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SEPTEMBER 2017
Peter Hall

Peter Hall and I were not close friends; I’m not sure that Peter did close friendship. His immense and loving extended family satis-fied that need. But we had a warm rapport from the start and that never faded. When I first met him, in 1979, I was thirty, a new kid on the block, with a few critical successes, and he, less that twenty years older than me, had already been through several major careers – brilliant youthful ventures, culminating in the English-language premières of Waiting for Godot and Anouilh’s Waltz of the Toreadors; the creation of the Royal Shakespeare Company when he was 29; a brief period as a film director, an-other, shorter, as a television presenter, and an even shorter one as Head of Productions at the Royal Opera House. By the time I met him he had survived six extraordinarily demanding years at the helm of the National, four of them actually in the great sprawling building that represented government’s final reluctant acknowledgement that theatre should be honoured with an ap-propriately bold and up-to-date space – or series of spaces: by far the biggest, most demanding, most ambitious theatrical venue in Britain. I was there to play Orlando in John Dexter’s production of As You Like It and the part of Mozart in Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, to be directed by Hall. I had never met Hall, much less been auditioned by him; he had never even seen my work. To my astonishment, he took my abilities on trust, something which I lat-er discovered was entirely characteristic of him. I only finally met him at the first read-through of Shaffer’s play, shortly after As You Like It had opened to muted rapture. His boyish good looks had for an unnaturally long time given him the appearance of a puer aeternus, a perpetual child prodigy; this had now been re-placed by something rather more overtly dignified, with beard of formal cut, like Shakespeare’s Justice, his fair round belly with good capon lined; his back, I noted, was slightly stooped. I ap-proached the read-through with anxiety – Paul Scofield, for God’s sake, was playing Salieri, and the author of the play had never seen me act either – but also with a certain suspicion. I had worked for Olivier at the National Theatre at the Old Vic, in the Box Office, and was fiercely loyal to that glorious period; Hall, I believed, was the opposite of everything that Olivier, with his gal-lantry and his glamour, leading from the front, had stood for. Moreover, he had taken over Amadeus from my champion John Dexter when Dexter and Shaffer fell out.

So I was a little taken aback to find that in person Hall was charming: lucid, twinkly, and full of commonsense. Here was no Leavisite Roundhead, no textual puritan. His very physique, which spoke of sensual pleasures indulged, was that of a Renaissance prince. He was an urbane, elegant, compelling speaker; his voice was uncommonly beguiling (with a few eccentricities of pronun-ciation: “English” was pronounced Eng-lish, rather than Inglish). I saw immediately why he was, and remained for many years, the spokesman of the British Theatre, arguing its corner with sanity and passion. He spoke wisely and well about the play, and prom-ised fun in rehearsing it. This was encouraging: As You Like It had most certainly not been fun. We read the play; I let rip, giving in totally to the extreme character Shaffer had written. After a few words of general enthusiasm at the end of the reading, Hall came up to me, put his arm over my shoulder, drew me to one side and said the dread words, “that was a very brave reading.” Then he said, “you’re quite right to have played it as you did, that’s what Peter’s written, but however extreme Mozart may be, I must al-ways believe, every second you’re on the stage, that he wrote the overture to The Marriage of Figaro.” This was a superb note; whatever merit my performance may have had is due to it. His staging of the play was craftsman like, skilful, above all highly musical; he was clear and decisive, but he always left room for the actors to flourish, preferring not to tell them where to go, finding out where they instinctively wanted to move. Quite often, he was absent from rehearsals – board meetings, or treatment for a pain-ful eye condition. He was happy to leave us alone with the assis-tant director and the author. He told me later that when, as a very young man, he had first worked at Stratford on Avon, he was giv-en Cymbeline to direct, with Peggy Ashcroft in the leading role. He had worked out carefully what he wanted to do. “Peggy,” he said, “move left here, please.” “No,” she said. “No?” “No, it’s not right. I can’t feel it.” “Well show me what you’d like to do.” She did, and he saw that it was better than what he had planned, and he never again worked out the moves of a production in advance. This had its pluses and its minuses. Sometimes his productions could be a little sleepy, a little lacking in the well-drilled sort of élan vital that was so typical of Dexter, say, or Zeffirelli. But in Amadeus, he was wonderful at passing quietly among the actors and freeing them up; he was often unexpectedly personal. He dis-closed one day that he was an insomniac; like his foe Margaret Thatcher, he could manage on three or four hours a night. He passed large stretches of the night devouring books. He was astonishingly well read. He read just as he ate, with a sensualist’s connoisseurship. Amadeus, I’m inclined to think, was the last and most frankly voluptuous of a long line of luscious Peter Hall pro-ductions; from his fifties, his productions became much more aus-tere, functional, almost. Was that because of something else he disclosed in rehearsal: the fact that he thought of his own death constantly? He certainly made the masked stranger’s visits to Mo-zart on his deathbed in Amadeus quite terrifying.

From the first preview, Amadeus was a knockout. There were few adjustments made during the preview period. A couple of cuts, a little re-blocking. It was unstoppable: a love affair between the public and Scofield, realising beyond Shaffer’s dreams every one of his dazzling theatrical gestures. Hall never saw the show after the first performance. Even though his office at the top of the building was only minutes away from a pass door at the back of the upper circle, he never made that short journey. I think he thought the show was on its way, it didn’t need him anymore, it was ours now. He had limitless faith in his actors; they would get on with it. He didn’t even see the show the night Margaret Thatcher came. “Mozart wasn’t like that,” she told Peter, after-wards. “With respect, Prime Minister, he was.” “I don’t think you heard me,” she said. “He wasn’t like that.” Though I stayed at the National another eighteen months after Amadeus opened, I could so easily have lost touch with him. The building was so vast, the workforce so enormous. But then, one afternoon, I performed all of Shakespeare’s Sonnets in the Olivier Theatre, and he came to see it. Afterwards, he said: “You’re a very good verse speaker, but you could be a great one. We should spend a little time together.” And we did, and his coaching was wonderful: he had not yet en-tirely espoused the doctrinaire views that strait-jacketed his later Shakespeare productions. Everything he told me was about the natural stress of the line: “you have a tendency,” he said, “to fall in love with the wrong word.” I did; he was absolutely right. I marvel today that he was able and willing to give that time to an ignorant young actor. His workload was absurdly heavy – pro-ductions, board meetings, stormy associate director meetings, complex negotiations with government and funding bodies – to say nothing of the painful weekly laser treatments on his eyes. Perhaps he longed to escape from all of that. Whatever, even after the verse classes had come to an end, I found myself wandering up to his office from time to time, where, under a sign saying “God send me good actors, good writers, good directors, and nev-er, ever give me a theatre,” we would talk. After a little while, a good bottle of claret would be produced from the drawer of his desk, and he would talk – about himself, mostly. It was clear that he had very little faith in his gifts as a director, while being keenly aware of what a brilliant manager he was. He viewed this imbal-ance with resigned amusement, but one day he told me a story that suggested it ran much deeper. He and Peter Brook were near-contemporaries. Hall was acutely aware of Brook’s confidence and originality. Brook rather enjoyed this, and often taunted Hall by recounting his visits to the great sage Edward Gordon Craig. Hall adored Craig’s writings and designs, and begged Brook to take him with him. “Not yet,” Brook would say. “He’ll say when he’s ready.” One day, he announced: “Craig’s ready.” They booked their tickets on the Calais packet, heading for Craig’s home in Vence. On the gangplank, just before the boat was due to leave Dover, Hall said to Brook: “I can’t do it. I know he’ll see through me.” And he fled back to London. This was quite some- thing for the unquestioned leader of the British theatre to confide in a 30-year-old actor. Of course, it was a narrative he had re-fined, explaining his own life to himself, but it seemed to me highly plausible that his Imperial urges, his instinctive project of creating large structures around himself, was to secure himself against being seen through, being found out.

