Transcript: Christopher Hope | Apr 04, 1989

(violin music plays)

In animation, a marble entrance with two columns floating on misty mountains opens up to reveal a small bookshelf. Book covers from the collection flash by, including Cat’s eye by Margaret Atwood and The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie.
The title of the show appears as a book cover with a picture of the marble entrance: “Authors at Harbourfront.”

The Narrator says THE FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS AT
TORONTO'S HARBOURFRONT IS ONE
OF THE WORLD'S FOREMOST
LITERARY EVENTS.
NOW ENTERING ITS TENTH YEAR,
THE FESTIVAL ANNUALLY ATTRACTS
50 OF THE WORLD'S BEST AUTHORS
TO THE STAGE, TO READ FROM
THEIR WORKS AND PARTICIPATE
IN INTERVIEWS AND DISCUSSIONS
WITH THEIR PEERS.

The screen turns as if it were a book page and a male narrator speaks as clips of different authors speaking at Harbourfront flash by.

The Narrator continues CHRISTOPHER HOPE OF SOUTH
AFRICA HAS RECEIVED MANY
AWARDS FOR HIS SHORT
STORIES AND NOVELS.
HIS FIRST NOVEL ABOUT APARTHEID
“SEPARATE DEVELOPMENT.”
WAS INITIALLY BANNED
IN SOUTH AFRICA.
IN THIS PROGRAM, CHRISTOPHER
HOPE DISCUSSES POLITICS AND
WRITING AND READS FROM HIS
NOVEL “KRUGERS ALP” AND HIS
LATER NOVELLA “BLACK SWAN.”

The author’s two books appear one next to the other. A caption reads “Christopher Hope. South Africa.” On the top right corner of the screen, a paused clip featuring Christopher zooms out.

Christopher Hope sits on a chair. He’s in his mid-fifties, clean-shaven with receding wavy light brown hair. He’s wearing big glasses, a black turtleneck and a light gray jacket.

Christopher says THE TROUBLE WITH THE SOUTH
AFRICA SITUATION IS ONE
DOESN'T GO BACK TO
VERIFY THE FACTS.
THE FACTS ARE IN THE POSITION
OF THE POLICE, NINE TIMES OUT
OF TEN, SO IT'S HISTORY.
THEY ARE THOSE WHO WRITE
THINGS THEIR OWN WAY,
AND WE ARE THOSE WHO READ
THE TEXT THEY WRITE,
WHETHER WE LIKE IT OR NOT.
NO, I WENT BACK TO SEE WHETHER
THE PREMISE UPON WHICH I
FOUND MYSELF BECOMING A
WRITER, WHICH WAS THAT THE
LUNATICS HAD LONG AGO TAKEN
OVER THE ASYLUM, AND PUT ON
WHITE COATS AND HAD NOW
ADOPTED THE MEDICAL POWER SO
WONDERFULLY THAT SHE COULD
NOT BE DISTINGUISHED ANY
LONGER FROM THE REAL THING.
WHETHER THAT WAS
STILL THE CASE.
AND I NEEDED TO SEE
IT WITH MY OWN EYES.
I NEEDED TO FIND OUT WHETHER
WHAT I HAD BEEN INVENTING ALL
THESE YEARS, IN A KIND OF
SELF-IMPOSED EXILE, WAS
FICTION, OR WAS, IN FACT,
SOMETHING LIKE THE TRUTH.
AND IT WAS FOR THOSE
REASONS THAT I WENT BACK.

[applause]
(classical music plays)

