Saturday, June 23, 2012
In memory of Robert Paterson, actor.
I was so shocked by Robert's death I could think of nothing in response but a couple of cliches. He died suddenly in his home during a run of "The Tempest". Seeing the show last night brought him back so vividly to my mind. We first worked together on the very first professional job I did. I'd adapted "Romeo and Juliet" for TAG, way back in 1984, to tour round Glasgow secondary schools. Later he told me that was his first professional job too. He played the Friar with a lovely impish gravitas, Tybalt and Montague with brooding menace, and the servant Peter with a beautifully comic panic. Fretting over his marchpane. His work was so intelligently and instinctively right; and he was kind to me in my crippling shyness. Last year he was absolutely perfect as Oblonsky in my "Anna Karenina". So cruelly appalling. So lovable. So human. I loved his work in that part. I hope I managed to tell him so. I remember us exchanging experiences of heart failure: of the ferocious storm in the heart that can so easily break it. He knew this. He had felt it more than once. He made a list of music for his funeral: and he carried on. I still can't find the words. The best tribute came from his fellow actors: who overcame deep weariness and grief to put on a beautiful, intelligent and deeply moving show. They so skillfully created Prospero's island: "a poor isle where all of us found ourselves When no man was his own." Robert's lines. It saddens me I will never hear him speak them. It's true actors' achievements are transitory, like our lives, and maybe even are no more than "such stuff As dreams are made on". But his voice, in all it's miraculous intelligence, beauty and skill, still lives on in my inner mind.
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