Which was absurd. He had already achieved so very much. In do-ing so, he afforded countless opportunities to directors, writers, actors, designers, choreographers. The very National Theatre in which we sat was his monument. Getting into the new building had been hell, with delayed building works and recalcitrant un-ions; he had fought heroically against both delays and strikes, making speeches, pulling strings politically, staging shows on the terraces of the new theatre in broad daylight when he was unable to get into the theatres. By the time I arrived, everything was up and running, the theatre’s output was enormous: all three audito-ria were filled with new plays and classics, each theatre under a different director and there was a huge standing company of ac-tors, just as the founding fathers of the National Theatre, back in the 1890’s, had imagined – a troupe, an ensemble of actors work-ing together. It was a job that required the special executive gifts that Hall possessed in such striking degree. Olivier, even at his height, and with all his experience as an actor-manager, could never have done it. But having established the theatre, Hall started to look around for new worlds to conquer. The single most re-markable thing that he did during my time at the National was the Oresteia, in which, in combination with the composer Harri-son Birtwistle, the translator Tony Harrison, the designer Jocelyn Herbert, and a group of remarkable actors, he explored to electri-fying and primal effect the use of mask on a scale that had never previously been attempted in Britain. That, along with The Wars of the Roses in the early sixties at the RSC, is, I believe his greatest achievement, the work of a true visionary. But Peter, I think, had difficulty believing in himself as such. Increasingly, he focussed on opera, as the combination of all the elements: the work he did in the 1980’s at Glyndebourne was radical in its lack of decora-tion, in its insistence on the dramatic essence of the work. Music was at the core of his life. He was a good pianist; I vividly recall seeing him woo Maria Ewing, in Peter Shaffer’s apartment in New York, as they played Schubert duos together. Not much later, she became his third wife.

I remember, too, the day he rushed, goggle-eyed, into the canteen at the National Theatre which was empty apart from me and said, “I have to tell someone: I’ve just got off the phone to Georg Solti, who’s asked me to direct the Ring at Bayreuth. And I know exactly how to do it: Disneyland!” He all but hugged himself, like a kid at Christmas. Alas, it didn’t work out well, but that moment of joy at the prospect of great work in store was deeply touching. He had found a new world to conquer. His productivity was astounding, characteristic of someone who needs constant stimulus. Some of it was routine, but lightning struck with remarkable frequency: the plays of Oscar Wilde, which Peter insisted on taking as seri-ously as George Bernard Shaw had, seeing them as powerful cri-tiques of society; the fierce 50th anniversary Godot at the Old Vic; a lewd and joyous Lysistrata; a dazzling Amy’s View with Felicity Kendal. Increasingly, his body took the toll of what he had de-manded of it. He carried on, determinedly, with the aid of assis-tants. It was duly announced that he would be directing Twelfth Night at the National, an 80th birthday present from the theatre he created. He asked me to play Toby Belch – “it’s the biggest part in the play, you know,” he said to me, redundantly – and of course I accepted, though with a little trepidation because I knew from oc-casional social encounters that the fabric of his mind was starting to fray; this was shockingly confirmed at a great 80th birthday bash before rehearsals started, when after a series of speeches in his honour, he was called on to speak, and he found himself una-ble to. The great spokesman, the silver-tongued ambassador of the theatre, fell silent, asking instead for questions from the floor which he answered awkwardly, until the music director crashed in with Happy Birthday to You. Rehearsals of the play of which he had long ago directed two golden productions, one just before and one just after the creation of the RSC, were inevitably difficult, but there were frequent flashes of the old Peter Hall. “Don’t fall in love with the language too much,” he said to me one day, unerr-ingly accurately; another day he told me he’d had a dream about doing the play with Patrick Wymark as his Belch, and Wymark had said something, and Hall – in the dream – had said, ‘Go away, I’ve got Simon Callow for the part’.” It was funny and it was flat-tering, and I was never quite sure whether he’d really had that dream or whether it was made up to encourage me, which would have been very PH.

*

I once played him in a radio play by Mark Lawson concerning the controversy over Howard Brenton’s play The Romans in Britain. It was a very fine hour for Hall, in which he publicly defended the theatre’s right to deal directly with real issues, to engender shock-ing imagery, and to question the status quo. Lawson had written a very powerful speech for Peter, rallying the troops. He perfectly caught his cadences, eloquent and lucid, passionate and pointed. My fellow actors in the studio – Daniel Evans, Ron Cook, Greg Hicks among them – and I were all suddenly very moved by what this man was, what he stood for: a champion, an enabler, an elu-cidator, an explorer, an evangelist for what is unique about the theatre. He was formidable without being in the least forbidding; shrewd – cunning, even – in the pursuit of his goals; a sensualist and a lover; human, all too human. A fighter. Above all a leader, our great lost leader.

AUGUST 2017
The Rebel Starring Simon Callow to Return For Series 2

The Rebel, the sitcom starring Simon Callow as a hellraising pensioner, is to return to Gold for a second series.

Pre-production work is now underway on six new half hour episodes, with filming set to take place in Brighton.

The Rebel, which launched as a three-part series in July 2016, is based on Andrew Birch's cartoon strip in The Oldie magazine.

The TV version stars Simon Callow as the irascible Henry Palmer, a former mod who sees no reason to stop living his life by his own rules now he's in his seventies. Sticking two fingers up to authority, society and the vagaries of modern life, and of the firm belief there's no problem that can't be solved by a great tune and a quick bit of vandalism, Henry Palmer and his friends get into all kinds of misadventures in the episodes.

The Rebel Series 2 will be shown on Gold later this year.

Read more here

AUGUST 2017
BBC Arts: Simon At The Edinburgh Festival

Simon discussing his life and career at Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Available to download until 18 September 2017

Download here

JUNE 2017
Britain's Great Gay Buildings

Coming up:

Simon interviews Oscar Wilde’s grandson Merlin Holland on Britain’s Great Gay Buildings

Channel Four

Saturday 24th June at 8pm.

FEBRUARY 2017
Simon Directs All-Star Philanthropist Cast

Simon will direct a new production of Oscar® winner Christopher Hampton’s most celebrated play, The Philanthropist, at the Trafalgar Studios, starring Matt Berry, Simon Bird, Lily Cole, Charlotte Ritchie and Tom Rosenthal.

The play has been delighting audiences since its premiere at the Royal Court in 1970. A biting ‘bourgeois comedy’ and a fiendishly clever inversion of Moliere’s ‘The Misanthrope’, Simon’s new production boasts some of today’s most exciting young stage and screen actors.

Set in a fictitious English University town, strongly evoking Oxford or Cambridge, the play follows 24 hours in the lives of a group of young academics. 

Previews from 3 April 2017

20 April 2017 - 22 July 2017

Trafalgar Studios 1

Read more here

FEBRUARY 2017
Simon Callow Reads Dante's Inferno

On the occasion of the exhibition Robert Rauschenberg, Simon gives a public reading of excerpts from Inferno, the first part of Dante Alighieri’s 14th century epic poem The Divine Comedy.

Widely considered one of the greatest works of literature, Inferno tells of Dante’s journey through the nine circles of Hell guided by the ancient Roman poet Virgil. He witnesses a terrifying catalogue of punishments, an education that exposes him to the consequences of turning away from God’s grace.

This unique event sees Simon take to the stage to tell this dramatic story through selected readings alongside projections of Rauschenberg’s pioneering illustrations.

10 February 2017 at 18.30-20.00

Tate Modern

Read more here

OCTOBER 2016
A Christmas Carol With Simon Callow

Simon is deeply happy to be bringing Dickens - his compassionate heart and his wild imagination  - to London again this Christmas 

Following sell-out seasons in 2011/12 and critical and audience acclaim, Simon Callow returns in this much-lauded production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, playing at the Arts Theatre for a strictly limited season from 8 December.

Based on Dickens’ own performance adaptation, Simon Callow and director-designer Tom Cairns have created a one-man theatrical extravaganza of festive story-telling that is both heart-warming and deeply moving. A Christmas must see for 8-88 year olds!

8 December - 7 January

Arts Theatre

Read more here

 

OCTOBER 2016
Simon Callow To Make "The Mother Of All Speeches" At 2016 Soundfestival

Simon Callow, known to millions as Gareth in Four Weddings and Funeral, is to appear at the 2016 soundfestival. Callow will perform Der Tribun (The Tribune or the Mother of all Speeches), a caricature of totalitarianism by the leading 20th century composer Mauricio Kagel, on Saturday 29 October at ACT Aberdeen.

Saturday 29 October 2016 at 8pm

ACT Aberdeen

Read more here

SEPTEMBER 2016
Simon Completes Rochdale's Literature Fest Line-up

At the festival Simon will be talking about his life on screen and stage, as well as reading excerpts from his latest book, 'One-Man Band', the third volume of his new biography of cinema giant Orson Welles

Friday 21 October 2016, 8-9 pm

Number One Riverside

Read more here

JULY 2016
Simon Stars In New TV Show The Rebel

Simon stars in The Rebel as the near 70-year-old Henry Palmer who looks like a respectable upstanding Brighton resident but underneath it all he's not. For the past 50 years he has been putting his youthful past behind him; or perhaps more accurately, brushing it under the floral patterned carpet!

