1. Thames News broadcast about the Bear and Staff and threatened closures of fringe theatre venues in the West End due to health and safety issues.
Featuring Underground Man (Dostoevsky) with Moshe Ivgy.
Jane Ball: London’s Fringe theatres are under threat, as an art form Fringe is thriving but many of the tiny studio theatres above pubs and clubs across the capital are facing closure because of a crack down on safety standards. This theatre was recently fined £800 by Westminster Council.
Michael Almaz: It was a very, very big blow to us and we we had to ask people to help us pay that and if the Council wants to close this theatre they don’t have to prove us guilty, all they have to do is to take us to court, two, three more times, and we are forced to plead guilty, we don’t have the money to fight them.
Speaker unknown: Some of these premises are situated above pubs that have narrow staircases, winders, inflammable scenery. This places the public at risk.
Jane Ball: The complicated regulations mean Fringe theatres have to operate as clubs.
Speaker unknown: The 48 hour rule requires us to register everyone who comes to the theatre 48 hours before they come. Now that’s more than 48 hours because you’ve got to send the form out, they have to fill it in, they have to send it back which means we don’t have an audience of tourists.
Jane Ball: For many young actors fringe is the only way of gaining recognition.
Speaker unknown: Well it’s very important because it’s somewhere that unknowns can get started off where you can work – get people in to see you and so you can do plays that maybe haven’t been done before, haven’t been seen before and give you a chance to do you know real stuff.
Jane Ball: And audiences like the experimentation –
Speaker unknown: It’s much more intimate than like a West End theatre.
Speaker unknown: Well it’s experimental as well, we do things here that you can’t do in the National Theatre or anywhere else because here you’re not governed by money.
Speaker unknown: I would really like to see the situation thoroughly investigated for the Councils to get together to decide what they want from us, to tell us what they want which is something they absolutely won’t do.
Jane Ball: If a solution can’t be found the capital could lose an important part of its culture. This is Jane Ball for Thames News.
2. Cafe Theatre clip of Michael Almaz rehearsing the role of Goldin’ in Diary of a Rat, March 77 or 78.
Goldin’: (Pause) Today… twenty years ago almost to the hour I was standing here, right here in the middle of this square – a foreigner! Newly arrived in Paris… an immigrant – illegal immigrant. How did I get here? Hmm (he scoffs) by accident. I had to get to the metro station over there and to an address on the other side – some cousin, cousin of a cousin of a cousin, some distant relative – maybe he wasn’t even a relative! But he lived in Paris and he was going to give me a few tips on how to survive here on nothing. So, I decided to go and see him. I was penniless and some idiot directed me not to him but to this side of the railway station, the metro station. And this is how I arrived in this square and I stood in the middle of this square and I didn’t know where to turn, I didn’t know what to do and then I saw your mother. (laughs) She was standing there in the corner right here in this corner here (points) and I I didn’t know a word of French but I knew three, four, five words and I asked her something. I asked her how to get to this relative and she laughed and when she laughed all the other girls in the square laughed with her and they laughed again when I signalled to them that I had no money. Then your mother took pity on me and asked me up to her room and in that room was a cot and in the cot was a little girl – it was you! Twenty years ago today! Well, I stayed three years with your mother. We made a lot of money together, she prospered, I also prospered. Now every house in this square belongs to me! I’m powerful. People who laughed at me when I first arrived here have to take me to account… but I am worried about the future. Very worried.
3. Noam Almaz in rehearsal with Michael Almaz. Hamlet performed at the Cafe Theatre and the City of London School, 1991.
O, that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d
His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!
How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on’t! ah fie! ’tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!
But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two:
So excellent a king; that was, to this,
Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother
That he might not beteem the winds of heaven
Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth!
Must I remember? Why, she would hang on him,
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on: and yet, within a month —
Let me not think on’t – frailty, thy name is woman! —
A little month, or ere those shoes were old
With which she followed my poor father’s body,
Like Niobe, all tears: – why she, even she –
Oh God! a beast, that wants discourse of reason,
Would have mourned longer–married with my uncle,
My father’s brother, but no more like my father
Than I to Hercules: within a month:
Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,
She married. O, most wicked speed, to post
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
It is not nor it cannot come to good:
But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue.
Video extracts courtesy of Pam Almaz