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Interviewing impresario Jim Haynes while Studs in England ; part 2

BROADCAST: 1968 | DURATION: 00:28:10

Transcript

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Studs Terkel So where does this leave us? This this place? Who come here? Obviously visitors come here, mostly young from England, London.

Jim Haynes Yeah, I think the the first layer of people and will probably be the the layer that everything will be rest on, the foundation of the place, are young people of, say, under 25, under 30, from down as low as about 16, I guess, mainly London-based but really international. They drift in. I'd say any given point in time we'll have two Swedes, three Germans, a couple of Americans, a Canadian or two, an Australian, I mean, few Indians, I mean, it's really, it's plus

Studs Terkel There was the international flavor last night I noticed, as I met this young former Illinoisian whose last name is Swensen and two young guys nearby, said, "Oh, Norwegian," and they were from Norway, you see, and thus throughout and listening, watching this marvelous actor you have, Tutte Lemkow, working the two one-act plays, these are in-between, we should point out, we we we left the Kafka monologue hanging and that's the, it's the professor who is not too far removed from being an ape. And it's a remarkable piece of theatre, as well as performance.

Jim Haynes It is a remarkable piece of theatre, I think Kafka would have been very proud of it. You know, I don't think he realized that powerful piece of theatre he created with that essay. I'm very, very pleased with it. I mean, you know, I think it's superb. I would like to in fact take it to America, to New York, with the

Studs Terkel -- I was thinking, I was going to raise that subject. Before that, though, later on as the evening goes along, people go out for coffee, finishes that, the stage is being set for the light show; down below, another room, we see Lemkow again as the old Yugoslavian peasant, very remarkable, funny drinking tale [unintelligible], and so it's connected with the film, though-

Jim Haynes Yeah.

Studs Terkel -"The Life of, a Life of"--

Jim Haynes "Tola Manojlovic."

Studs Terkel "Manojlovic" by Moma Dimic-

Jim Haynes Yeah.

Studs Terkel -which I think is a contemporary playwright.

Jim Haynes It's only been done, this produc-- This play has only been done once before, in Belgrade, and there it was treated completely differently. They treated it as a more of a folkloric piece with this very quaint Tola speaking a very unusual form of Serbian dialect and it was, the the power of the thing came across to a sophisticated Belgrade audience in a kind of absurd language game. Here, we can't play that language game, because it would be meaningless. I mean, who, no one -- Well, one thing, no one -- we coul- if we did it in Serbian no one would understand, if we could even find an actor who could perform it in Serbian, and b, doing it in English is is is ridiculous. So what we've tried to do with the piece, two things, mainly to see how far the theatre as a medium of expression and film as a medium expression, how -- What are their limitations and what are their, you know, their boundaries, you know, what, what can they say.

Studs Terkel But thinking, it was remarkable [unintelligible] mixed media here, too. There was a film, involving the real Tola, I take it,

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Studs Terkel -an actual film of this old man who is surviving, it's a very funny film, I mean the the sketch is funny, too, an old man surviving despite his many, many physical ailments, at the same -- Because of these ailments, he's living off the fat of the land because the pensions-

Jim Haynes Yeah.

Studs Terkel -in a socialist society. It's very funny. In the meantime, the actor, Lemkow is very funny, he's getting a little drunk each time because it's also making, you have the audience loosen up, too, with a little slivovitz, you know, and it's quite a remarkable performance, but over and above that in contrast to the Kafka, this powerful overwhelming serio-comic horrifying monologue, you have a very funny mellow kind of thing, so all kinds of moods are

Jim Haynes Did you have a, did you have a cup of slivovitz?

Studs Terkel Oh, sure. Well, of course, [laughter] wouldn't miss it. He tossed a good cup at me. So this is down in the basement. In the meantime, you have films of all sorts, don't you?

Jim Haynes Yeah. That room is normally the cinema, and it -- Yeah. No, he has no appear-.

Studs Terkel And there, throughout, as I'm talking to Jim Haynes there, not only calls, but some of the people here, asking questions, so you keep all this in your head that goes on here continuously, yeah. And I'm thinkin' we'll come back to theat- you also it's the artist, though [music in the background] -- You were talking about the films. I wanna to come back to you and the artist in a moment, you and the playwright. I hear music, too, now in the background. You're talkin' about films, all all at some traditional art films, as well as many underground films.

