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Gilbert and Sullivan:
The Very Models

In Gilbert and Sullivan -- The Very Models, as D'Oyly Carte lies half-asleep, half-awake, Gilbert and Sullivan appear out of the shadows. Around D'Oyly Carte's bed, they start to act out their life together. D'Oyly Carte brings the men together to write a new comic opera. Neither Gilbert nor Sullivan has much enthusiasm, but with D'Oyly Carte promising much wealth, and their own theatre, The Savoy, they agree. After HMS Pinafore, their fourth success, they have found their style -- a perfect marriage of witty dialogue and infectious music. With The Mikado comes their masterpiece. Sadly, the relationship between the three men is very strained. Sullivan feels he is wasting his talents on comic operas about fairies and the like. Gilbert does not enjoy the collaboration, but is content with the wealth it brings him. D'Oyly Carte has his work cut out trying to keep the peace between the two lively and volatile personalities. When Queen Victoria knights Sullivan, Gilbert becomes deeply jealous, and feels his work is not appreciated. The two men can barely be civil to each other, and both spend more time arguing than writing new operas. Finally, D'Oyly Carte has had enough of their bickering and threatens to walk out. Realizing what they stand to lose, this brings Gilbert and Sullivan to their senses. They agree to write a new opera, a serious one to please Sullivan. Just as The Yeoman of the Guard is going well, Sullivan collapses from a heart attack. This illness leads to some sort of forgiveness and respect between the three men. They acknowledge some pride in the 14 operas they wrote over their 25 years together. As Gilbert and Sullivan fade into the darkness, D'Oyly Carte wonders whether their work will be remembered.

1998 Bare Boards Productions/Channel 4.

Through Channel 4 I've been privileged enough to use animation to convey hopefully, with fresh eyes, some of the passion I have long had for Shakespeare, kabuki, Greek tragedy, and, recently, Gilbert and Sullivan. To work with such source material, and with artists involved in these areas, has been a very real and rewarding pleasure.
-- Barry Purves

Written (with Wyn Davies from the works of Gilbert , Sullivan and D'Oyly Carte) directed and animated by Barry J.C. Purves.

Running Time:

16 minutes

Production:

Bare Boards Productions for Channel Four.


 

Barry Purves has been a frequent contributor to Animation World Magazine, starting with our very first issue in April, 1996 when he contributed "The Emperor's New Clothes." In February of 1998, he continued his thoughts on puppet animation vs. computer animation with "Boldly Throwing Down the Gauntlet." In addition, Animation World Magazine chronicled the entire production of Gilbert and Sullivan -- The Very Models by publishing nine months worth of Barry's personal diaries in the issues spanning June 1998 to February 1999. Start reading with "Here's A How de do Diary: March" in the June issue. Then you can keep right on reading with:

   
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