Fact or Fiction ? - Shakespeare — Wallah — Macbeth In Durban

Laura Liddell as Lady Macbeth — Photo by Willoughby Blew

The two photographs here (taken by yours truly and not by my Argentine cousin, Willoughby Blew who lives in Florida) are of Vancouver actors Collen Wheeler and Christopher Gaze who is also the Artistic Director of Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach. They originally appeared in one of my daily blogs (every day since January 2006)

A few months ago I watched on my TCM a beautiful b+w film Shakespeare — Wallah which is a 1965 James Ivory (director and writer) picture about a family troupe of English actors in India. They travel around the towns and villages giving performances of Shakespearean plays. Through their travels we see the changing face of India as the old is replaced by the new, Maharajas become hotel owners, sports become more important than culture and the theater is replaced by Bolliwood movies. What I found amazing is the film was based on the travels of Geoffrey Kendal with his daughter Felicity Kendal who played their parts in the film.

Geoffrey Kendal as Macbeth — Photo by Willoughby Blew

I did some research and I did find that Geoffrey Kendal and his wife Laura Liddell did indeed run a troupe of English actors and traveled around the towns and villages of the Indian subcontinent. What is not so well known is that his company did a small tour of South Africa in 1948 and while performing Macbeth in Durban they happened to be photographed by Durban’s favourite son photographer, Willoughby Blew. I found these photographs in an old Durban Journal, The Durban Turban at the Vancouver Public Library. The reviewer, James Blew, perhaps the photographer’s brother or father wrote: The Kendal Company has given us a roaring version of the bard’s gory play! Laura Liddell, a distant relative of Alice Liddell of Through the Looking Glass fame, was brilliant and specially striking in her blood red hair. Geoffrey Kendal’s Macbeth was not as convincing as we believe that the part should have been played by a younger player and Kendal should perhaps set his sights on Lear.

Link to: Shakespeare — Wallah — Macbeth In Durban

Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.

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