Jim Haynes Yeah. Well, before midnight Tuesday through Sunday in the cinema we show mainly [glasses clanking] experimental new films on 16 millimeter. Now, we're really the only 16-millimeter cinema in London and here it's a city of 10 million people, it's ridiculous. Whereas Paris I think, has about half a dozen, I'm sure New York has half a dozen. And we're really the only cinema in town for anyone who's making new films. And because of price and what-have-you, just about everyone is making it on 16 mil. So they arrive from all over London, Britain, and the world with their films under their arms. And we've become a kind of home of young young filmmakers.

Studs Terkel We're not talkin' about the artist, the filmmaker, the playwright, somewhere in on-your conversation you were saying about it's not so much the audience that's important, you know, it's the playwright, for example, if the play, the stage would involve half the house, it'll seat only 50 people instead of a hundred.

Jim Haynes Yeah.

Studs Terkel So you're not worried about

Jim Haynes Yeah. Again, that's why we call ourselves an arts laboratory. The emphasis really is on the the work itself, rather than on the audience, which is completely polar opposite of of any commercial house you can think of. The the the room we call the 'theater room,' that rectangular-shape room in fact is completely adaptable. You saw two variations of it on Sunday, but the first four productions you wouldn't have recognized the room. At one point in time, at one production people sat along the long walls facing in, and the piece ran along all the whole middle. There was no stage as such. One piece was done with a curtain in the middle, and the same piece performed on each side of the curtain, and people sat at the far ends looking into the internal curtain. Another piece was done about boxing with a boxing ring set in the middle and the actors were acting on the ring and people sat around the ring as in a normal boxing match. So when we say we're fluid and adaptable, I think you know we are fluid and adaptable. We have even we have even plans of productions which will take place outside of here. People will come here and buy their ticket, perhaps, and then be transported on a bus or bicycle or taxi or walk, wherever we're going into the situation

Studs Terkel -- You know, you're talking about, perhaps some day bringing it to America. I had a fantasy about watching the Kafka play, a monologue more of a play, that fantasy of Jim Haynes' Arts Laboratory in Chicago, let's say. But how would you do this? Here it is a fixture. You've rebuilt the place, it was a warehouse. It's an institution. You would take -- [phone rings] As you answer the phone.

Jim Haynes Excuse me. Arts Lab.

Studs Terkel Question hanging on air. Suspense.

Jim Haynes Yeah. Which bill? Oh yes, why don't you call 2- 4- 2- 7- 3 -1- 1? I think he's there. If he's not there, he's at the International Times office. Sure. Bye. [door knock] Come in. Hello.

Studs Terkel This is a simple day in the life of Jim Haynes. That's all right.

Jim Haynes Come in.

Studs Terkel I didn't mean to interrupt. Go ahead.

Jim Haynes How are you?

Yvette Romais [unintelligible].

Jim Haynes Yeah. Yes and no. [Yvette Romais?].

Studs Terkel How are you? [unintelligible]

Yvette Romais I'm I am sorry, sir. I can go away and come back in [muffled music playing in background] [unintelligible] I have to see you for up to a quarter of an hour before I go [unintelligible].

Studs Terkel I shouldn't have cut that off. Partly I thought maybe there's some conversation that Jim had to conduct, but it wasn't. This is an example -- This goes on all the time, does it not? An example of international aspect of it, she's from France, she was here, you're involved with a variety obviously of people in the arts, it would seem it would seem at anywhere any time.

Jim Haynes Yeah. Well, it's it's as I said, we said earlier, I mean I really am a clearinghouse.

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Jim Haynes And I think every city needs clearing houses. I mean there's nothing worse than arriving at a large city and with millions of people, thousands of people walking around everywhere, and no place to go and check in.

Studs Terkel Yeah but the ironic touch, I've got to ask you this before I ask you about America, what America is connected with, you're a young American, [unintelligible]-

Jim Haynes Yeah.

Studs Terkel you see. And not a Londoner by birth. This is the point. So you are the clearinghouse for London.

Jim Haynes Yeah, but I feel, I feel like I'm a Londoner now. I don't feel -- In fact I, [cough] I said at the beginning of this tape, I I don't really feel very nationalistic about any place. I mean, I think it's really an evil, nationalism. I think that when we can start thinking we are a world family and not in nationalisms, we will be much better off, we'll be much safer.