Starts Wednesday 20th July at 10pm

Read more here

Catch up on Now TV here

APRIL 2016
Simon Reads Seamus Heaney's Aeneid Book VI

Simon Callow presents Seamus Heaney's Aeneid Book VI, introduced by Catherine Heaney, and accompanied by uillean piper David Power.

Friday 10th June 2105.

Borris House Hennessy Granary Stage.

Read more here

April 2016
Orson Welles: One Man Band ,Borris, Ireland

Simon Callow's three-volume biography of Orson Welles summarised in one delightful hour.

Friday 10th June 2105.

Borris House Hennessy Granary Stage.

Read more here

APRIL 2016
Sunday Brunch

Simon will be joining Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer on Sunday Brunch this weekend. Tune in on Sunday at 9:30AM on Channel 4

JANUARY 2016
Touring my Book. Orson Welles: One-Man Band

“I  love touring plays, but every bit as much as  that, I love talking about my books in cities and towns across the country. I’ve found that people are fantastically warm and keenly interested: as in the theatre, each talk is entirely different as people react differently to the - though i say it myself  - remarkable story I’m telling.  Since childhood, I’ve been addicted to  biography: I’m fascinated by my fellow human beings and long to know what makes them what they are. Orson Welles was one of the most completely, improbably, extravagant human beings who ever lived. I’ve tried to make the reader feel as if they’d met him. On the reading tour I can convey that even more vividly, and look forward to sharing what I know about Welles with people across the country this Spring - 27 one night gigs. Coming soon to a venue near you. Warm regards Simon Callow" 

Simon Callow    One Man Band  tour   20/22/15

MARCH 

7)   SOUTHEND PALACE

8)   WATFORD COLOSSEUM 

9)   GLIVE GUILDFORD

10)  HARLEQUIN THEATRE  REDHILL

11)  CHEQUER MEAD ARTS CENTRE  E GRINSTEAD

12)  WYLLYOTTS CENTRE POTTERS BAR

14)  STURMINSTER NEWTON EXCHANGE

15)  ELGIVA THEATRE   CHESHAM

16)  HARLINGTON  CENTRE  FLEET

17)  WINCHESTER THEATRE ROYAL

18)  SHERMAN  THEATRE  CARDIFF

19)  LUDLOW ASSEMBLY ROOMS

21)  NORWICH PLAYHOUSE

22)  POOLE  LIGHTHOUSE

23)  CREWE LYCEUM

24)  MERCURY THEATRE COLCHESTER

29)  BRINDLEY  ARTS CENTRE RUNCORN

30)  FLORAL PAVILION   WIRRAL

31)  BURNLEY MECHANICS

APRIL

1)   CAST THEATRE  DONCASTER

2)   MIDDLESBROUGH  THEATRE

4)   GALA THEATRE DURHAM

5)   CITY VARIETIES MUSIC HALL, LEEDS 

6)   SAGE  GATESHEAD

7)   CRUCIBLE SHEFFIELD

8)   LINCOLN DRILL HALL

9)   FARNHAM MALTINGS

APRIL 2016
Miami Herald

Remembering the work of a difficult genius

Read more here

MARCH 2015
REVIEW: Simon Callow, One Man Band, Lighthouse, Poole

Really enjoying my tour. Thanks to those who have made it out so far and to those who haven't... I look forward to seeing you soon. 

Here's a review from the Bouremouth Echo:

Read more here

FEBRUARY 2016
The One Show

Simon will be presenting a small film about the clown service in Dalton on The One Show on Wednesday the 10th February 2016. 

JANUARY 2016
Brian Pern: 45 Years of Prog and Roll - BBC

Brian Pern, Brian Pern: 45 Years of Prog and Roll, Episode 1 Link Here

JANUARY 2016
Wilde's Woman

Over a century on, Oscar Wilde continues to hypnotise us. The work, though distinctly uneven, is filled with intellectual provocation and delicious fantasy and studded with scintillants, but it is the life – those action-packed 46 years with their almost Greek trajectory of catastrophe, rapid fall and pitiful resolution: hamartia, peripeteia and catharsis – which has marked him out as one of the great  symbolic figures of Western civilisation. We keep coming back to him, trying to make sense of his actions. Was he simply a victim of society? Were there inherent flaws in him which governed, or failed to govern, his actions? What sort of man, indeed, was he? In person, he beguiled many of his contemporaries, but his behaviour was by no means always admirable; often it is barely intelligible. He remains a mystery, his motives as puzzling as Hamlet’s; this, of course, only increases our fascination for him. Every aspect of his life has been pored over and over in a unending procession of books – his childhood, his family, his celebrity, his sex life, his radicalism, his formidable intellectual underpinnings, his Irishness, his illnesses, his death, all comprehensively covered. And still the puzzle remains.

 

Eleanor Fitzsimons is to be congratulated on finding a new and eminently profitable angle from which to approach him: the women who were so uncommonly significant in his life. His mother, first, of course,  his sister Isola whose death when still a  child devastated him, Lily Langtry, whose troubadour he affected to be, his poor utterly bewildered wife Constance, a clutch of influential lady novelists, a handful of leading ladies who appeared or, quite often, didn’t appear in his plays, a couple of stalwart middle-aged friends – Adela Schuster and the woman he dubbed “the Sphinx,” Ada Leverson – and sundry caring supporters, mostly Frenchwomen, at the end. There is no question that Wilde had a deep empathy for women. It is tempting to attribute this to his essential gayness, though he had experienced genuine heterosexual desire (as opposed to the extravagant poses of his relationship to the so-called Professional Beauties like Langtry), not least, of course, for Constance, with  whom, initially at least,  he attained something very close to rapture. Bosie Douglas, that poisonous, mendacious  nightmare, said at least one true thing in his life when he noted that women loved him because “although he was expected to talk brilliantly, he really did a great deal of listening.” 

 

And when, having failed to secure employment as an Inspector of Schools (a possibility which opens up startling vistas of educational reform), he became the editor of what he described as “a most trivial, vulgar production”, called The Lady’s World, he transformed it, under the new name of The Woman’s World,  into a vigorous platform for the latest thinking on the position of women –  even its stance on fashion was radical, seeking to liberate women from  the tyranny of corset and bustle. “From the Sixteenth Century to our own,” wrote Wilde, “there is hardly any form of torture that has not been inflicted on girls and been endured by women, in obedience to the dictates of an unreasonable and  monstrous fashion.” This was, interestingly enough, a cause that usually self-effacing Constance Wilde had eloquently championed in a lecture with the provocative title “Clothed in Our Right Minds.” But Wilde’s feminism was nothing to do with his wife’s views: like so very much else in his life, it derived directly from his mother.

 

The formidable Lady Wilde, née Jane Elgee, had, under the inspirational sobriquet of Speranza, not only written the fiery verse and essays which had made her a heroine of the Nationalist cause in Ireland, but also, no less  influentially, penned stirring polemics  on the subject of women’s rights. She was no straightforward gender egalitarian, however: “Nothing interests me beyond the desire to make him happy,” she had written on marrying the brilliant and alarming Sir William Wilde. “For this I could kill myself.” For her, women were still very much defined in relation to men – not an inferior relationship, she insisted, but one essentially of support and adornment, especially those who married geniuses. Her husband, she had no doubt, was a genius, and so, equally certainly, was her son.  She and Constance, she believed, were both “the daughters of men who wed with the sons of gods.” And this meant they had to pay attention to their appearance: “Humanity is distinguished from apes by two things: laughter and dress,” she wrote. “Nothing generates a morbid discontent like sombre, monotonous, ineffective costume.”

 

She attired herself in an astonishing array of fancy dress, most frequently appearing, in her younger years, as a Druidess; as time and grief – not least her husband’s trial for rape – and poverty took their toll, she wore black and held court, veiled, in rooms from which every glimmer of daylight had been banished. Guests stumbled about in the semi-dark, but they still flocked to her At Homes, mesmerised by her charisma and enchanted by the conversation. “Paradox is the very essence of social wit and brilliancy,” she decreed, as if prescribing Oscar’s modus operandi.  “The unexpected, the strange combination of opposites; the daring subversion of some ancient platitude are all keen social weapons.” This, she understood, was a dangerous ploy, but she had the antidote: “only assured celebrity makes society pardon originality.” It was not, in the end, protection enough; Wilde had perhaps taken his mother’s lessons too much to heart.

