It’s Father’s Day. This is my seventh post in honour of my dad’s 90th Year. We lost him when he was 78. It takes a long time to process losing a loved one. I have posted 7 short films in honour of his life taken from the work I did on ‘Little Blue Man’ – an homage to Dad. I have done this over seven days from his birthday to Father’s Day.
Gate Seven: The Stoker. Before I was born, my dad was a stoker in the Royal Navy, working in the ‘belly of the ship’. This final film honours him (Terence Roy Waterfield born 13 June 1931), my birth father, and also another man: the father of Third Theatre (my theatrical lineage) Eugenio Barba, also a stoker in the Merchant Navy born 29th October 1936.
In this extract Dad’s shipmates and theatre director Eugenio Barba embody the Stoker bringing to life for me what my Dad may have done before I was born when he was in the Navy. You will see how dad’s shipmates recount their own experience and knowledge of life in the belly of the ship. I am amazed at this synchronicity. I have collaborated with Eugenio’s theatre company Odin Teatret since 1990. His theatre was established in 1964 when I was 8 encountering my first experience of Theatre-in-Education in Coventry at Alderman’s Green Junior School. In this film my theatre life comes crashing into Dad’s Navy experience. Waves of coincidence and synchronicity roll about through ‘Little Blue Man’. It’s uncanny.
Here in this interview, I discover the visceral aspect of Dad’s life at sea as Eugenio recounts his experience as an Italian immigrant stoker in the Merchant Navy in Norway, working on his ship Talabot. My dad’s ship in the ‘Far East’ was HMS Cockade. I discovered from his service history he worked on others often minesweepers in the clear up after the Korean War. At Dad’s funeral his shipmates ensured we had a sailor’s hat with HMS Cockade placed on his coffin. They gave him a proper sailor’s send off. I remember the sun shone as they played the last post. After his funeral we had a sharp frost and his ashes remained frozen in a cross shape for days and days and days.
At this gate career and family life come together in these two men who have had a major influence on me. I am glad to have known them both and to share the pages of a new book ‘Poetics of a Third Theatre’ which charts that journey.
and Gate Six
Here is the seventh short film.