BAZ BAMIGBOYE: Ousted Python Terry Gilliam finds a welcome in Bath as he holds talks about staging his show after Old Vic snub
Terry Gilliam, a founding member of Monty Python who was effectively culturally excommunicated after staff at the Old Vic theatre objected to his views on trans matters and the #Me Too movement, is in talks with a new theatre about staging his production of the Stephen Sondheim musical Into The Woods.
Gilliam’s version of the 1987 show, which reimagines a bunch of Brothers Grimm fairy tales, was to have opened at the Old Vic next April.
Gilliam, pictured in October this year, is in talks with a new theatre about staging his production of the Stephen Sondheim musical Into The Woods
It had sold a ton of tickets but last month the theatre and production company Scenario Two, which had assembled the show, ‘mutually agreed’ not to continue with it at the Waterloo venue.
Staff at the theatre point blank refused to work with Gilliam, a noted director and illustrator, even turning down his offer to design a poster.
I can reveal that Gilliam, 80, and his backers have now found a safe haven in the shape of the Theatre Royal, Bath.
Gilliam, co-director and choreographer Leah Hausman and executives from Scenario Two plan to visit the Roman spa city next week to measure up the stage as a prelude to official negotiations.
Into The Woods has been offered a four-week run there next summer, preceded by a long period to install the technically complex sets (Gilliam’s vision of the show has it set in a children’s home).
Gilliam’s version of the 1987 show, which reimagines a bunch of Brothers Grimm fairy tales, was to have opened at London’s Old Vic, pictured, next April
After the out-of-town run, it’s hoped Into The Woods, which Sondheim created with James Lapine, will transfer to London’s West End.
The producers are also said to have received offers of interest from the Haymarket Theatre in London, and from a Broadway theatre owner.
The theatre industry — all parts of the social landscape, really — seems riven with intolerance at the moment.
Some say it’s wrong that staff at theatres — and not artistic leadership — are allowed to dictate who is involved and what work is staged.
And that this is becoming a dangerous trend. ‘If we turn on everyone we disagree with, there’ll soon be no one to work with,’ one theatre chief told me.
Monty Python’s Life of Brian: Left to right, Michael Palin, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones
‘It’s becoming dangerous to open your mouth in this business. People are offended if you say “hello”.’
Gilliam has made a livelihood out of being controversial. But people close to him say that those who object to his views should perhaps read his past comments in full, and in context.
He is no stranger to censorship.
Monty Python’s controversial Life Of Brian (1979) had its funding pulled by EMI just days before production.
The movie slammed by some as ‘the most blasphemous film ever’ was saved by money from Beatle George Harrison.