 

“Fathers should be neither seen nor heard,” Wilde wrote in An Ideal Husband. “Mothers are different. Mothers are darlings.” Wilde’s love of his mother, and his pride in her, was unquestionable; but it didn’t stop him from frittering away vast sums of money on Alfred Douglas in exotic watering-holes while Jane lay sick and impoverished in her dingy Paddington apartment, without, as she said, a shilling in the world.  But he was no doubt simply fulfilling the principles she had laid down before he was born” “the best chance, perhaps, of domestic felicity is when all the family are bohemians, and all clever, and all enjoy thoroughly the erratic, impulsive, reckless life of work and glory, indifferent to everything save the intense moments of popular applause.” Jane Wilde utterly dominates Fitzsimons’ book, and it is in these pages that it lights up, sometimes with a terrible sulphurous glow. “If you stay, even if you go to prison, you will always be my son; it will make no difference to my affection,” she told him in the brief moment when he could have fled the country after the collapse of his second trial. “But if you go, I will never speak to you again.” Yeats believed that it was this encounteD that kept him in the country and made jail, and the destruction of his health and his talent,  inevitable.

 

The book is a duller thing when Jane is not in it. From time to time Fitzsimons lights on extraordinary figures – Ouida and  Marie Corelli, for example –  whose work had a direct influence on Wilde; elsewhere, however, there is an excess of rather plodding résumé of lives that only tangentially illuminate him (four pages on the wives of his brother Willie). Even from these peripheral figures, however, Wilde  provoked exceptionally vivid responses. The actress Elizabeth Robins, for example, with whom he narrowly failed to work, remarked that it was “as if he had been stuffed with spice and caviar. Poke him and he would bleed absinthe and clotted truffles.” But his relationship with these women –   except for Robert Sherard’s remarkable observation that Wilde had in some sense modelled himself on the great French actress Sarah Bernhardt – yields little that is new.  It is still an affecting tale. The story of Constance Wilde, crushed between her husband’s appetites and his ambition, runs through the book like a heart-breaking descant sounded on a  particularly plangent oboe: “when I have you for my husband,” she wrote during their courtship, “I will hold you fast with chains of love & devotion, so that you shall never leave me, or love anyone so long as I can love & comfort.” Even after everything she had endured at his hands – the end of intimacy, abandonment, humiliation, financial ruin – and crippled by advancing multiple sclerosis she wrote “I think that we women are meant for comforters, and I believe no one can really take my place now, or help him as I can.” The persistence of love in the face of his incorrigibly rash and selfish behaviour is a tribute to an essentially delightful quality in him. As  Edith Cooper, one of the two gay women, aunt and niece, who made up the novelist ‘Michael Field’, wrote after it was all over, “now I can think of nothing but the quality that was in him – the pleasurableness.”

JANUARY 2016
NMP Live

NMP Live Meets Simon Callow - Actor, Writer and Director

See video here

DECEMBER 2015
Observer Books of the Year, by Robert McCrum

Thatcher aside, the year’s most entertaining biography is Orson Welles: One-Man Band the third and probably final volume in Simon Callow’s study. This wonderfully vivid account of Welles’s tireless exploits in theatre, radio, film, television and even ballet is compulsive reading. Only an actor, director and writer as gifted and ebullient as Callow could have found the nerve to do this. Callow becomes Welles and, strangely, Welles almost becomes Callow. The only mystery is why, in Welles’s centenary year, his publishers waited until the end of 2015 to release such a tour de force.

DECEMBER 2015
The Guardian - Simon on: Why Orson Welles lived a life like no other

I understood from the beginning, though I had just one medium-sized, single-volume biography of Charles Laughton under my belt,  that any account of Orson Welles would be big. His life was so complex, his achievements so multifarious, his personality so unfathomable, the myths so pervasive, that I was sure that  if I was to understand him at all I would have to cast my net very wide, at the same time as going deep down under the surface; one volume, I knew, could never do him justice. 

Read more here

NOVEMBER 2015
Simon Callow on Orson Welles - Belfast

Sunday 15th November 2015

15:00 - Queens Film Theatre, Belfast 

In One-Man Band, the third volume in his epic survey of Orson Welles' life and work, Simon Callow again probes in comprehensive and penetrating detail into one of the most complex artists of the twentieth century, looking closely at the triumphs and failures of an ambitious one-man assault on one medium after another - theatre, radio, film, television - even, at one point, ballet - in each of which his radical and original approach opened up new directions and hitherto unglimpsed possibilities.

Click here for more information and how to purchase tickets

NOVEMBER 2015
New Statesman

Orson Welles: One-Man Band by Simon Callow shows how Welles was an often chaotic yet masterful film-maker in his middle age.

Read more here

NOVEMBER 2015
The Independant

Orson Welles: One Man Band by Simon Callow, book review

Read more here

NOVEMBER 2015
The Times

Book of the week: Orson Welles: One-Man Band by Simon Callow

Read more here

NOVEMBER 2015
Daily Mail

Simon Callow has spent the past 25 years reliving the life of Orson Welles, his idol and inspiration. It has been a full-time occupation: this is his third substantial volume recording it.

Read more here

NOVEMBER 2015
The Sunday Times

Orson Welles: One Man Band by Simon Callow

Read more here

NOVEMBER 2015
Simon Callow on Orson Welles - Dublin

Saturday 14th November 2015

19:30 - Venue: dlr LexIcon Library, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin

In this, the third volume in his epic survey of Orson Welles’ life and work, Simon Callow again probes in comprehensive and penetrating detail into one of the most complex artists of the twentieth century, looking closely at the triumphs and failures of an ambitious one-man assault on one medium after another – theatre, radio, film, television – even, at one point, ballet – in each of which his radical and original approach opened up new directions and innovative possibilities.

Click here for more information and how to purchase tickets

NOVEMBER 2015
The Seven O'Clock Show

Friday 13th November 2015

Simon is due to appear on the Seven O’Clock Show in Dublin at 18:30

Click here for more information

NOVEMBER 2015
F is for Fake - Cork Film Festival

Friday 13th November 2015

Cork Film Festival - 11:30

Simon Callow  will attend the 60th Cork Film Festival which opens Friday night and runs for 10 days. 

Simon is also a biographer of legendary American director Orson Welles and will introduce a screening of Welles’s last major film, F for Fake.

Click here for more information

NOVEMBER 2015
Today Show

Thursday 12th November 2015

Simon will appear on Ireland's most watched Daytime show at 16:35

Click here for more information

NOVEMBER 2015
Screening of Orson Welles's F for Fake at Cork Film Festival

Simon Callow to introduce last significant work from auteur:

Click here for more information

SEPTEMBER 2015
Simon's Musical Autumn

Simon’s musical autumn - some concerts coming up.

 

October 23rd 2015 

Peter & the Wolf  Two Moors Festival Exeter

Click here for more information

 

October 25th 2015 

Paddington Bear  City of London Sinfonia Warwick 12

Click here for more information 

 

October 28th 2015 

Paddington Bear City of London Sinfonia Basingstoke 12

Click here for more information 

 

October 28th 2015 

Paddington Bear City of London Sinfonia Basingstoke 3 pm

Click here for more information 

 

October 29th 2015

Oxford Lieder Festival 6.30 pm A Shropshire Lad

Click here for more information 

 

October 31st 2015

Leeds Town Hall –  Flanders Symphony Orchestra Elgar Blackford Debussy

Click here for more information

 

November 1st 2015 

Paddington Bear   City of London Sinfonia Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden 1 pm

Click here for more information 

 

November 1st  2015

Paddington Bear   City of London Sinfonia  Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden 4 pm

Click here for more information 

 

November 3rd 2015

Flanders Symphony Orchestra The Hexagon, Queens Walk, Reading - Elgar Debussy

Click here for more information

 

November 4th 2015 

Flanders Symphony Orchestra Cadogan Hall London Elgar Blackford Debussy

Click here for more information 

SEPTEMBER 2015
Then Viceroy's House

Simon is off to India to play Sir Cyril Radcliffe in Then Viceroy’s House, directed by Gurinder Chabda.

