SIMON CALLOW, Actor and Orson Welles biographer on saving Grace Hall at The Todd School
My real interest in life is education. I want to be a teacher. All this experience I've been piling up is equipping me for that future ...I shall know how to dramatize the art of imparting knowledge.
One day I shall leave all this behind me, go back (to Todd School) and give full rein to my ideas. That's when life will really begin for me.
--Orson Welles, The Los Angeles Times, October 28, 1945
Simon Callow has undoubtedly written more about Orson Welles and the happy times he spent at Todd School in Woodstock, Illinois, then any other Welles biographer. So I'm quite pleased to announce that Mr. Callow has sent along this message of support for all the citizens and politicians of Woodstock, who are now attempting to save Grace Hall from it's slated demolition:
Todd School was one of the great pioneering American schools, and its unique qualities made Orson Welles what he was. He never forgot it, and was speaking to Roger Hill, its inspired and inspiring head teacher, almost to the day he died. It would be a sad day if Welles thought that all trace of Todd had disappeared, but it would be a sadder day for American education, of which this was one of the jewels.
As reported by Ray Kelly on the messageboard, Mr. Callow is now at work on the third volume of his trilogy about the life and work of Orson Welles. Valerie Grove, writing in The London Times last week gave us this preview of Orson Welles: Volume Three:
When Simon Callow, the actor who also writes biographies, spoke after dinner he told of the biographer's trials and tribulations: a vital tape wiped; discovering a Charles Laughton archive only after correcting his Laughton proofs; a Mrs Rogers, secretary to both Laughton and Orson Welles, who went blind before divulging the contents of her indubitably fascinating coded diary.
Callow has spent 20 years so far on Orson Welles, “an almost inexhaustible subject, complex, contradictory, a man of so many different gifts and impulses: to find the one person inside is almost impossible”. His first two volumes, 1,200 pages, have taken Welles, who died at 70, to the age of 32. With interruptions such as playing Captain Hook in pantomime this Christmas, Callow is at work on Volume Three, where (ignoring Welles's serial but “irrelevant” amorous escapades) he will reveal “the two loves that were crucial to an understanding of him”.
Finally, here is a link to a fascinating podcast (scroll down to #22) with Simon Callow on his one-man show about the Sonnets of William Shakespeare, There Reigns Love, which he performed last July at Ontario's Stratford Shakespeare Festival:
(There is also a great podcast with Christopher Plummer - #28 - on playing Julius Caesar at Stratford. )
About There Reigns Love
Devised and Performed by Simon Callow; Directed by Michael Langham
Working from Shakespeare’s text and the theories of distinguished British psychoanalyst John Padel, Mr. Callow presents the story he sees buried in the 154 poems by our greatest writer.
“Shakespeare’s Sonnets are the sphinx of English literature,” Mr. Callow says. “Every poem in the collection seems to speak of some intensely lived experience, but there is no logical emotional or intellectual coherence to them.
“John Padel’s theory remains highly controversial, but what it does to thrilling effect is to liberate the poems’ meaning, laying bare an unparalleled history of obsessive love, perhaps the greatest account in literature of the devastating course of Eros.”