Article from Parish Magazine of St John-at-Hampstead
June 2006

 

7/7 and the Ides of March

"Do evil that good may come, and see what does come!"
Harley Granville Barker, Preface to Julius Caesar

Wednesday had been a tiring day. It had been exhilarating at work, celebrating in a Kensington pub London's successful 2012 Olympics bid. It was draining in the evening - a long rehearsal followed by after-hours Guinness in The Flask with my mother Pat. So the next day, after an early goodbye to Angela and having dropped off Matthew at Nursery, I sat wearily on the tube and looked again at my Julius Caesar script.

It is the bright day that brings forth the adder,
And that craves wary walking.
(Brutus, Julius Caesar II.i)

The Circle Line tube left Edgware Road Station. It was 8:50am. I was 10 minutes from work. And a week from our opening night. However it was the 7th July, and I was a few feet away from a man with a bomb.

Fates, we will know your pleasures.
That we shall die we know; 'tis but the time
And drawing days out, that men stand upon.
(Brutus, Julius Caesar III.i]

In the blackness of the shattered carriage, after removing someone's dead arm from my ruined left leg, I willed myself to live - for Angela, for Matthew, for my family… and for Julius Caesar! Thanks to the skill and diligence of the medical teams and the love and support of many people, I survived, and I am very humbled.

The explosion had felt like an assassination. Julius Caesar, when asked what sort of death he preferred, is reputed to have replied: "an unexpected one". My experience on 7/7 increased my understanding of the play's themes and characters. From my hospital bed, I dictated some rather fierce notes for Angela and Mum to pass on to the cast before their tribute reading of the play on the 16th July.

Nearly a year later, I am recovering well, although I have been left with Tinnitus and a Prosthesis, which sound like two characters in the play!

There has been much talk recently regarding ways of commemorating the 7/7 anniversary. I always knew there could only be one way for me. I am grateful to the church, the Players, and the original cast and crew (with some new additions), for making it possible for us to bring Julius Caesar to fruition from the 6th to 8th July as part of the 30th Anniversary programme of the Hampstead Players. We shall also be taking the play to south-west France in early August. I wish to extend a special thank you to Bill Risebero who is assisting with the direction.
I am more an antique Roman than a Dane. (Horatio, Hamlet V.ii)

We produced our first summer Shakespeare play in 2001 - Hamlet - which I directed. Julius Caesar is believed to have been written immediately before Hamlet and performed at The Globe in the summer of 1599.

As I reach Shakespeare's age at his death - like Cassius in Julius Caesar he died on his birthday - I reflect on the changes I have experienced in the years since Hamlet 2001: marriage, fatherhood, unemployment and near-death.

Over this time, I have been accompanied and uplifted by Shakespeare and the church. I am very happy for us to have this opportunity to perform Julius Caesar at St. John's. It marks an important anniversary for me personally, and a fresh chapter. I hope that many of you will be able to come.

The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. (Romans 13:12)

David Gardner