Click here for more information

SEPTEMBER 2015
Alice in Wonderland

See Simon appear in Alice in Wonderland with Cellophony at King’s Place.

Click here for more information 

SEPTEMBER 2015
Galavant

Simon's in Bristol to play Edwin the Magnificent in Galavant.

Click here for more information 

SEPTEMBER 2015
Mindthorn

Simon plays himself in the film Mindthorn, directed by Sean Foley. 

Click here for more information 

SEPTEMBER 2015
The Life of Rock with Brian Pern

Simon recently filmed in The Life of Brian Pern, playing Bennett St Michael, the member of Thotch they got rid of early on, but who has dreams of a comeback.

Click here for more information

AUGUST 2015
Dalston Revolution

A night of music, poetry and theatre... 

Featuring:
Allyson Ava Brown
Simon Callow
Maddy Hill
Rio Kai
Martina Laird
Anoushka Lucas
Ako Mitchell
Ann Mitchell
Marie Murphy
Che Walker
Roy Williams

Find out more here

AUGUST 2015
Machynlleth Festival

Simon is doing a concert with the pianist Lucy Parham at the Machynlleth Festival in Wales on August 28th, 2015. 

Click here for more information and how to purchase tickets.

JULY 2015
Kingston University Honorary Degree

Simon Callow - one of Britain's most respected stage and screen stars - has been named an Honorary Doctor of Letters by Kingston University. As well as being known to millions for his acting roles in such hit films as ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral, ‘Shakespeare in Love' and ‘Room with a View' and in television shows such as ‘Doctor Who', Mr Callow is a critically acclaimed writer and director. He has been honoured for his contribution to theatre and film practice and research and also to literary biography.

Read more here

June 2015
Yvonne Callow

Simon's mother Yvonne passed away on April 9th this year. The funeral was held on June 11th at Sacred Heart Church, Quex Road, in Kilburn

Here is Simon's eulogy:

Yvonne Marie Guise was born an astonishing 96 years ago, in 1919, at the end of the First World War, just before the signing of the Treaty Of Versailles, which contained within it, as we now know, the seeds of the Second World War. So she grew up and came to womanhood in those terrible times which saw the Great Crash and the rise of the European dictators. She and her older brother Tony and her younger sister Marie, who all might have expected a decent education, were each of them at work by the age of 16, Marie at 15. Their father Jules, who was Danish, an engineer and an inventor, never worked at all during the 1930’s, at the end of which, at the age of 42, he suddenly died. Their mother, Vera, who was of German stock, had been a singer – she sang at the Royal Albert Hall at the official celebrations for the end of World War I – was, till they went to work, the family’s only breadwinner – genteelly brought up, she cooked and scrubbed in underground kitchens, she sold watches across the country,  she had a disastrous go at running a bed and breakfast establishment.

The girls, my mother and my aunt, became typists, working in a secretarial agency in Victoria, where they were brusquely addressed by their surnames and worked long and arduous hours. Both of them were clever young women – they attended the London Oratory Grammar School, which I went to 30 years later – but neither had the education they longed for. They dreamed of other lives – my mother wanted to be a journalist – but economic reality kept them down. And then, when my mother was twenty, the Second World war broke out and that defined their lives not only for the next six years, but  for ever more. Technically, they were Danish, like their father, though neither spoke the language, and  their passports were stamped Alien; for a while they were limited in what they could do, though both eventually became fire-fighters during the Blitz; their brother Tony  was called up and died in the last days of hostilities. But the war with its constant threat of instant death was a time to seize  life with both hands, and Yvonne plunged into the hectic round of parties and pleasure that her mother laid on for the boys on leave. Yvonne was attractive and witty, but very much, even at that young age, her own woman; she kept the boys at arm’s length, mercilessly mocking and teasing them.

Then, in 1944, rather against her better judgement, she married her brother’s best friend, my father, Neil Callow, a lively, sensuous, gregarious man, who was posted to Africa for the North Africa landings. While there, he fell in love with Africa, and at the end of the war she joined him there, in Freetown in Sierra Leone, and they led the unimaginably exotic lives of colonial expats – a life of comfort, of servants, of  free-flowing booze and plentiful food – until Yvonne became pregnant for the first time and returned to Austerity Britain, severely rationed and devastated by 6 gruelling years of war. Neil joined her for the birth of their daughter, Gabrielle, who was turned out to have a rare blood disease which led to her early death at 18 months old, a tragedy they overcame by having a second child as soon as possible, which was me. She was 30. Again, Neil returned to England  for the birth, but the lure of Africa and the possibility of earning good money there was too strong for him to resist and he went back. That was the end of her marriage, though she didn’t know it till he failed to return at end of his 18 months’ tour.

Her life and in some ways her personality changed as a result of that shocking rupture and the loss of a man she had come to love. Her Catholicism, always strong, became ever more deeply entrenched; she refused to entertain the idea of divorce and resigned herself to being single till the day either he or she died. Always pleasantly rounded, she now went on a severe diet which she then maintained for the rest of her life, and single-mindedly addressed the question of bringing up her child. First of all, she had to try to make ends meet. She was only fitfully supported by my father, but she successfully pursued a career as a secretary, making sure that I was fed and clothed and properly educated: she had very clear ideas about how to do things, guided by the egregious Dr Benjamin Spock and his  theories of child-raising: I was not to be indulged in any way, but was to be offered constant mental stimulation – we went on a ceaseless round of visits to museums, galleries, events – she took me down to Chartwell to catch a glimpse of the ancient Churchill, she arranged trips to National Trust properties. If we saw a film, it an improving one, like Walt Disney’s The Vanishing Prairie.  I was not an easy child to handle – emotional, exhibitionistic, uncontrollably energetic – but she stuck to her programme for me. Discipline was fierce – she was not above using a much-feared hairbrush for severe spankings – but there were visits to the cinema and very occasionally to the theatre by way of compensation. Above all she instilled in me the idea of achievement: no day should pass without something to show for it – something learned, something made, something mastered.

She took a job as a school secretary in a wildly eccentric private school in Berkshire largely because my education would be thrown in as part  payment for her services. For me it was a life-changing two years of country-living and for her an introduction to Spanish culture (the headmaster was a  passionate Hispanophile, having fought in the Spanish Civil War – on the side of the Fascists) and it led her to teach herself Spanish, toiling night after night over her Assimil textbooks and the accompanying gramophone records. When I was seven, she took herself off to Madrid  to become governess to a Spanish family; I stayed, very happily, with my rather indulgent grandmothers, for the few months she was away. When she came back, earlier than expected, we moved back to South London; she found a job working at the Nigerian embassy where she was the London  secretary of Chief Anthony Enahoro; this meant that I was kitted out with a variety of African robes and embroidered caps and the bedsit in Streatham was draped with exotic blankets and ivory carvings.

And then, when I was 9, and she was 39, astonishingly, my father got in touch to suggest that he and Yvonne should resume their married life – she and I should join him in Central Africa where he now lived. As a devout Catholic, believing that he was still her husband, though they had not seen each other for 5 years, she complied and we took the three-day flight to Kenya, where he picked us up and drove us all the way down to the tiny town of Fort Jameson in what was then Northern Rhodesia.

It was a disaster from the beginning. My father clearly had no intention of resuming his marriage: he was trying to get her to desert him, which eventually she did. With astonishing strength of  mind and and resourcefulness, she overcame the anxiety of being effectively stranded in the middle of that huge continent, and moved us to the capital, Lusaka, where she worked as a high-flying government secretary. And still she was determined that I should be mentally and imaginatively stimulated. We went off on Safari; we took trips to nearby beauty spots; she arranged for me to go up in a bi-plane with a colleague of hers, terrifying but tremendous. She bought a car and learned to drive. Or rather, she passed her driving test, having broken down in tears when she was failed, and so began a reign of terror for local drivers, as she drive into ditches and  knocked down fences. I meanwhile was packed off to school in South Africa; my father’s alimony was always  intermittent and she soon had to withdraw me, as I had been withdrawn from various schools over the years; but eventually, triumphantly, she engineered our return to England in 1962, three years after we had left it.

Back to South London we went. She secured a place for me at the London Oratory Grammar School, by dint of constant pleading, and did everything she could to focus my mind on the studies which would lead to my getting a  place at university, her single goal for me. She carried on with her secretarial career: when she worked for a shirt company, I learned the pleasures of hand-made shirts; and when she went to work for Freemans mail order, all sorts of other bonuses came my way. But these were very difficult years for us: a constant struggle with her trying to assert her authority and me become more and more wilful, less and less prepared to accept the limitations she tried to place on me.    

