Pierrot in Turquoise, or The Looking Glass Murders


A final Bowie post included here as much for its connections to Derek Jarman. Pierrot in Turquoise was a pantomime by Lindsay Kemp based on the characters of the Commedia dell’arte, and broadcast by Scottish Television in 1970. David Bowie is “Cloud”, a non-commedia character who provides songs while perched atop a step-ladder. The smaller independent TV stations like Scottish often used to fill out their end-of-day programming with oddities such as this, the kind of thing that would have been screened once to a bewildered audience then forgotten.

Kemp’s production reverses some of the commedia traditions by having his Pierrot challenge Jack Birkett’s Harlequin, the exchange of roles taking place after a Cocteau-like journey through a mirror. Pierrot lacks a hat but otherwise his costume resembles the one that Bowie wore in the Ashes to Ashes video. Two years and a gulf of reinvention separate this little pantomime from Kemp and Bowie’s next encounter in Mick Rock’s video for John, I’m Only Dancing, a film the BBC found too weird and/or queer, and refused to show.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Flowers: A Pantomime for Jean Genet
Lindsay Kemp’s Salomé again

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