Friday 24 February 2023

A lasting picture of struggle and resilience: a new live version of Derek Jarman's Blue to commemorate the film's 30th anniversary


Derek Jarman's final film, BLUE, was completed in May 1993, just months before his death. A response to the onset of blindness as a result of his battle with HIV, the film presents an unchanging screen of celestial blue accompanied by voices which deliver a collage of fragments from Jarman's diary, describing the gradual onset of blindness, and as his daily life is stripped away, only the essentials remain.

To celebrate the film's 30th anniversary, Neil Bartlett is directing a new live version of the film, the production is being presented by WeTransfer,  with performances at Brighton’s Theatre Royal as part of Brighton Festival, Turner Contemporary in Margate, HOME in Manchester and Tate Modern in London.

For the live performances, four actors will deliver Jarman's words, activist and art collector Russell Tovey, Travis Alabanza, Jay Bernard, and TS Eliot award-winning poet and acclaimed spoken word performer Joelle Taylor, whilst the film's original composer Simon Fisher Turner will accompany them with a new live score.

Created at the height of the AIDS epidemic, BLUE is a testament not just to Jarman's remarkable courage but also to the rage and loss of an entire generation. Revisiting the piece now creates an opportunity to both revisit the pioneering contribution of the LGBTQI+ community to national life over 30 years and how different generations have dealt with the trauma of the AIDS epidemic. It paints a lasting picture of struggle and resilience at a time when the whole world has been figuring out how to survive in the face of a global pandemic.

Blue Now is at the Brighton Festival (7 May 2023), Turner Contemporary, Margate (13 May), HOME Manchester (21 May) and Tate Modern (27 May).

As an addition to the live performances, WeTransfer has commissioned a digital iteration of BLUE NOW to appear on its arts platform WePresent. This version will not copy the original BLUE but instead pay tribute to the original artwork and its creator Derek Jarman through the words and voices of contemporary LGBTQIA+ artists. Since 2009, WeTransfer has donated up to 30% of its media inventory to artists and social causes, giving a platform to underrepresented voices within the creative community. Designed by WeTransfer’s creative studio, WePresent’s BLUE NOW content series will bring the legacy of this artwork to a large global audience where it will be accessible for free. 

Full details from the Fuel Theatre website.

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