She was very much one her own. She had cool feelings towards her family, and was not a woman who made friends. She would go on adventurous trips with the Church, but she kept herself to herself; as long as my father was alive, she never had a relationship with another  man, and by the time he died, in 1971, it was too late. Nor would she have wanted it: her independence was the thing she prized above all else. She took herself off to concerts, to galleries, to exhibitions; she avidly watched the television – documentaries only. She had no time for fiction of any kind, which she regarded as a species of lying. She particularly had no time for Shakespeare, whose popularity she regarded as a conspiracy by an intellectual mafia of actors and directors and producers. Poetry in general, she said, was the longest way of saying the least.

She was not best pleased, to put it mildly,  when I decided to leave university to become an actor, but she said, typically, that though she would never give me  a penny in support, and though she was certain I had no talent whatever, nonetheless she thought I should do it because if I didn’t I would regret it for the rest of my life.

She knew what it was to regret.

She took only limited pleasure in my success as  an actor, cheering up a bit when I started writing books and directing, both of which she regarded as proper, grown-up jobs.

She gave up working as  a secretary at the first possible moment, when she was 60, and withdrew to the countryside. This proved too isolated for her, so I got her a flat in Croydon, sufficiently rural and within easy striking distance of London, where three or four times a week she would go, either to the latest exhibition at the Royal Academy or to Westminster Cathedral for mass or benediction:  her mother’s brother-in-law John Francis Bentley was the architect of the cathedral, though  that sort of thing – family connections – never impressed her. She went to church to further her very intense and very personal relationship with her god, in whom she believed with a simple and literal faith. God the father, that is: I don’t know that she had much feeling for Jesus or Mary or the Holy Ghost. No, it was the Old Testament God, severe and all-knowing, whom she adored, daily awaiting, as she often told me, the  day when she would die, go to heaven, and sit on his knee while he explained to her all the aspects of his creation that baffled her – why her 18-month old daughter had been snatched from her, why she had married the wrong man, why she had had to toil so unceasingly – why there was suffering, why there was injustice.

It was ten years ago that her mind collapsed, suddenly, overnight, after a long period of paranoia and fear for her life. Overnight, she lost her identity – her past disappeared like the hard disk of a broken computer. Then all the fixed points of her universe – God, the Church, me – lost all reality for her. And yet, though she increasingly lost the power of speech and the ability to function, there was a force of personality there, which impressed everyone who came across her – a huge inner force – and though she sat for hours in silence between meals, she always seemed to be thinking, trying to resolve some huge problem, it seemed to me. I sometimes thought that when she solved the problem, she would allow herself to die. She hung on and on, thinking furiously. And then in April this year, she let go. I like to think – I can only hope – that she’d finally solved the problem.

Some years ago, when she still had the power of speech, though she was not often able to make sense, she was vouchsafed one of those rare moments of lucidity that sometimes comes to those afflicted with this terrible condition. I came into the day room in her residential care home, and found her sleeping. I woke her up, and she suddenly smiled, a warm and happy smile, glad to see me. “How are you?” she asked, which was a rare question since she had disappeared into her own world. “Well,” I said, “busy – busy as you always were, working hard, as you always did.” I tried as I had so often done to bring her back to who she had been, what she’d done. “You worked so hard, you were a wonderful secretary, oh yes, I have all the glowing testimonials your bosses gave you whenever you left a job.” She smiled again, another radiant smile. “Really?” she said. “You mean I was of some worth?” “Oh, yes, I said, great worth, you did wonderfully well.” “I’ve often wondered,” she said. “Sometimes I don’t know who I was. I’m so glad.” And then I lost her again. But that moment, that knowledge of   who she was – of what she’d done - of how she’d toiled against so many obstacles – of what an honourable, determined life she’d lived – I hope that was  with her when she died. She was dealt a lousy hand of cards by life, in many ways.  But she played them to the utmost of her abilities, and she deserves our honour and respect. And love.

MAY 2015
Review of Tuesday's at Tesco's

In a bold and expert performance that makes no concessions to an actor’s vanity or an audience’s sympathy, the august British actor Simon Callow portrays — no, fully inhabits — Pauline in Emmanuel Darley’s “Tuesdays at Tesco’s.

Link

APRIL 2015
Campaign to regenerate Legal Aid

Simon was part of the team that recorded the soundtrack for the campaign to regenerate Legal Aid

Link

APRIL 2015
Print review for Outlander

‘Outlander’ 1×10 Recap: Put Up Your Dukes

Link

APRIL 2015
Creditors Official Teaser Trailer #1

The official teaser trailer for the eagerly anticipated Creditors has been released, take a look here:

Link

MARCH 2015
Tuesdays at Tesco's

We are very excited to announce that Simon will be performing in Tuesdays at Tesco’s in New York City from May 14th to June 7th, 2015. 

Click here for more info and to purchase tickets

MARCH 2015
Virtuoso

Simon  is  going to be in HBO's pilot for Alan Ball’s new series, Virtuoso. Shooting next month in Budapest. Virtuoso is period drama set against the complex and volatile backdrop of 18th century Vienna.

Read more here

February 2015
Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway

Saturday 28th February.

Simon will be appearing on the Ant and Dec show: Saturday Night Takeaway this weekend on ITV at 7pm. 

February 2015
Golden Years

On February 26th, Simon starts filming an Indy feature called Golden Years, with Bernard Hill, Virginia Mckennaan and Alun Armstrong. Directed and written by John Miller. 

February 2015
The Flying Dutchman, The Royal Opera House

On Tuesday February 24th, Simon is presenting the world-wide broadcast of The Flying Dutchman from the Royal Opera House. 

February 2015
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

On Sunday February 15th at 3pm, Simon is doing a concert in Birmingham with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. The music is by Elgar and Shostakovich.

February 2015
BBC Concert Orchestra

February 3rd 2015, Simon will be in the recording studio to record texts with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by John Andrews. The music is Sir Arthur Sullivan's incidental music for the tempest and Macbeth.

January 2015
Royal United Hospital

On Friday January 30th at 18:30, Simon will be giving the Awards at the Royal United Hospital's annual get-together in the Assembly Rooms, Bath.

December 2014
Guardian Review

Simon Callow pays tribute to film-maker Mike Nichols

Their first meeting, a script reading for Postcards from the Edge, felt like a reunion. Simon Callow looks back at his 25-year friendship with director Mike Nichols, who died last week

Link

December 2014
Guardian Review

Simon Callow: The Golden Age of Pantomime

Never underestimate the power of a heavyset hero in fishnet tights. Panto has long provided the heart, soul and high camp of the festive season. How did it all begin?

Link

December 2014
A Christmas Carol - Review

A Christmas Carol, Houston Grand Opera, Wortham Theater Center, Houston, Texas — NEW review

Link

The tradition of performing A Christmas Carol as a one-man show goes back to Dickens himself and continues with contemporary practitioners such as Patrick Stewart and Gerald Dickens. Now it has inspired a brilliant new opera by the young British composer Iain Bell, with a libretto by the actor, director and Dickens expert Simon Callow and a performance of astounding stamina and vigour by the tenor Jay Hunter Morris. Don’t expect jolly holiday entertainment, although the new Christmas Carol is amply heartwarming in its own entrancing way.

October 2014
**NEW** Diary Section Added

We have added a new section to the website. Please find 'Diary' located on the top information bar. 

Here you will find a complete schedule of Simon's appearances past, present and coming soon! 

