The Reel James Joyce
directed by WAYNE PEARN
Bloomsday in Melbourne’s 22nd Bloomsday again breaks new ground. It will explore the Joyce who was deeply in love with cinema (silent, of course, until the late 1920s). He was not only an enthusiastic consumer of film, but also an entrepreneur who set up the first cinema in Dublin. It failed. Joyce was no businessman, and did not reckon with the difficulties of showing only foreign language films (in French and Italian). Translations were handed out at the door, a small detail that must have compromised the viewing experience.
The play, The Reel James Joyce, sets up a fictional scenario, but one based on careful historical research. What if, in the period he was attempting to make serious films, just after A Woman of Paris, Charlie Chaplin had been inspired to adapt Joyce’s Ulysses for the silent film? What we do know is that Eisenstein sought the rights to Ulysses in 1929, and that just before the censorship tide turned and the novel was declared not to be pornographic in Justice Woolsey’s monumental 1933 judgment, Warner Brothers in 1931 also sought the rights. A Woman of Paris (1924) had convinced Chaplin that he should not only direct, but also be a character in his own films. His public demanded him. What kind of Leopold Bloom might the sad clown have made? What might Joyce’s pitch to him have been? What scenes would Charlie choose as representative and as ‘treatment’ pieces? How adaptable is Ulysses to the new medium of modernity?
The play is set in Paris in the 1920s and many people, from both sides of the Atlantic and even Hollywood, want a bit of the action: Coco Chanel, Mae West, Erik Satie, and the ‘Vamp’ herself, Theda Bara, and there’s also Nora and Lucia, and many of Joyce’s characters. A glittering array. Lots of cinema history. And Joyce’s text as never before heard.
With Dan Walls as Charlie Chaplin, and Steven Gome as James Joyce. Also featuring Bridgette Burton, Kelly Nash, Sarah Plummer and Silas James.
Dates: Wed 10 – Sat 13 June at 8.00pm, Sunday matinee, 14 June at 3.00pm, Mon 15 – Tuesday 16 June at 8.00pm
Cost: $38; $33 conc. for health-card and student-card holders; $35 each for parties of 6 or more; early bird bookings until 1 June.
Getting to Library at the Dock, 107 Victoria Harbour Promenade:
PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Take 11 and 48 trams along Collins St to the terminus at Victoria Harbour Docklands (both trams pass Southern Cross Station), and the Library is a short walk (2 minutes), right on the water at Victoria Harbour, and close to the end of the Peninsula under the Bolte Bridge.
PARKING: Is free on the streets after 6.30pm. There is a 24 hour parking station, EXO, at 55 Merchant Street (off Bourke St.), $10 per night after 4pm and on Sundays, and another, Wilson Parking, on Enterprize Way (be careful, it’s the eastern one you need; the other closes at 8.00pm), off 800 Bourke St. (close to Watermark Restaurant). Night rates are $13 and $11 on Saturdays and Sundays. Both named are an easy walk to Library at the Dock.