Christopher comes to the stage and says GOOD EVENING, LADIES
AND GENTLEMEN.
I WON'T PREFACE MY READING
WITH TOO MANY COMMENTS BECAUSE
I THINK IT TENDS TO INTERFERE
AT THE BEST OF TIMES AND TO
CAST VERY LITTLE LIGHT
AT THE WORST OF TIMES
ON WHAT ONE IS TO READ.
I'LL SAY ONLY, VERY BRIEFLY,
THAT THE TWO CHARACTERS
INVOLVED IN THIS FIRST EXTRACT
FROM MY NOVEL
KRUGER'S ALP
ARE A MIDDLE AGE PRIEST, A
WHITE PRIEST CALLED BLANCHAILLE,
WHOSE NAME TRANSLATES FAIRLY
VULGARLY INTO WHITE PLATE,
AND HIS SERVANT, CALLED
JOYCE, WHO ACCOMPANIES HIM
IN THIS PARTICULAR EPISODE,
TO A BLACK TOWNSHIP
SITUATED ON THE EDGE OF
A LARGE AND UNNAMED
CITY SOMEWHERE ON THE
HIGHVELD IN SOUTH AFRICA.
He makes a pause and reads “NOW, I SAW IN MY DREAM HOW THE
ROAD WHICH BLANCHAILLE AND
JOYCE FOLLOWED TOOK THEM PAST
A GREAT TOWNSHIP ON THE EDGE
OF THE CITY.
PERHAPS THIS WAS THE TOWNSHIP
IN WHICH BLANCHAILLE'S FRIEND
MIRANDA HAD DIED.
BUT IF SO HE GAVE NO
INDICATION OF IT.
AND OUTSIDE THE TOWNSHIP,
BESIDE THE USUAL SCROLLS OF
BARBED WIRE, SO ORNATE THEY
TOOK ON THE LOOK OF SOME LEAN
AND SPIKY SCULPTURE, THE
PRIEST AND HIS HOUSEKEEPER SAW
POLICE VANS AND ARMOURED CARS
CROWDING IN AT THE GATES, AND
ARMED POLICEMEN IN POSITIONS ON
THE ROOVES OF THE HOUSES, AND
IN TREES, AND IN ANY HIGH
VANTAGE POINT, TRAINING THEIR
GUNS ON THE TOWNSHIP.
THEN I SAW A SHORT, STOCKY
MAN, WITH A SUB MACHINE GUN
UNDER HIS ARM STOOP
FORWARD AND INTRODUCE HIMSELF
TO THE TWO TRAVELLERS
AS COLONEL SCHLAGTER.
THIS SCHLAGTER WAS A BURLY,
CAPABLE-LOOKING MAN, BUT THAT
HE WAS UNDER SOME STRAIN WAS
CLEARLY APPARENT FROM THE
TIGHT GRIP HE KEPT ON THE
BLACK MACHINE GUN, JABBING IT
AT THEM, AND DEMANDING
TO KNOW THEIR BUSINESS.
WE, SAID BLANCHAILLE,
ARE ON A JOURNEY.
AND HE INDICATED HIS SUITCASE.
SCHLAGTER JERKED
HIS THUMB AT JOYCE.
DOES THIS GIRL HAVE
A PERMIT TO BE HERE?
NO ONE IS ALLOWED
WITHOUT A PERMIT.
WHY IS SHE OUTSIDE?
WHY IS SHE NOT INSIDE
WITH THE OTHERS?
SHE IS WITH ME.
SHE IS MY SERVANT,
BLANCHAILLE EXPLAINED.
IN THAT CASE, SAID
SCHLAGTER, SHE CAN HELP.
AND HE TURNED TO JOYCE.
HE SAID, I HOPE YOU'VE
GOT STRONG ARMS, MY GIRL.
BECAUSE THERE'S A LOT
OF WORK FOR YOU HERE.
HE LED THEM INTO THE TOWNSHIP
WHERE BEFORE THE HUGE AND
FORTIFIED POLICE STATION, A
BLEAK SIGHT MET THEIR EYES.
IN THE DUST, THERE LAY SCORES
OF PEOPLE, VERY STILL, WITH
JUST AN EDGE OF CLOTHING, A
CORNER OF A DRESS, A TIP OF A
HEAD SCARF LIFTING IN THE
GENTLE BREEZE, WHICH CARRIED
ON IT THE UNMISTAKABLE HEAVY
SMELL OF MEAT AND BLOOD.”

(music plays)

Back in the interview, Christopher says I START FROM THE FACT
THAT IT SEEMS TO ME THAT
ALL GOVERNMENTS
ARE CONSERVATIVE.
MINE, IN PARTICULAR,
OF COURSE.
AND I HAVE NO OTHER WAY OF
EXPRESSING MYSELF, EXCEPT IN
PERVERSE OPPOSITION TO WHATEVER
CONSTITUTES AN AUTHORITY.
THIS IS A DIFFICULTY I HAVE.
AND IT DOES NOT RELENT WHEN I
AM FACED BY GOVERNMENTS LESS
SEVERE THAN MINE OWN.
BUT WHAT DOES STRIKE ME IS
THAT, IN A VERY CURIOUS WAY,
THOSE REGIMES WHICH BAN
BOOKS WITH A KIND OF EASY
EQUANIMITY, IN A VERY
ODD WAY PAY THE WRITER
A KIND OF COMPLIMENT.
WHICH GROWS INCREASINGLY
HARD TO FIND.
I MEAN, A SOCIETY WITH CENSORS
IS A SOCIETY WITH AT LEAST A
FEW READERS.