July 2014
The Man Jesus

The Man Jesus - UK tour

The Tour

Date Town Venue Box Office
10 & 11 Sep Salford Quays The Lowry 0843 208 6000
12 Sep Horsham Capitol 01403 750220
13 Sep Bideford Devon Hall 01805 624624
14 Sep Exeter Northcott 01392 493493
16 Sep Brighton Theatre Royal 0844 871 7650
17 Sep Aylesbury Waterside 0844 871 7607
18 & 19 Sep Southend Palace 01702 351135
20 Sep Newport Riverfront 01633 656679
21 Sep Richmond Theatre 0844 871 7651
23 & 24 Sep Mold Theatr Clwyd 0845 330 3565
25 Sep Dundee Rep 01382 223530
26 Sep Musselburgh Brunton 0131 6652240
27 Sep Berwick Maltings 01289 330 999
28 Sep Lincoln PAC 01522 837600
29 Sep Bromley Churchill 08448 717 620
01 Oct Leicester Curve 0116 242 3595
02 Oct Darlington Civic 01325 486555
03 Oct Southport Atkinson 01704 533333
05 Oct Cheltenham Everyman 01242 572573
06 Oct London Lyric 0844 482 9674
07 Oct York Grand Opera House 0844 871 3024
9 – 11 Oct Guildford Yvonne Arnaud 01483 440000
12 Oct Leeds West Yorkshire Playhouse 0113 213 7700
13 Oct Milton Keynes Theatre 0844 871 7652
15 Oct Neath Gwyn Hall 0300 365 6677
16 Oct Halesworth Festival 01986 872000
17 Oct Spalding South Hollland Centre 01775 764777
19 Oct Plymouth Theatre Royal 01752 267222
20 Oct London artsdepot 0208 369 5454
21 Oct Canterbury Marlowe 01227 787787
22 Oct Woking New Victoria 0844 871 7645
24 Oct Bridport Electric Palace 01308 424901
25 Oct Malvern Festival Theatre 01684 892277
27 Oct Harrogate Theatre 01423 502 116
28 Oct Bristol Tobacco Factory 0117 902 0344
30 Oct Dublin Pavilion Theatre 01 231 2929
31 Oct Coleraine Riverside Theatre 028 70 123 123
01 Nov Limerick Lime Tree Theatre 061 774774
02 Nov Cork Everyman 021 450 1673
03 Nov Northampton Theatre Royal 01604 624811
04 Nov Oxford Playhouse 01865 305305

Various dates and venues. See www.themanjesus.co.uk for details.

Ros Povey, Zoë Simpson and Seabright Productions present Simon Callow in the Lyric Theatre Belfast production of The Man Jesus by Matthew Hurt

Directed by Joseph Alford

This extraordinary play looks back two thousand years to witness key moments in the life of ‘the man Jesus’, through the eyes of the people who knew him. 

Simon Callow, one of Britain's best-loved actors, performs this fresh and moving account of biblical stories including the raising of Lazarus, the wedding at Cana and the journey to Jerusalem. His powerful portrayal of the tyrants, traitors and madmen in Jesus’ life asks people of all faiths and none: what sort of a man was able to inspire the history of the world?

Thought-provoking, thrilling and full of wit, this production premiered to great acclaim at Belfast’s Lyric Theatre, and now embarks on a strictly limited UK tour.

‘Callow renews our sense of wonder at the son of man and his story.’  
Daily Telegraph

'Callow and Hurt manage to keep us gripped.’
Sunday Times

‘Callow is stunning.’  
Belfast Times

August 2014
Juvenalia

IN LONDON THIS WEEK!

26th to 30th of August at St. James Theatre

Directed by Simon Stokes
Adapted by Richard Quick
From a translation by Peter Green

Simon Callow does stand-up comedy – filthy, scabrous, politically incorrect – as he lambasts foreigners, plutocrats, women, gays – as delivered last in Rome AD 100.

Juvenal was one angry white middle-class male. In Juvenalia he tells it like it was. And is.

‘A comic delight … Callow comes on like a foul-tempered and thoroughly vicious Woody Allen’

Times

‘The observation and lyricism delight and resonate’
Time Out

For tickets and information: LINK

Coming Soon ** December 2014 **
Houston Grand Opera - A Christmas Carol

Houston Grand Opera

Running from the 5th to 21st of December

A Christmas Carol 

When Charles Dickens' novella A Christmas Carol appeared in 1843, it delighted Victorian London and still inspires imaginations today.

Iain Bell, a promising young British composer, has written a captivating score to a libretto by Simon Callow, the renowned film and stage actor. Remembered for roles in films like A Room with a View and Four Weddings and a Funeral, Callow has also played Ebenezer Scrooge and Dickens himself on the screen.

Together, they have penned a spellbinding, intensely theatrical experience for HGO's intimate Cullen Theater. The opera is a true tour de force - a one man show - with Houston favorite Anthony Dean Griffey as the narrator of this beloved fable. We will, without doubt, leave the theater with a deeper understanding of the holiday each time we say, "Merry Christmas."

Cast
The Narrator - Anthony Dean Griffey
The Narrator - Kevin Ray (Dec. 17 and 20)

Creative Team
Conductor - Warren Jones 
Director - Simon Callow
Set & Costume Designer - Laura Hopkins
Lighting Designer - Mark McCullough
Houston Grand Opera Orchestra

LINK & BUY TICKETS HERE

 

August 2014
The Guardian - Simon Callow: A return to Juvenalia

Phony politicians, flashy oligarchs, gay marriage. As Simon Callow takes his one-man show to Edinburgh, he explores the timeless bite of Juvenal's Satires...

Link to the Guardian article 

July 2014
The Guardian - Simon Callow: Why Der Rosenkavalier reveals the real (and racy) Richard Strauss

With its comic intrigues and double cross-dressing, as well as its longing for a vanished world, this is Strauss's most successful and satisfying opera...

Link to The Guardian article 

July 2014
Juvenalia

Edinburgh Festival and London

Directed by Simon Stokes, Adapted by Richard Quick, Translated by Peter Green.

Riverside Studios, London

Tues 17- Tues 22 July 7.30pm

http://www.riversidestudios.co.uk/cgi-bin/page.pl?l=1401198398

Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh

Jul 31, Aug 1-5, 7-10, 12-17, 19-25 at 3.30pm

https://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/theatre/simon-callow-in-juvenalia

St James Theatre

Tues 26-Sat 30 Aug, 7.30pm (matinee performances at 2.30pm on Thurs 28th and Sat 30th

http://www.stjamestheatre.co.uk/events/simon-callow-in-juvenalia/

Simon Callow does stand-up comedy. Filthy, foul-mouthed, viciously funny, and deeply politically incorrect. The target: immigrants, plutocrats, women, gays. As last delivered in Rome AD 100. Juvenal was one angry white middle class male. In Juvenilia he tells it like it was. And is. The Writer, Juvenal born circa ad 55, wrote sixteen satires that attacked the decadence of Rome in its heyday. Here adapted by Richard Quick we are given a view into the moral decline that is as relevant now, as it was back then.

July 5 2014
THE GREAT BRITISH MUSICALS (ST. JAMES THEATRE, LONDON)

Following the critically acclaimed sell-out concert, Ivor Novello – The Great British Musical, award-winning Musical Director Ross Leadbeater and The Novello Singers return to the St James Theatre for a limited 3 performances only with a new theatrical concert celebrating the best of The Great British Musicals.

Narrated by BBC Radio 4 Just A Minute host Nicholas Parsons CBE (Friday and Saturday Eve) and Stage and Screen legend Simon Callow CBE (Saturday Matinee)  this is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to enjoy a ‘glamorous night’ at St James Theatre with Ross Leadbeater and The Novello Singers – a newly established eight-voice musical theatre ensemble.

The concert celebrates the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, Lionel Monckton, Vivien Ellis, Noel Coward, Ivor Novello, Lionel Bart, Leslie Bricusse and Andrew Lloyd Webber, and features a special First World War centenary tribute to Ivor Novello’s 1914 composition ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’.

30 June 2014
CITY OF LONDON FESTIVAL CONCERT AT MANSION HOUSE

30 June 2014

Join us for a theatrical exploration of Beethoven through his music and letters. Intense emotion, psychological drama and the Academy of St Martin in the Field's signature interpretation of Beethoven provide "as edge of a seat experience as you will find", featuring award-winning screen and stage actor Simon Callow, Inon Barnatan and in a change to the previously published line-up, Jack Liebeck (director/violin).

15 June 2014
BRETTON WOODS (BBC RADIO 3)

Seventy years ago, in July 1944, with the most disastrous war in history in its death-throes, a secret meeting took place in a hotel deep in the forests of New Hampshire. Bankers and economists from over forty nations met to draw up a settlement to save the world economy and secure the peace. Everything depended on two men - John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White, played in this new play by Simon Callow as Keynes and Henry Goodman as White.

