#DeepFromTheVaults: “Dangerous World” Poster & Doug Recollections
A poster for Dog Company’s “Dangerous World” has surfaced for sale yesterday, over at the Clive Barker Collecting group on Facebook, a spare from Russell Cherrington‘s collection (it’s being sold for $100, you can contact him through Facebook or via email) and this brought to my mind an old question I once asked Doug Bradley back in 2006 on his official website forums, about this particular Dog Company production. So, in the interest of adding some context to this particular piece and to rescue this particular Q&A from Doug from a forum that seems to be down every once in a while, here it is. It’s been 11 years but it seems like it happened yesterday:
Hi Doug, first of all, thank you very much for taking the time to interact with us fans in such a straightforward way, it’s very refreshing. I’d love to know more about “Dangerous World – A dramatic presentation of the writings of William Blake, created by Douglas Bradley and Oliver Parker. An extraordinary journey into a world which is peopled by the creations of Blake’s imagination.“
Would you like to share some recollections from it? How was this text done? How was it built, was it a organic collage of texts or did you stitch them together with more text, aiming for more than a sum of its parts? I’d love to be able to read it some day, if possible, maybe an exclusive goodie on your official website. Any plans for publishing it? I know there is a half-secret book project about the Dog Company slowly taking form, [NOTE: this later became the Memory Prophecy and Fantasy series by Phil and Sarah Stokes in 2009] I wonder if this play will make it into it.
Thanks for the attention
Re: Dangerous World
How extraordinary that you should pose this question at this point, Jose. On Tuesday last week, 28th November , I went to St James’ Church, Picadilly in London to an event organised by the Blake Society (www.blakesociety.org.uk). Its the church where, on December 11 1757, Blake was baptised and as the evenings entertainment began at 7.45 Blake was 249 years old to the minute. Next year will be interesting: 250th aniiversary of Billy’s birth, 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery, the 800th anniversary of my hometown Liverpool being granted its charter as a city by King John, the 150th anniversary of something to do with Beatrix Potter (no sniggering at the back: if there’s a finer story written than The Tailor Of Gloucester Id like to know about it) and the 20th anniversary of the release of Hellraiser.
And between at least three of those there is a direct connection.
William Blake was not the only reason I was drawn to go to church on a Tuesday evening (not, you may not be surprised to hear, a common occurrence in my life). The other was the performer on the night – Patti Smith. She was trailed as giving a lecture, but decided she wasn’t going to do that and instead she read us poems by Blake, herself and others and sang songs by Blake herself and others and wonderful it was to be there.
Now: to get to Dangerous World
My mother groand! my father wept.
Into the dangerous world I leapt
are the opening lines of the poem from which the title was taken.
In 1981, The Dog Company was preparing to take The History Of The Devil to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and, for reasons I cant now recall, we decided we should have a short late night show to put on after The Devil. Why we settled on Mr Blake, I’m not quite sure, but he was a collective favourite and for Oliver Parker’s father, the extraordinary Peter Parker, a lifelong obsession. One way or another, Olly and I found ourselves passing blissful, if sometimes argumentative days ploughing through every single word William wrote and culling all the bits we loved.
Oliver Parker should need no introduction, and even if you feel he might, he won’t. Mainstay of The Dog Company, he played one of the removal men in the first two Hellraiser movies, Peloquin in Nightbreed and has gone on to a fine career as a director (Othello with Kenneth Branagh and Laurence Fishburne; An Ideal Husband with Rupert Everett, Minnie Driver..and me and The Importance Of Being Ernest with Rupert, Colin Firth and Judi Dench. And I’m sure hes only warming up).
Somehow or other, we whittled the acres of magnificent verbiage down to an hour with a dramatic structure that had the poet being visited by his manifold visions in the last hour of his life. Ollie played Blake, the rest of the company played everyone and everything else and Clive directed. And it was really rather good, I think. I should also take this opportunity to correct myself. In my book, I think I said that every word in Dangerous World was written by Blake. Thats not strictly speaking true: it also contained the words of two contemporary artists, Sir Joshua Reynolds and Samuel Palmer.
I will search the murky corridors of Bradley Towers and if a script turns up, maybe Ill see be about getting up on the site for all to see.
To bring the story full circle, at some subsequent, post Dog Company point, Ollie and I re-jigged it and, with two new actresses, performed it in St Jamess church.
A little while ago, I did an interview for a rock magazine and as we were close by, they decided to take me across the road to William’s memorial for the photo to accompany the article. It’s the Dissenters graveyard at Bunhill Fields. The exact sight of his burial is unknown. The flowers and nutshells were already there.
In one of his notebooks, Blake wrote:
Born 28 Nov 1757 in London & has died Several times since.
While you’re here, José, I can’t let you go without sharing with you how Portuguese music has suddenly erupted in my life. It began a few years ago when I heard a song on the radio which blew me away. It was called Graça A Última Ciência and was by a band called Madredeus. I now have a bunch of their CDs and at the beginning of this month my wife and I saw them in concert at The Barbican here in London. Then a couple of years ago, while watching Later With Joolz Holland ( a late-night music TV programme here in the UK) a creature burst onto the screen who appeared to have descended from another planet. I have now collected Mariza’s (for she it was) CDs and seen her twice in concert, most recently just a couple of weeks ago at The Royal Albert Hall. She is quite sensational. Thank you, Portugal.
(Doug, 8th December 2006)[The links above were added by me, to better direct people to the songs and performers Doug is referring to.]