Standing on the stage, Christopher reads “PRIEST AND SERVANT WANDERED
AMONG THE FALLEN PEOPLE.
MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN,
TUMBLED INTO HEAPS
OR SPRAWLED ALONE.
BLANCHAILLE NOTICED THE
REMNANTS OF CLOTHING.
SEVERAL OLD SHOES, A PETTICOAT,
AND EVEN A KITCHEN CHAIR
SCATTERED ABOUT.
MOST OF THE PEOPLE HAD BEEN
SHOT RECENTLY, FOR THEY WERE
STILL WARM, AND
BLED PROFUSELY.
HE HAD NEVER REALIZED HOW
MUCH BLOOD THE HUMAN BODY
COULD CONTAIN.
AND HOW THE VIOLENT
PERFORATIONS OF HEAVY,
CLOSE-RANGE FIRE WILL MAKE
THE BLOOD GUSH AND SPREAD.
AND THEN, STRANGER STILL,
THERE WERE OTHERS WHO SHOWED
NO SIGN OF WOUNDS OR BLOOD,
NOT EVEN A SINGLE PUNCTURE.
BUT THERE WAS BLOOD ENOUGH
SOAKING INTO THE DUST, MAKING
A PUNGENT, STICKY MUD, WHICH
BLANCHAILLE AND JOYCE STIRRED UP
STILL FURTHER WITH THEIR FEET,
THOUGH THEY TRIED TO BE AS
CAREFUL AS POSSIBLE.
THE POLICEMEN, FROM THEIR
VANTAGE POINTS, SIGHTED DOWN
THEIR RIFLES.
IF WE PICK THEM UP, IT WILL
BE EASIER, BLANCHAILLE SAID.
IF WE WORK TOGETHER.
DO YOUR OWN WORK
YOURSELF, JOYCE RETORTED.
BLANCHAILLE BEGAN LIFTING THE
BODY OF A YOUNG MAN, SEIZING
HIS LEFT ARM AND HIS RIGHT
LEG, AND CARRYING HIM ACROSS
TO THE VERANDA.
THE MAN WAS A TERRIBLE WEIGHT.
HE SAID TO JOYCE, I CANNOT
DO IT MYSELF, NOR CAN YOU.
WE MUST HELP ONE ANOTHER.
JOYCE DIDN'T EVEN
BOTHER TO LOOK AT HIM.
SHE GRABBED HOLD OF THE ANKLE
OF A PLUMP WOMAN WITH A
GAPING WOUND IN HER CHEST
AND SIMPLY DRAGGED HER ACROSS
THE GROUND IN A SLEW
OF PEBBLES AND DUST.
BLANCHAILLE HEARD THE WOMAN'S
HEAD BANG ON THE EDGE OF THE
WOODEN VERANDA AS SHE HAULED
HER ONTO THE BARE BOARDS.
SCHLAGTER YELLED FROM
HIS VANTAGE POINT.
HEADS ALL THE SAME WAY.
AFTER THAT, BLANCHAILLE
FOLLOWED JOYCE'S EXAMPLE.
SEIZED A LEG OR AN ARM, AND
TURNING HIS HEAD AWAY, HAULED
THE BODY UP TO THE STOOP.
ONLY THE CHILDREN HE CARRIED.
IT WAS BACK-BREAKING LABOUR,
AND EVENTUALLY, BLANCHAILLE
COULD STAND IT NO LONGER
AND WENT TO SCHLAGTER.
THERE ARE SO
MANY, HE SAID.
THIS IS GOING TO
TAKE A LONG TIME.
WELL, SAID SCHLAGTER,
GET ON WITH IT THEN.
PERHAPS WE COULD
HAVE SOME HELP?
DESPERATION MADE
BLANCHAILLE BOLD.
SCHLAGTER SHOOK
HIS HEAD.
MY MEN, HE SAID,
ARE ON WATCH.
WATCHING FOR WHAT?
THESE PEOPLE ARE
DEAD, BLANCHAILLE SAID.
THE COLONEL SMILED.
WHEN YOU'VE BEEN IN THE POLICE
FORCE FOR AS LONG AS I HAVE,
YOU WILL LEARN TO BE VERY
CAREFUL BEFORE JUMPING
TO CONCLUSIONS.
THESE PEOPLE MAY LOOK LIKE
THEY'RE DEAD, I GRANT YOU THAT.
BUT HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT SOME
OF THEM AREN'T PRETENDING?
LYING LOW?
THEY ARE A SLY LOT,
THESE TOWNSHIP PEOPLE.
I CAN TELL YOU THAT FROM
YEARS OF WORKING WITH THEM.
WHAT HAPPENS IF SOME OF THEM
ARE JUST WAITING UNTIL I ORDER
MY MEN TO PUT THEIR GUNS DOWN
AND GO AND START CARRYING
THE BODIES?
THEN, THEY JUMP
UP AND ATTACK.
NO, MAN, HE SAID, I'M NOT
TAKING ANY BLOODY CHANCES.
THESE PEOPLE ARE DEAD,
BLANCHAILLE INSISTED.
SAYS YOU.
I'M IN CHARGE HERE.
AND I'LL DECIDE
WHO'S DEAD OR NOT.”