23 May 2014
CRACKANORY - SERIES 2 (DAVE)

Featuring a star-studded array of storytellers like Harry Enfield, Sally Phillips, Richard Hammond, Sarah Solemani, Rebecca Front, Kevin Eldon, Hugh Dennis, Jessica Hynes, Sharon Horgan, Jack Dee, Stephen Mangan and Charlie Higson, this brand new and exclusive Dave original taps into a bygone age of television storytelling. But this time, instead of the cosiness of the original it took inspiration from, Crackanory is packed full of darkly funny yarns that are firmly set in the cut and thrust of 21st century life.

Each episode features two 15-minute tales narrated by some of the best names in comedy and featuring some special guests, while these unique stories are brought to life with a mix of live action and animation. Simon will be appearing in the second series, due for release later in the year.

14 May 2014
VALE OF GLAMORGAN FESTIVAL (BBC Radio 3)

We’re thrilled to announce that Simon Callow is confirmed as the narrator for the performance of Tarik O’Regan’s Suite from the Heart of Darkness on Wednesday 14 May at BBC Hoddinott Hall.

The Suite is extrapolated from O’Regan’s opera of the same name based on the novella by Joseph Conrad.  The spoken text for the narrator is based on the libretto written by Tom Phillips.  An added bonus is the post-concert talk which will see Callow joining O’Regan and Phillips in conversation with broadcaster Nicola Heywood-Thomas.  

Full details of the concert, given by BBC National Orchestra of Wales, can be found: 

http://valeofglamorganfestival.org.uk/concerts/bbc-national-orchestra-of-wales/

30 April 2014
NEWSNIGHT (BBC2)

Simon Callow concludes Newsnight's celebration of Shakespeare's 450th birthday playing Prospero, from The Tempest.

26 April 2014
CREDITORS (FEATURE FILM)

Director: Ben Cura

Producer: Cuibar Productions (ES) /Tough Dance (GB)

A love triangle is unraveled when a painter whose career and marriage are in decline is approached by an admirer and eased into making sense of his troubled relationship with his wife. The movie is based on the original play by August Strindberg (recently revived at the Donmar in 2008 in London and at the B.A.M. in 2010 in New York).

Simon plays Chloe Fleury’s literary agent John Allen. John is seen at her book-launch party on Osea Island approaching Freddie Lynch, a famous young painter. Freddie’s earlier accidental encounter with Chloe, in a remote corner of the island, has left a mark on him - which John can sense. He uses this to take advantage of a photo-op with the two - which will eventually segue, Chloe’s husband being absent, into adultery.

17 April 2014
PLEBS - SERIES 2 (ITV1)

But what about the little guys, the wasters - new to the big city, stuck in office jobs, unable to get the girls?

Plebs follows three desperate young men from the suburbs as they try to get laid, hold down jobs and climb the social ladder in the big city – a city that happens to be Ancient Rome.

The series stars Tom Rosenthal (Friday Night Dinner), Joel Fry (White Van Man) and Ryan Sampson (After You’ve Gone) as the three young men – Marcus, Stylax and their lazy slave with an attitude problem, Grumio. 

Simon will be making a guest star appearance in the second series. 

31 March 2014
POINTLESS CELEBRITIES (BBC1)

Simon appeared on the quiz show's theatre special.

12 April 2014
THE GUESS LIST (BBC1)

"Rob Brydon hosts a new series in which five celebrities help contestants to guess the answers to some rather revealing questions. The famous faces in this episode are James Corden, Jennifer Saunders, Simon Callow, Emilia Fox and Louis Smith."

13 February 2014
Being Shakespeare

Simon Callow brings to life Shakespeare's unforgettable characters and the real man behind the legend in this triumphant and critically acclaimed play. 

Don't miss your chance to experience this magnificent performance from one of Britain’s finest actors, as BEING SHAKESPEARE sets the West End alight for a strictly limited run of 22 performances only. 

The show returns to the the London stage following its run at the Trafalgar Studios in 2012 and subsequent off-Broadway transfer. 

At the Harold Pinter Theatre from 26 February until 15 March 2015,

Click here to buy tickets

13/02/2014
Space Age and Outlander

Simon is very excited about staring in the up and coming: Space Age and Outlander. 

One to keep an eye out for... 

21/11/2013
Charity Concert for Great Ormond Street Hospital

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Sponsored by Trailfinders, the concert will be a wonderful evening for adults and children alike and will feature popular congregational carols accompanied by the Choristers of Thomas’s Battersea, the London Central Fellowship Band and the Band of the Grenadier Guards, along with heart-warming readings from a host of well-known special guest and patients from Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Simon will be appearing on Tuesday 10th of December

Click here to buy tickets

21/11/2013
Charity Concert for Breast Cancer Care

Tuesday 17th December 2013

Join us to celebrate the festive season at the magical setting of St Paul’s Cathedral for our popular, annual Carols by Candlelight. This wonderful evening will put you in the Christmas spirit with seasonal readings from our celebrity supporters; be entertained by the world-renowned St Paul’s Cathedral Choir as they lead the carols, and enjoy spectacular performances throughout the evening.

Carols by Candlelight in 2013 will include readings and performances from celebrity guests. We're excited to announce that Jonathan Ansell will be singing at the event, and actor Simon Callow CBE will be reading. We will update this page with more guests, so check back for updates.

Gather after the service by the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral for delicious festive treats. For guests wishing to continue the Christmas merriment, we host an intimate champagne supper in the charming Crypt of St Paul’s, under the Cathedral floor. Here you’ll enjoy a champagne reception, delicious supper and the opportunity to bid in our luxury ‘auctionette’.

Click here to buy tickets

17/10/2013
Etiquette on London's Transport Network

TFL Campaign 

Etiquette on London's Transport Network

Voiceover:

Watch here

29/10/2013
Inside Wagner's Head

Latest News:

Wagner's Head is at the Theatre Royal Plymouth on the 12th, 13th and 14th of December (Matinee & Evening)

Simon is currently performing a new one-man show – Inside Wagner’s Head - as part of the Deloitte Ignite festival.

‘The most surprising thing I discovered was his autobiography. You assume an 800-page biography by Wagner is going to be heavy, but it’s one of the most entertaining biographies by an artist I’ve ever read’, said Simon. ‘It shows he does have a sense of humour. It doesn’t conceal anything, it’s absolutely lousy with anti-Semitism but equally it’s full of vision and brilliance and jokes. He was a funny man!’

In creating Inside Wagner’s Head, Simon revealed he has discovered a hugely complex character – one who was fervently nationalist but who hated militarism and imperialism. The BAFTA-winning actor also spoke of reconciling Wagner’s anti-Semitism with his ability to create awe-inspiring works:

‘It’s really difficult – I think that it’s a pathology in his case. When he was being painted by Renoir he chit-chatted most agreeably with Renoir and then suddenly a five-minute tirade against the Jews, completely unprovoked, and then after the tirade back to chit-chat. It was like a Tourette’s syndrome.

‘Wagner was a delinquent by temperament… he glamorized his participation in the revolution of 1849 – he went round joining in with the general mood of danger and excitement. He was very excited by being in the presence of [Mikhail] Bakunin, the great anarchist; the most famous terrorist in the world at the time. Wagner, like Dickens, is one of those people who attracted extraordinariness to him. Wherever he went, everything became more extreme. He self-dramatized to an astonishing degree, but that’s who he was.’

Simon also spoke about Wagner’s relationship with his patron King Ludwig II of Bavaria, his revolutionary activities and Wagner’s turbulent love affairs as well as giving a sense of how he himself developed Wagner’s voice for the one-man show.

Book tickets here

Click Here to Listen to Simon speaking about Richard Wagner

20/10/2013
Lifetime Contribution To The British Theatre

Announced As Recipient Of The Stage Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre at the 2013 UK Theatre Awards.

Click here for more information

20/10/2013
Chin-Chin

Felicity Kendal and Simon Callow star as two people who have something in common: the affair that exists between their spouses!

Set in burgeoning 1950’s Paris, Chin-Chin tells of the often hilarious and ultimately disastrous effect of the affair, as the jilted couple rendezvous in a Paris apartment to set the world to rights, where they declare their independence in life, and in love.

But out of these undesirable circumstances, special connections are forged, and the un-likely pair soon realise that they will leave the ‘city of love’ with more than they had bargained for...

Dates and venues are as follows:

Cheltenham Mon 18th Nov - Sat 23rd Nov

Cardiff New Theatre Tue 26th Nov - Sat 30th Nov

Truro Hall For Cornwall Mon 2nd Dec - Sat 7th Dec

Click here to buy tickets

© Simon Callow 2013