Studs Terkel This is really the key, then to your credo, isn't it, I mean, this whole flavor, that is, a flavor obviously that is beyond any national boundary, any geography.

Jim Haynes I think that when we can start being tolerant and more understanding and more giving rather than taking that, you know, the world just might make it.

Studs Terkel Well, I hope you're right. You said the world just might make it.

Jim Haynes Well, I mean it's it's everyone's so out for himself and for his own family, and no one -- Everyone's grasping at -- I mean, you kn--this I think is specially evident in an America where the country is so rich and so powerful and they're thinking only of a particular geographic area.

Studs Terkel Just as you're talking, I couldn't help but think of the young guy I accidentally met last night. I sat at a table having something of a fine stew last night, he with his two little kids, Kelly Swensen, and why, what led him to this place, he just knew of it. He's just one of these young Americans who went off on his own looking. He was dissatisfied with something, and he knew there was some other way. But he found your place. Though he'd been to Nigeria and he'd been to other countries, too, he found this place.

Jim Haynes Well, I think this place is a free place and a tolerant place and a welcoming place, and people know that the people doing it, doing the thing, they're doing it because they feel it's important and necessary for them to do it, and we're not trying to make a fast buck. I mean, the whole thing has been done by volunteer labor, by my friends coming in helping to build the place and paint it and and the the amount of money actually put on it to build this thing is less than, you know, well, and I said less than $10,000. I mean, it's it's nothing, but what we've got

Studs Terkel And so the people, you and your colleagues more or less the, you live on somewhat subsistence.

Jim Haynes Well, the- I'm I'm kind of, am the, I pay a fairly large payroll every week and it really depends on the the employee not what his position is here, but how much he needs. If he has a wife and children, then he gets more than someone who doesn't have a wife and children. It's it's based on a need basis rather than a skill or or their position in the hierarchy.

Studs Terkel Each contributes, you figure each contributor's as best he can, as far as work.

Jim Haynes Yeah, I mean there's no there's no checking of the timeclock. If a piece has to be done and it takes 10 hours or 12 hours people stay on to finish the piece. I mean

Studs Terkel Yeah I never could figure out, again, [cough, throat clearing] who is working here and who's not. That was an informal thing, I didn't know who it was, whether it's a customer or not. How many people do you have, just

Jim Haynes Well, I don't know if you noticed Sunday a week ago, the night of the concert, when we

Studs Terkel The John Cage concert.

Jim Haynes We had to move this

Studs Terkel Piano.

Jim Haynes Piano.

Studs Terkel I did notice it, yeah.

Jim Haynes I went out into the foyer and said, "I need 10 strong men, or 15 strong men," and they came in

Studs Terkel [phone They

Jim Haynes They were customers

Studs Terkel As Jim is answering the phone, I can describe this incident. The piano needed moving, and just there was a call, could they move this heavy piano, and the customers, ten young guys came and of course they wanted to be part of it. There's no line of demarcation here between the people working here and the patrons, the guests. They all seem to share the same [hammering in background] wide-open spirit. The hammering you hear in the background is probably the making of a set,-

Jim Haynes I don't know either [in

Studs Terkel -as Jim was answering the phone that is ringing on this off day continuously. Clearing house, indeed. [tape squeal] So there we go again, and to the question, the the hanging question, the bringing, what would you bring to America, you, how, the question is how can you bring this whole spirit, the idea of this complex that is here, you see?

Jim Haynes Well, the only thing I think I can do as far as bringing the complex is to show people how it's done and aid and abet them and encourage them to do, to create similar situations. In fact, I hear rumors in the air of one starting in Ireland, one starting in Holland, one starting in Sweden, [bell ringing] and but about America, I don't know. I was asked to go to New York by a fairly influential New York lady and set one up. But I'm, you know, this is, this place is only four months old. It hasn't been going

Studs Terkel This is the first, really? This is the first of its kind?

Jim Haynes Yeah, I'd guess probably the Edinburgh Traverse was the first.

Studs Terkel And that was yours.

Jim Haynes That

Studs Terkel By the way, and there's something called the Converse Traverse, is that right? Here?