(violin music plays)

In the interview, Christopher says I WISH SIMPLY TO HIT
LOW AND TO WOUND OFTEN.
[laughter]
[applause]
AND I RECOGNIZE, BECAUSE I SEE
THE LOOK OF PAIN SOMETIMES IN
THE EYES OF MY FRIENDS, ONE
EXPECTS IT, OCCASIONALLY,
IF YOU LAND A BLOW ON YOUR
ENEMY, THAT I'VE EXCEEDED
PROPER BEHAVIOUR.
AND I FEEL I OUGHT TO
APOLOGIZE AND FIND IT
IMPOSSIBLE TO DO SO.
BAD MOTIVES INFORM JUST
ABOUT EVERYTHING I DO.
AND IT IS FOR THAT REASON,
PRECISELY, THAT I BELIEVE THAT
WORDS MAKE THINGS HAPPEN.
I MEAN, IT SEEMS TO
ME TO BE UNARGUABLE.
AND I'M WELL AWARE THERE IS
A WONDERFUL CANON AND GREAT
TRADITION SUMMED UP, I THINK,
BY AUDEN, IN THE TAG USED THE
OTHER DAY, THAT POETRY
MAKES NOTHING HAPPEN.
NOW, IF AUDEN HAD SAID, MY
POETRY MAKES NOTHING HAPPEN,
OR POETRY MAKES NOTHING HAPPEN
IN SWINDEN, I WOULD NOT HAVE
QUARRELLED WITH IT.
BUT I FIND IT DIFFICULT IN ANY
OTHER WAY TO ACCEPT THE FORCE
OF THAT REMARK.

Before continuing reading, Christopher says AND, IN CONCLUSION, A SHORT
EXTRACT FROM A LITTLE NOVELLA
I WROTE A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO.
He drinks a glass of water and continues WHICH REQUIRES ONLY
SLIGHTLY MORE EXPLANATION.
IT IS BASED UPON THE STORY,
REAL AS IT HAPPENS, OF A YOUNG
BLACK BOY IN A TOWNSHIP
OUTSIDE JOHANNESBURG IN THE
MIDDLE '60s, WHO WAS ONCE
SHOWN A FILM OF THE BALLET
OF SWAN LAKE.
AND DECIDED IMMEDIATELY THAT HE
WOULD BECOME A BALLET DANCER.
AND NOT ONLY THAT, BUT THAT
HE WOULD DANCE THE PART OF
PRINCE SIEGFRIED.
AND SUCH WAS THE OBSESSION OF
THE BOY, THAT IT LED IN ALL
CASES TO QUIET DESPERATION
ON THE PART OF HIS FRIENDS
AND ABSOLUTE HORROR ON
THE PART OF HIS ENEMIES.
BUT THIS UNYIELDING
DETERMINATION OF THE BOY'S IS
THE THEME AND, I HOPE, THE
SUBJECT OF THE NOVELLA.
AND THAT'S PROBABLY ENOUGH
BY WAY OF EXPLANATION.
WHAT I SHALL READ IS A SCENE
FROM THE BOOK IN WHICH LUCKY,
THE BOY, HAS PERSUADED THE
PROJECTIONIST, THE BLACK
METHODIST PROJECTIONIST AT THE
LOCAL BANTU MEN'S SOCIAL HALL
TO SHOW HIS FILM
OF
SWAN LAKE.
THE PROJECTIONIST DOESN'T
ENTIRELY GRASP THE FULL THRUST
OF THE MOVIE, BUT HE HAS
AMBITIONS OF HIS OWN,
AND THAT IS WHAT THIS
SMALL EXTRACT DESCRIBES.
He reads “WHEN THE GERMAN DOCTOR THREW
HIM OUT, LUCKY TURNED ON HIS
BARE HEEL AND LEFT
THE LUTHERAN MISSION.
HE WALKED TO THE BANTU MEN'S
SOCIAL CENTRE WITH HIS CANS OF
FILM SLUNG OVER HIS
SHOULDER, AND THERE HE PUT
A PROPOSITION TO THE
PROJECTIONIST, SAM MEFAKONG,
THE FAT, BITTER METHODIST.
METHODISM WAS THE
PROJECTIONIST'S HOPE AND DREAM.
HE CHERISHED AND HELD TO
THIS RATHER CONSOLING FAITH.
METHODISM TAUGHT MEFAKONG
THAT A CHRISTIAN MUST,
AS HE FOLLOWS OUR LORD,
TAKE UP HIS CROSS.
BUT HE COULD NOT
EXPECT AN EASY RIDE.
HOWEVER, IT WAS AN
INEXPLICABLE CALAMITY IN SAM'S
CASE, THAT CHRISTIANITY ITSELF
PROVED TO BE THAT CROSS.
THE CONFLICT LAY BETWEEN
HIS JOB AND HIS FAITH.
AS A NON-SMOKING, SWEETLY
SPOKEN TEETOTALER, HE WAS
OBLIGED FOR HIS LIVING, TO
SHOW MOVIES OF AN UNRELIEVED
BRUTALITY AND VULGARITY TO A
COLLECTION OF THUGS, JAILBIRDS
AND WIDE BOYS WITH KNIVES
IN THEIR POCKETS AND BLIND
WORSHIP IN THEIR HEARTS
FOR THE WORST SORTS OF
HOLLYWOOD HOODLUMS.
SATURDAY NIGHT WAS
MEFAKONG'S DEVIL DUTY.
HE WAS THE
PROJECTIONIST IN HELL.
WHILE IT IS QUITE TRUE THAT ON
SUNDAYS HE REAPED HIS REWARD.
NOT ONLY IN THE MORNING WHEN
HE PREACHED IN HIS CHURCH,
BUT IN THE EVENINGS WHEN HE
SCREENED FOR A FAR SMALLER,
OLDER AUDIENCE, FILMS
OF SPIRITUAL UPLIFT.
EVEN SO, THE CLASH BETWEEN
THESE TWO ACTIVITIES WAS
GREATER THAN HIS
FAITH COULD RECONCILE.”

