anything for john


In November 1970, Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud arrived on Broadway with their play “Home,” and Ralph actually agreed to cooperate with publicity interviews.  One of the best was on the CBS television program “Camera 3,” and Ralph likely agreed because the interview was conducted by producer Alexander Cohen, who brought the play to Broadway.  The complete 30-minute interview is not available online but the transcript is on the web.  

The program begins with the Sirs taking turns to read favorite poems, then Cohen asks Ralph to define acting.  Ralph responds by praising his friend Johnny, and reminding everyone about his failure in Macbeth.

Sir Ralph:  “Oh dear.  That’s a big subject to define acting.  Well, I’d say this about it, that acting is make-believe and make-believe, you’ve got to believe it yourself part of the time.  An actor doesn’t believe what he’s doing all of the time, but some of the time he must really dream it.  It is, in a way, dreaming to order.  It is daydreaming to order.  If you don’t believe it yourself, you’ll never succeed in making anyone else believe it.

“Well, that is the heart of the matter, I believe.  And an actor can be described in scale, perhaps in the size and the reach of the dreams that he is capable of making  Now, my friend here on my left [motioning to Sir John], we don’t very often pay each other elaborate compliments.  It would be a pretty sticky thing if we did because we’ve acted together for so many years.  But I’d like to say this about John Gielgud, what makes him, to my mind, one of the finest actors living, is the size, and scope, and range of his daydreams.  He’s able to reach easily, naturally and simply because he believes them.  Some of the greatest dramatic poems conceived by mankind are the great dramatic poems of Shakespeare.  When in Richard II, Johnny says, ‘Bring me a looking glass that I may see my face,’ it is as natural as if he were to say, ‘I’ve come to read the gas meter.’  It is absolutely true, he is alive absolutely truly and a very great poet.

“I’ve tried myself to achieve one or two of these great poems.  I’m incapable of achieving them.  Perhaps in comedy a little bit, but in tragedy, not at all,  Though I can read them and be moved by them in reading I think as much as anybody.  I tried to play Macbeth under Johnny’s direction.  It was a disaster, it was terrible. ‘Is this a dagger that I see before me?’  I didn’t see the dagger, neither did anybody else.  But Johnny perceived and saw his looking glass, and all the rest in scale of the several magnificent poetic creations that he’s made.

“That’s about as much flattery that we’re going to do for each other (laughter).  That’ll last us for a long time.  However much I admire you, Johnny.  Now, I’ve talked a hell of a long time, you say something….”

John Gielgud takes over and shares some thoughts about Ralph:

Sir John:  “I can pay him some compliments now. Ralph is a wonderfully constructive man and he acts with enormous craftsmanship.  He loves the craftsmanship of acting just as if he had been a carpenter he would have loved working in wood or he’d been a clockmaker he would have enjoyed all the wheels going round or he’d been a musician he would have enjoyed the quality of the violin he was playing.  He has an enormous appreciation of material, which he is working with it as his own voice, his own plastique.”  

When I wonder if I am actually teaching students anything at all

A few days over the horizon just waiting for us.

Literally just all the sexual things Alexander Hamilton sent to John Laurens

“I love you.”

This one is pretty self explanatory. Men were much more intimate back in the 1700′s, forming bonds that seem very ~gay~ in today’s light. Homosexuality wasn’t a very understood thing back then because rigid moral codes and censured education prevented people from learning more about sexuality.

 But Alexander Hamilton knew.

 He grew up on an island where ‘Sodomites’ (gay people) were dumped and  allowed to mingle with the island population. Alex knew that there was a certain zone of interactions between men that went from being merely friendly to sexual. He clearly steps into the bounds of sexual while fully realizing it.

“In drawing my picture, you will no doubt be civil to your friend; mind you do justice to the length of my nose and don’t forget, that I [- - - - - -].”

Ahhhhhhhhh my son Alex, could you be more explicit? Alex here is obviously referring to his something else (you know) with the knowledge that John Lauren’s knows the size. This sentence right here is basically just one long ;).

 “Your friend” seems to be written teasingly, as if they both know how far from friends they are.

And we can only guess how dirty Alex got in those last six  CUT OUT words.