Jim Haynes London Traverse.

Studs Terkel London Traverse. What's 'traverse'? What traverse [bell ringing] is a common word here that I don't quite

Jim Haynes No, well Traverse was just the name. [bell ringing] In fact, it was a compromise name for the the theatre that we started in Edinburgh. The name meant -- The room was shaped like this magazine, a kind of long, thin room.

Studs Terkel Oblong shape.

Jim Haynes Oblong-shaped. And the theater was in the middle and the audience sat on each side, and we named it Traverse because, the thea- the stage traversed the audience, cut it in two. And I've been kind of stuck with that name for the last five or six years.

Studs Terkel If you were to come to America without setting up the complex, talking now about traveling the program-

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Studs Terkel -which would be the two one-act plays and the light show and

Jim Haynes There's there's a very very strong possibility that they will both go to America for a month [phone rings] sometime in the near future, either together or independent of each other. Negotiations are already underfoot.

Studs Terkel We come back, perhaps before we leave Jim Haynes on this quiet day. Before we come back[bell ringing], you and the artists, the playwrights, for how they, the plays you produced more than any other perhaps in in Britain the past five years. How'd they know of you? That's the thing, I we asked it of young Quackenbush earlier. He -- Is there a grapevine?

Jim Haynes There is a grapevine. I mean, there's a grapevine in just about any, any sphere of activity. [phone rings] If you're an architect, you you know about the architects who are doing things around the world. If you're an artist, you know about the galleries who are doing things, and if you're a filmmaker or playwright now, you know about me, and you know about this place.

Studs Terkel And some of these plays that you have, you must read an inordinate amount of scripts, then.

Jim Haynes Well, I'm singularly lucky in having a co-director, also a young American boy from Oklahoma, called Jack Moore, who is, you know, who goes through, has probably read, is probably the best-read man in contemporary theater around anywhere. He reads about 1,000 to 2,000 scripts a year. I stopped reading them some time ago. I mean, I read them still, but having a co-director of of that ability [bell ringing] has lightened my load.

Studs Terkel So, this idea, Jim, has come to you then, it grew in a sense that there was a spirit you had in Edinburgh, feeling with the bookstore, which more and more than a bookstore, in a sense this is more than a theater, it's an environment that you speak of, a certain environment, a certain climate, really.

Jim Haynes Well, a kind of like, remember when you were a child and you had a place which was called 'base,' where you could run to and you were you were safe. Well, this is a kind of base, and people can run here and they know that they're not going to be harassed or persecuted or they're going to be free to to relax and enjoy themselves. This is kind of our London base.

Studs Terkel To the Arts Laboratory. It's a converted warehouse and it's interesting, it's on Drury Lane, we think of Drury Lane as we read about it, you know, Americans knew this place where there was a theater once, and 168 and one

Jim Haynes Eighty-two.

Studs Terkel One eighty-two Drury Lane.

Jim Haynes It's very strange, because London theatre theatre land is a kind of in a 'U' around us, and we're right in the middle of the U. Right at the bottom is the Royal Shakespeare Company, Allwich, and then it goes down the Strand, up Charing Cross Road, into Piccadilly Circus, up Shaftsbury Avenue, right up here to the northern border here. So we're right in the middle of the U. The opera house is just sharing, it's in the middle of the U with us.

Studs Terkel This is a club, too, it's called a club.

Jim Haynes Yeah. We're a club. We're a club for mainly two or three reasons. Mainly as it was our source of revenue, getting started, our capital came from that, but also being a club frees you from a certain censorship regulations. We're free to put on anything we want here. I don't think we abuse this freedom, but we are free to put on anything

Studs Terkel Talkin' to Jim Haynes, this remarkable, rather unique figure in London more than theatre, in London, world of the young today. Any other thoughts? One eighty-two -- By the way, suppose people drop by. They can enter?

Jim Haynes Yes, we, we we I think we're very welcoming. Anyone can enter, even though they're not members. We we allow anyone to be guests here for the first time and they can take out short memberships of up to, I think a month's duration, for a dollar a month is what we charge.

Studs Terkel One eighty-two Drury-Lane. Anything that, any base we haven't touched, Jim, in our talk about you and your idea that has become a reality?