(classical music plays)

Christopher says THE POSITION WITH CENSORSHIP
IN SOUTH AFRICA IS THAT WHITE
WRITERS TEND, INCREASINGLY,
TO SUFFER FROM IT LESS THAN
BLACK WRITERS.
AMONGST BLACK WRITERS, IT IS
WRITERS OF PROSE WHO SUFFER
MOST FROM IT.
IT IS THEY WHO HAVE
THEIR BOOKS STOPPED.
DRAMATISTS WORKING IN
FACTORIES IN THE TOWNSHIPS
ON THE STREETS HAVE
BEEN LEFT ALONE.
AND I CAN ONLY IMAGINE THAT
IT'S BEEN DONE BECAUSE OFTEN
THERE ARE NO TEXT.
THE THING IS WORKED UP FROM
THE GROUND ONWARDS AND THEN
MADE TO HAPPEN IN A LUNCH HOUR
OR AFTER WORK OR BEFORE WORK
OR WHATEVER.
SO IT'S DIFFICULT TO STOP.
IT ALSO TAKES ON A FESTIVE AIR.
MOST EXTRAORDINARY THING ABOUT
BLACK THEATRE, IF YOU HAVE
SEEN SOME OF IT, AND THIS IS
A POINT I TRIED TO ALLUDE TO
EARLIER ABOUT THE RECKLESS
HAPPINESS OF THE VICTIMS.
THE RESILIENCE OF
SPIRIT IS STAGGERING.
WHAT COMES OUT OF BLACK
THEATRE, VERY OFTEN, IS A
SENSE, NOT ONLY OF DEFIANCE,
BUT CERTAINLY OF TRIUMPH, AND
OF QUITE OVERWHELMING GOOD
HUMOUR, OR GOOD NATURE.
I DO REMEMBER BEING CAUGHT
IN A DEMONSTRATION AGAINST
TRIALS TAKING PLACE IN CAPE
TOWN OF PEOPLE WHO WERE VERY
LIKELY TO END ON THE GALLOWS.
AND I THOUGHT I WAS ACTUALLY
JOINING A STREET PARTY BECAUSE
I WAS SURROUNDED BY THESE
VERY HAPPY DANCING PEOPLE.
NOW, I THINK IT'S VERY
DIFFICULT TO PUT DOWN THAT --
IMPOSSIBLE TO PUT
DOWN THAT SPIRIT.
AND PERHAPS THAT'S WHY
PLAYS HAVE ESCAPED AND ARE
PERMITTED, OR PERHAPS THEY
CAN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT THEM.
BUT THEY'RE SEWN INTO THE
FABRIC OF BLACK SOCIETY.

