Will Waspe's Whispers
You may have thought that the 'Ballet Mum,' immortalized by Halevy in literature and by Duvivier on film, was a dying breed. There is, though, one with a formidable reputation as a daughter-doting dragoness who is exciting comment in ballet circles even now.
London would not have been able to admire Liliana Cosi as guest artist with the Festival Ballet (in their Festival Hall season just ending) had not the shy and personally charming Eva Evdokimova, who was with the company at the Coliseum in the spring, withdrawn her agreement to dance with them this time. All that can be said about that change of mind is that Mum's the word — and experienced observers of the ballet world fear that little Eva's promising career may be seriously harmed unless she is able to demonstrate quite soon and explicitly her independence of the apron-strings.
I suppose the announcement from Mr Arnold Wesker, withdrawing his ban on the performance of his plays in South Africa, was the non-news of the week. I should have doubted whether his decision, arrived at after much agonizing soulsearching, mattered two straws to anyone but himself; but he found one or two newspapers to feed his ego by quoting, deadpan, his pompous statement ("it is foolish to participate in a campaign that deprives people of that consciousness art can bring"); and enough comment was forthcoming to enable him to write a follow-up letter to the Times quite staggering in its display of self-esteem. Wesker is plainly in no doubt of his importance as an author of "major contemporary plays."
Could it be that he is feeling the pinch of non-production? Since he abandoned his early talent for theatricality and began thinking of himself as a sage and a philosopher (even, perhaps, as an intellectual), there has been little enthusiasm for his work in London where his first play to be produced for years, The Friends. achieved no more than a few days' run at the Roundhouse (where else?) about eighteen months ago. But perhaps in Johannesburg and Capetown they are so deprived of "that consciousness art can bring" that they are actually clamouring for the stuff.
Lord George-Brown has, after all, been persuaded to chair the first three programmes in the BBC's new Sunday-lunchtime, Radio 4 talk-show, It's Something Else, I hear he'll have that much-exposed actress Glenda Jackson and ITV's ex-footballer Jimmy Hill on the first programme on Sunday week, when the trick will be to get any of them saying anything they haven't said before — in public if not to each other.