Jim Haynes Well, the only other thing which is opening up a whole new areas is the newspaper, which I am, which I look on us as equally important as Arts Laboratory, because I'm I'm interested in world communications and

Studs Terkel This is the "International Times"

Jim Haynes Yeah, and I think that the paper has the potential of being a kind of communication to media for new ideas. All of, you know, all around the world.

Studs Terkel Since you mention that

Jim Haynes -- I mean, English language right now is like Latin was, in, you know, in the Middle Ages.

Studs Terkel "Franca lingua" of the world.

Jim Haynes It is the lingua of the world.

Studs Terkel Yeah Aas you say this, you're talking about this newspaper to which Jim is referring. Yesterday, lining up, the English phrase queuing up, for the Tate Gallery to see why the young, why the young are flocking to Lichtenstein, there were a couple of people selling the paper he's talking about. I thought I'd talk to one kid there, but he turned out to be French. You know? So there I was, but he did imply that someone else speaks English, so I could talk to her, selling it. But here it is, the international aspect you were talking about.

Jim Haynes Well, I I could show you letters that I've received, proably even right here. Here's one right here, which came from Santiago, Chile. And I get them from Korea, from France, all -- From America, from all over the place. And this is a 12-page letter, written half in Spanish, half -- about three quarters in Spanish, and three quarters in -- or one-quarter in English, which is all about the the paper.

Studs Terkel I see the Spanish, but I see right in the middle of the Spanish the words "Jim Haynes," this had the writer -- Oh, here somewhere I saw the name "Jim Haynes," so truly international is the word. Well, Jim, thank you very much for this, a couple of rewarding Sundays and some of the sidelights you're offering on this quiet, seemingly quiet afternoon for you.

Jim Haynes Thank you very

Studs Terkel Now, when does the busyness begin? When does your hectic -- This is your quiet -- Yeah.

Jim Haynes You said when you came in that you were in the apartment of, the flat of, in fact the, this is almost like a cell in many ways. I mean, it's a flat only as far as I'm concerned, I mean, the bed's down, and I'm in it, the rest of the time it's

Studs Terkel There's one room with paintings and with works, artworks, with books there, everything around and about, and a little heater, and a chair, and some flowers, and [phone rings] and the telephone call. [pause in recording] And that's the, a quiet day in the life of Jim Haynes, a young American who's now an Englishman, who has been living in London, and Arts Laboratory his place, and it's a place to to visit, certainly weekends. Well it's open Tuesday through Sunday at Drury Lane. It's the -- Obviously will be the gathering place for the curious young who come from various countries of the world, and he spoke of that paper, "International Times," that was being sold outside, I saw it sold during that queue-up for the Lichtenstein exhibition at the Tate Gallery the previous Sunday, a day before this particular conversation, and the paper he was talking about, and just in today's mail there was a new paper in New York called the "New York Seer," John Wilcock is the editor, former "East Village Other," there are many, as you know, Chicago has "The Seed," and they're underground papers, so-called, cropping up all over in all cities here and I would imagine in all large cities in all the societies of the world, just as there are underground filmmakers, the explosion among the young is occurring. Naturally, you there there are varieties of young as there are varieties of the elderly, but you pays your money and you takes your choice, and the young are saying the dough may be of less important, less importance than, the choice. I thought perhaps a song, I was looking for some song that might be the spirit of Haynes, the spirit of youth throughout the world. At the same time, there's a conflict. We know that the newly-emerging nations have to find their identity as nations before Jim's dream comes to pass. Yet the young seem to be leapfrogging over this particular need, too, so we live in a most fascinating time. I thought Kalle Freynik, whom I met in Hamburg last year, the young singer, rock singer and impresario, too, when he took me to the Star Club, that's where the Beatles made their debut for the German kids of Hamburg and many of the English singers are. Kalle had been, and probably still is, a disciple of Bob Dylan. Dylan has many disciples in various parts of the world, and he sang an album of songs, some Dylan, some others, some his own in German, but this his own song, "Ich Bin Ein Deutscher," it's really a take-off on nationalism, and this could be "Ich Bin Ein Sovietischer," or "Ich Bin Ein Americanischer," "Ich Bin Ein Pekingischer," anything you want to say, he's really taking off on nationalism. This happens to be Kalle doing it, though, in German. Here then, Kalle Freynik as a postscript to Jim Haynes.