Christopher continues reading “HIS DREAM WAS TO SHOW
HIS SUNDAY FILMS
ON SATURDAY NIGHTS.
HIS DREAM WAS TO DO SOME GOOD.
FOR HE WAS AN AMBITIOUS MAN.
BUT HE WAS ALSO SENSIBLE.
AND HE KNEW THAT PURE
RELIGION WOULD NEVER SELL.
IT WAS THIS WHICH LED HIM TO
THE DECISION THAT PERHAPS
CULTURE MIGHT PROVIDE THE LINK
BETWEEN THE SATURDAY NIGHT
DEVILS AND THE GOOD
PEOPLE OF SUNDAY.
CULTURE MIGHT PROVIDE THE
LINK IF ONLY HE COULD LAY HIS
HANDS ON SOMETHING WHICH
COMBINED EXCITEMENT AND
ACTION WITH MORAL UPLIFT.
IT SEEMED TO HIM, AT ONE
TIME, THAT THE ANSWER LAY
IN SHAKESPEARE.
SPECIFICALLY IN THE FILM OF
MACBETH
, LENT TO HIM BY A
WHITE CHARITABLE ASSOCIATION
IN THE CITY KNOWN AS THE SONS
OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE.
ADMITTEDLY, HE HAD BEEN
OBLIGED TO ADVERTISE THE MOVIE
AS BEING THE STORY OF THE
LIFE AND DEATH STRUGGLE OF
A SCOTTISH GANG LEADER.
[laughter]
WHO RISES TO HEAD HIS
COUNTRY'S GOVERNMENT, BUT THIS
HAD BEEN NECESSARY TO PERSUADE
PEOPLE LIKE Mr. ICE, AND
TOUCAN MAFETTI, THAT IN THEIR
WORDS, THE CELLULOID WAS
WORTH A RUN.
TO CONVINCE THEM IT DESERVED
A SATURDAY SCREENING WAS NO
SMALL ACHIEVEMENT.
BUT HE ALSO NEEDED THEIR
REASSURANCE THAT THEY WOULD
SEE TO THE BEHAVIOUR
OF THEIR FRIENDS.
HE GOT THEIR REASSURANCE.
THE AUDIENCE WOULD GIVE THE
FILM A DECENT HEARING, AS
MAFETTI TOLD HIM, OR THEY
GET THEIR LIPS SLICED OFF.
AND INDEED,
MACBETH
WAS A GREAT SUCCESS.
IT CAUSED A STORM OF APPROVAL.
THE AUDIENCE WERE WITH
THE HERO FROM THE START.
[laughter]
THE MURDER OF DUNCAN DREW
APPRECIATIVE WHISTLES AND
SHOUTS OF, 'SMART MOVE, MAC'.
[laughter]
LADY MACBETH'S ATTEMPT TO
RALLY HER HUSBAND AFTER THE
ASSASSINATION RECEIVED
EQUALLY WARM SUPPORT.
'YOU TELL HIM,
DOLL', THEY SHOUTED.
[laughter]
WHEN BANQUO DIED AT THE HANDS
OF MACBETH'S HENCHMEN, BUT
HIS SON FLEANCE ESCAPED, THE
ENTIRE THEATRE GROANED ITS
SYMPATHY AND DISAPPOINTMENT,
AND SOMEONE LEAPT TO HIS FEET
WITH THE WARNING,
'IT'S A SET UP, MAC.
WATCH THOSE DAMNED WITCHES'.”

[laughter]

(music plays)

Sitting, Christopher says SOUTH AFRICA, I HAVE TO TELL
YOU IS AN IMMENSELY TEDIOUS
BORING MONOMANIACAL SOCIETY.
IT MUST BE.
IT IS BASED ON ONE
SINGLE PREMISE.
A VERY BORING ONE, AND I
SHAN'T REPEAT IT BECAUSE
I'M SURE YOU UNDERSTAND
WHAT IT IS.
AND OUT OF THIS,
NOT MUCH CAN GROW.
BUT IN ITSELF, IT IS MORE
INVENTIVE IN A SOCIETY,
AND IT OUTSTRIPS THE
BEST OF ITS WRITERS.
AND THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN GET
AT IT IS, IT SEEMS TO ME,
THROUGH OTHER TEXTS,
OTHER FORMS OF WRITING.
I CHOSE
PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
AND
KRUGER'S ALP
BECAUSE
THAT SEEMED TO ME A GOOD GUIDE
THROUGH A VERY BIG FOREST.