“Dear Boy” [sent by John Laurens]

John laurens calls his wife his ‘dear girl’, and here he calls Alex his ‘dear boy’.  Moreover, Laurens did not call any other man he ever wrote to as his ‘dear boy’. Laurens seems to see Alex as on the same level, if not higher, as his own wife.

“Did I mean to show my wit? If I did, I am sure I have missed my aim. Did I only intend to [frisk]? In this I have succeeded, but I have done more. I have gratified my feelings, by lengthening out the only kind of intercourse now in my power with my friend.”

This phrase right here I unfortunately do not see a lot when people talk about Alex and John’s letters. This, to me, is one of the most explicit. “Wit” also mean one’s you know what (here I give a nod to the Ravenclaw moto), so Hamilton’s saying he was pretty much just messing around with John the last letter he sent. This is the only sort of “intercourse” he is able to have with John, as they are both so far apart. He is incapable of ‘sexual’ intercourse because of their distance, so he feels he must, in the 18th century way, sext.

“I would invite you after the fall to Albany to be witness to the final consummation.”

As you might have already guessed, Alex is inviting John to a threesome on his wedding night. The idea that Alex feels so at ease inviting John to a threesome with his wife suggests they have already had something going for a long time now. 

“But like a jealous lover, when I thought you slighted my caresses, my affection was alarmed and my vanity piqued. I had almost resolved to lavish no more of them upon you and to reject you as an inconstant and an ungrateful –”

Here Alex compares himself to John’s lover, and a jealous one at that. John seems to be shying away from Alex’s bawdiness, as if realizing how strange their relationships is in retrospect. Alex is scrambling to hang on to him, even though he knows well what are and what happens to Sodomites. He would do anything for John while knowing the consequences. And John is too afraid to join him. And who the hell knows what the last word was.

“And believe me, I am lover in earnest,”

*cough cough* looks like John knows exactly what happens when Alex’s feeling frisky.

“She [Eliza] loves you a l'americaine not a la francoise.”

The French were renowned for their relaxed stance on extramarital love affairs, while Americans were more Puritan-minding and thought love affairs only should happen in church-sanctioned marriages. Thus Eliza has an a l’americaine love of John Laurens, rather than an a la francoise.

“You will be pleased to recollect in your negotiations that I have no invincible antipathy to the maidenly beauties & that I am willing to take the trouble of them upon myself.”

*cough* this sentence is a bit confusing, and could be taken a few ways. What I infer from this is that Alexander Hamilton is willing, and John knows this, to assume an air of femininity because he finds no fault with it. It was commonly noted by people who wrote of Hamilton that he was very feminine in comparison with other men of his day. Alex’s femininity seems to please John, the topic even having been discussed between the two in ‘negotiations’.

“My ravings are for your own bosom” Alex desperately misses Laurens’ intimate contact in a way that, in my opinion, could never be mistaken as simply friendship. Alex literally wants to be held by John. How fucking heartbreaking is that.

“Yrs for ever”

Ok, this one isn’t sexual, but I had to add it because it is so heartbreaking. This was Alex’s last farewell note to John. That is, if he even received it. He died shortly after Alex sent the letter; whether he read the farewell or not is all lost to history. Alex loved John so much, despite the fact that both already had a wife. He would have always loved him, even if they had grown apart…

That’s it folks: time for me to cry.

  • Alex: Oh, do me a favor, peel this apple for me, please.
  • John: No, no, I’m not gonna peel an apple for you.
  • Alex: But Herc always does it for me.
  • John: Why does Herc peel your apples for you?
  • Alex: He doesn’t like for me to eat the apples with the skin on it, he says the skin’s loaded with toxins.
  • John: Okay, well, good news - Herc's not here.
  • Alex: I know he's not here and that’s why I need you to do it for me. PLEASE, PLEASE.
  • John: Oh Jesus, just eat it with the skin on it.
  • Alex: I do not LIKE IT with the skin, John. I'm not ALLOWED to eat it with the skin, I'm not ALLOWED!
  • John: OH MY GOD, all right. If you just shut up, I will peel the apple for you the way Herc likes you to eat it! Give it to me, give it to me! I’ll do it the way Herc insists, okay?