were living the dream.”

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