At the reading, he continues “THE ROLE OF THE TREACHEROUS
HAGS HAVING BEEN RUMBLED,
THIS USEFUL PIECE OF ADVICE
PUNCTUATED THE PROCEEDINGS
FROM THEN ON.
VERY EARLY ON, OF COURSE,
SAM MEFAKONG FELT HE SHOULD
OBJECT TO THIS UNUSUAL
READING OF THE PLAY.
BUT HE HAD HIS PROJECTOR TO
MIND, AND HE TOOK A LONG VIEW.
GAMBLING ON MACBETH'S BLOODY,
AND RICHLY DESERVED NEMESIS,
TO CORRECT ANY DISTORTIONS
IN HIS HEATHEN AUDIENCE.
ALAS, IT WAS A GAMBLE HE LOST.
THE APPEARANCE OF MACDUFF,
SAVAGE AND UNSTOPPABLE, CRYING
FOR VENGEANCE FOR THE MURDER
OF HIS WIFE AND CHILDREN
CAUSED AN ERUPTION OF ABUSE.
AND
BOER PIG
WERE JUST SOME
OF THE INSULTS
DIRECTED AT MACDUFF.
AND WHEN HE RAN MACBETH
THROUGH WITH HIS SWORD, A NEAR
RIOT BROKE OUT IN THE CINEMA,
AND FLYING OBJECTS STRIKING
HIS PRECIOUS SCREEN, FORCED
MEFAKONG TO STOP THE SHOW.
IT WAS A BAD BLOW.
SAM FOUND HIMSELF HAVING TO
REFUSE REQUESTS FOR MORE
CULTURE, FOR EXACTLY THE
SAME REASONS AS HE HAD HOPED
TO INTRODUCE SOME CULTURE
IN THE FIRST PLACE.
AND THE EXPERIENCE
HAD EMBITTERED HIM.
YET, A SMALL FLAME OF HOPE
BURNT SOFTLY IN HIS HEART.
HIS FAITH INSISTED THAT
HE REMAIN OPTIMISTIC.
CERTAINLY, HE REMAINED ENOUGH
OF THE MISSIONARY TO FIND THE
PROPOSITION OFFERED TO HIM BY
THE FUNNY, SKINNY, DANCING
BOY TO BE IRRESISTIBLE.
PARTICULARLY SINCE THE BOY,
LUCKY'S OFFER OF THE FILM,
CAME WITH ABSOLUTELY
NO STRINGS ATTACHED.
IT WAS FREE.
IT HAD NOT BEEN STOLEN.
HE CHECKED.
AND LUCKY'S DESCRIPTION OF
WHAT IT WAS ABOUT ENTRANCED
THE OLD MAN.
IT'S, IT'S ABOUT THESE SWANS,
WHICH ARE BIRDS WITH WHITE
FEATHERS AND HUGE ARMS
WHO DANCE LIKE THIS.
LUCKY DANCED.
I KNOW SWANS, SAM SAID.
SO IT'S A NATURE FILM.
[laughter]
AND THE PRINCE SIEGFRIED
GOES HUNTING FOR THESE SWANS
WITH HIS BOW.
TERRIFIC, SAID SAM,
SO IT'S GOT ACTION.
AND THE PRINCE, THE PRINCE, HE
FALLS IN LOVE WITH THE SWAN,
WHO IS REALLY A LOVELY GIRL
WHO HAS BEEN BEWITCHED
BY A WIZARD.
AND THE PRINCE
WISHES TO SAVE HER.
SAM CLAPPED HIS HANDS.
HE SAID, A LOVE STORY, HE
SAID, A LOVE STORY ABOUT DUMB
ANIMALS OF WHICH EVEN
THE SPCA WOULD APPROVE.
HE SAID, ONE QUESTION,
DO THEY MARRY?
THEY DIE.
SAM WAS STRICKEN.
NO, HE SAID.
LUCKY SOFTENED THE BLOW.
AND YET, ALSO THEY DO NOT
DIE, THEY, THEY PASS BY.
AND THEIR FRIENDS, ALL THE
SWAN GIRLS DANCE FOR THEM AS
THEY PASS BY.
PASS BY, SAID SAM?
LUCKY WAS UNABLE TO
EXPLAIN AT THIS POINT,
BUT HE WAVED HIS
ARMS VAGUELY.
HE SAID, YES, THEY GO
SOMEWHERE AT THE BACK,
SWIMMING AWAY.
YOU CAN SEE THEM
THROUGH THE CURTAIN.
THE PRINCE AND THE SWAN
GIRL FOREVER TOGETHER.
BUT THIS SIMPLY CONFUSED
SAM STILL FURTHER.
THEY GO AT THE BACK, HE SAID?
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
THEY GO WHERE?
LUCKY THOUGHT HARD.
FINALLY, HE CAME
UP WITH THE ANSWER.
OVERSEAS.
[laughter]
AND ALL THE SWAN GIRLS, THEY
DANCE GOOD-BYE LIKE THIS.
AND LUCKY ROSE ON HIS TOES AND
SPREAD HIS FINGERS IN STIFF
