Tag Archives: absurdism

➤ Enigmatic Scott Walker lets loose a revealing rush of answers

Scott Walker ,Dazed & Confused,interview,30 Century Man,Culture Show,Rod Stanley

Scott Walker 2011: “Maybe one day I’ll surprise myself and actually walk out on a stage again.” Photograph © Jamie Hawksworth

Scott Walker, the former pop baritone with 60s heart-throbs The Walker Brothers who subsequently evolved into the low-key genius of underground music, proves unusually talkative in a brisk but exceptionally informative interview with Rod Stanley in October’s 20th anniversary issue of Dazed & Confused. Now aged 68, Scott finally acknowledges he is a Composer of the Absurd, and says what it would take to drag him onto a stage again. Here’s a taster…

❏ FOR THE PAST COUPLE OF DECADES, Scott Walker’s unsettling, experimental and occasionally downright disturbing music has drawn on such diverse narrative sources as Elvis Presley’s stillborn twin brother, the films of Ingmar Bergman, and the public execution of Mussolini’s lover. As viewers of the documentary 30th Century Man will recall, during the recording of his 2006 masterpiece, The Drift, his long-suffering percussionist was even made to pummel the side of a piece of pork to get just the disquieting, meaty thud that the composer could hear in his head.

D&C: Detractors of your more recent work point to the unrelenting horror and misery, but 
I argue they miss its humour. Would you agree your work always retains a fundamental sense of its own absurdity, in the best possible sense? How ‘real’ is the extreme emotional content of your work, and how much is performance?

Scott Walker: You’ve understood the work perfectly. It’s about balance. It is indeed difficult to separate the emotional from the performance, or the ‘character’ as I’d like to call it. I usually try not to rehearse or learn the vocal before attempting to sing it. I just leave it rolling round in my head. I simply want to try and catch immediacy and discover afresh what might be going on in that way.

➢ Read more at Dazed & Confused

➢ The on-off brotherly rivalry that drove John and Scott Walker apart — Shapersofthe80s on the death of John

➢ Brian eno and other fans heap respect upon Scott — Culture Show interview from 2006 (below):


2011 ➤ England’s dotty Simpson who inspired the Pythons

playwright, N F Simpson, obituary, One Way Pendulum , Resounding Tinkle ,theatre,

Playwright N F Simpson: a very English absurdist. Photographed © by Luca Sage

❚ N F SIMPSON, THE DRAMATIST, died this week aged 92. The Observer critic Kenneth Tynan dubbed Simpson “the most gifted comic writer the English stage has discovered since the war” after seeing the double bill of A Resounding Tinkle and The Hole  in 1958. And after One Way Pendulum (1959), he suspected Simpson of possessing “the subtlest mind ever devoted by an Englishman to the writing of farce”…

➢ The Daily Telegraph obituary continues…

… His focus on the surreal was influenced by The Goon Show and in turn influenced Monty Python and Peter Cook… Simpson was one of the four principal writers to establish the English Stage Company’s influential regime at the Royal Court Theatre in the late 1950s. The others in that first batch were John Osborne, John Arden and Ann Jellicoe. But in a movement whose central work was Osborne’s Look Back In Anger, Simpson was spiritually an outsider.

➢ Michael Coveney says in today’s Guardian obituary:

The playwright NF Simpson, was generally identified with the Theatre of the Absurd movement alongside Eugène Ionesco, Arthur Adamov, Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. But Simpson was peculiarly and singularly English in his absurdism. He turned suburban characters into weird chatterboxes and language into highly imaginative chop logic, and mixed a comic brew that derived more recognisably from the worlds of Lewis Carroll, W S Gilbert and the Goons, without the puerile edge that came along with Monty Python…

➢ Michael Billington calls Simpson a blissfully funny and deeply English dramatist — in The Guardian today

The plays of N F ‘Wally’ Simpson, were hilariously subversive, yet masked a deeply philosophical mind … He was often compared with Eugène Ionesco. But I always thought he belonged to a deeply English tradition of word-spinning, logic-twisting absurdity. Simpson’s real ancestors were Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear and the Goons. His legatees were Peter Cook, the Monty Python gang and the Goodies…

One Way Pendulum ,N F Simpson , Woodfall Films, John Cleese ,Jonathan Miller ,Dick Lester,
➢ VIEW A CLIP from One Way Pendulum as Jonathan Miller conducts his choir of weighing machines

❏ This short clip from the 1964 Woodfall film of One Way Pendulum only hints at the Simpson universe. John Cleese saw the film in a cinema in Weston Supermare and called it a true classic of surrealist comedy. It is directed by Peter Yates with Jonathan Miller as the dotty Kirby, the son of a dotty father (Eric Sykes) in a dottily obsessive suburban household. Kirby retunes a choir of Speak-Your-Weight machines and trains them to sing the Hallelujah Chorus. All except one obey his bidding.

Simpson’s vision directly inspired a whole generation of comedy in the UK from Dick Lester’s Beatles movies (1964-5) to the Monty Python TV series (1969-74) and beyond. It was One Way Pendulum that took Simpson from the Royal Court theatre into the West End and in 1988 Jonathan Miller revived it at the Old Vic. Simpson’s final play, If So, Then Yes, was staged only last year.

➢ Reality is an Illusion Caused by Lack of N F Simpson was a documentary broadcast in April 2007 on Radio 4

If So Then Yes, N F Simpson,Jermyn Street theatre,David Quantick❏ David Quantick appraised playwright N F ‘Wally’ Simpson as one of the foremost absurdists of the 20th century. The documentary featured material recorded at a workshop for a new play, If So, Then Yes, his first full-length piece in 30 years. It charts a day in the life of octogenarian writer Geoffrey Wythenshaw, who sits down to dictate his autobiography from the comfort of a retirement home for the upper crust. After its Royal Court reading it then played at the Jermyn Street theatre during September 2010.