FANS, WHICH HE FLUTTERED AT
HIS WAIST TO SUGGEST THE
SKIRTS OF THE GRIEVING SWANS.
DON'T DO THAT, BOY
[laughter]
SAID THE OLD PROJECTIONIST.
ONLY GIRLS DO THAT.
IT GIVES PEOPLE
THE WRONG IDEA.
OKAY, I'LL SHOW YOUR FILM.
AND HE SOLD OUT THE THEATRE
THE NIGHT HE SCREENED
LUCKY'S FILM.
ALL HIS FELLOW METHODISTS
CAME FOR MORAL UPLIFT.
THEY ALSO BELIEVED IN BEING
KIND TO DUMB ANIMALS.
PERHAPS A FEW CAME BECAUSE
THEY WISHED TO SEE PRECISELY
WHAT A SWAN LOOKED
LIKE WHEN IT DANCED.
BUT, PRINCIPALLY, THEY CAME
BECAUSE SAM ASSURED THEM IT
WAS A FILM ABOUT WILDLIFE AND
A STORY OF THE TRIUMPH OF
LOVE OVER DEATH, AS WELL AS
BEING A MUSICAL EXTRAVAGANZA
EXTREMELY POPULAR OVERSEAS.
[laughter]
AND THE GANGSTERS CAME, TOO,
IN EVEN GREATER NUMBERS.
THEY CAME BECAUSE IT WAS
RUMOURED THAT SAM MEFAKONG HAD
OBTAINED A FOREIGN FILM WHICH
WAS FULL OF WOMEN WHO WORE
PRACTICALLY NO CLOTHES.
Mr. ICE DECLARED THAT THE
WOMEN WORE SKIRTS SO SHORT
THAT THEY SHOWED
OFF THEIR PANTS.
AND MATANZI OFFERED US HIS
OPINION THAT IT WAS QUITE
POSSIBLE, BUT HE DIDN'T LIKE
TO VERIFY IT, THAT THEY WORE
NO PANTS AT ALL.
WHILE TOUCAN MAFETTI SAID HE
KNEW, OR AT LEAST HE KNEW
PEOPLE WHO KNEW, THAT THE FILM
SHOWED PEOPLE MAKING LOVE
TO ANIMALS.
THE FIRST FIVE MINUTES
PASSED IN STUNNED SILENCE.
[laughter]
THE ARRIVAL OF THE QUEEN
MOTHER WAS GREETED WITH BOOS.
THE DRUNKEN OLD TUTOR
WAS LOUDLY MOCKED.
BUT IT WAS THE ARRIVAL OF THE
SWANS THAT DID THE REAL DAMAGE.
[laughter]
A LOW RUMBLE BEGAN IN THE REAR
OF THE HALL WHERE THE HEAVY
MOB WAS SITTING.
THE METHODISTS TRIED TO
CONTAIN IT CLICKING THEIR
TONGUES IN ANNOYANCE AND
HISSING AT THE GANGSTERS
TO BE QUIET.
BUT THE RUMBLE ROSE TO A HIGH
PITCHED ELECTRIC HUM, AS IT
BECAME CLEAR TO THE HOODLUMS
THAT THEY HAD BEEN DUPED.
THEN, IN A BODY LIKE DEMENTED
BEES, THEY ROSE FROM THEIR
SEATS AND FLEW FOR SAM
MEFAKONG'S PROJECTION ROOM.
THE OLD MAN, FEARING FOR HIS
EQUIPMENT, TRIED TO STOP THEM.
A BLOW TO THE TEMPLE
DROPPED HIM IN THE DOORWAY.
HE NEED NOT HAVE BOTHERED.
THEY WERE VERY CAREFUL WITH
THE EQUIPMENT, IT WAS THE FILM
THEY WANTED.
THEY TORE IT FROM THE
PROJECTOR, THEY SLASHED IT
WITH RAZORS, THEY
STAMPED ON IT.
THEY TOOK A GREAT GREY CLOUD
OF IT TO THE BACK DOOR
AND SET IT ABLAZE.
AND WHEN THE BOY LUCKY MADE
HIS WAY FROM THE DARK CINEMA
WHERE THE METHODISTS SAT
QUAKING IN THE DARKNESS,
THEY ATTEMPTED TO FEED HIM
TO THE FLAMES, AS WELL.
AND MIGHT HAVE SUCCEEDED, HAD
THE POLICE NOT ARRIVED IN
THEIR VAN TO INVESTIGATE
REPORTS THAT FOREIGN
PORNOGRAPHIC MATERIAL WAS
BEING SCREENED AT THE BANTU
MEN'S SOCIAL CENTRE.”
He concludes THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

[applause]

(classical music plays)

The end credits roll.

Produced and Directed by Tracey Fisher.

Executive Producer, Michael Vaughan.

A Production of TV Ontario.

Copyright The Ontario Educational Communications Authority 1988.

Watch: Christopher Hope