Published on 2015-09-18 09:08
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
TONY LOOKS AT TRAGIC - AND FUNNY - SIDE OF DAD'S DEATH
SURREAL SITUATION: Tony Klinger
TONY Klinger's new play is set to debut next month - 26 years after he first came up with the idea.
A Tired Heart and The Big C is a tragic-comedy centred on Stuart Wagner, a Jewish family man plunged into the surreal world of traditional religious observance with hilarious results after the sudden death of his father.
It will premiere at The Castle Theatre, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, next month.
Tony said: "I started thinking about penning something centred around the tragic - and funny - aspects of death after my father died in 1989.
"I remember the total shock at someone so vigorous passing away, as well as the gallows' humour which followed.
"It is dealing with a situation on a prosaic level."
Tony, who has penned The Butterfly Boy and Under God's Table in the last two years, also drew on the death of his mother Lily - from oesophageal cancer - years later to complete A Tired Heart and The Big C.
"All the experiences in the play are real," he explained. "I find something in the Jewish experience of death which is funny and tragic, as well as unique.
"What also interested me is how we deal with death compared to the gentile world.
"Our formalities and traditions are so different, although the theme of love, loss and warmth is universal."
The play's premiere is taking place in Wellingborough, as Tony and wife Avrill live in nearby Northampton, taking care of her elderly parents.
"We are hoping to then take it around the country and to the West End," he continued.
Tony, who was raised all over London, ran a successful underground school magazine called Fanfare at his secondary school and, by the time he was 18, had developed scripts and produced small films.
When he was 19, he co-produced, directed and wrote The Festival Game, a documentary on the Cannes Film Festival.
Tony's father, Michael, produced the iconic British film Get Carter, starring Michael Caine, in 1971.
But it was father who followed son into the business, rather than the other way round.
He recalled: "My dad worked in Shepherds Bush market and was also an engineer.
"He was offered the chance to invest in a cinema which became known as the Compton. It was famous.
"But he soon realised that the distributors had a stranglehold over distribution, so he made films, including quite a few with naked people."
Michael turned his hand to more serious films and Tony was brought on board for Get Carter.
"Everybody involved with the film knew there was something special about it," he recalled.
"It took 37 weeks altogether to make, which just didn't happen then - films usually took years to put together."
Tony, who scouted some of the film's Newcastle locations, also found the flat which played a pivotal role in one of Get Carter's scenes.
He is making a documentary about his father, The Man Who Got Carter.
Tony went into pop promo films, the forerunners of pop videos, and was invited to make longer films with Deep Purple and The Who - with whom he made the seminal The Kids Are Alright.
"The Who were the best live band I had ever seen - but they had not played together for three years when we started work on the film," he said.
"We didn't have to convince them to do it."
And Tony described drummer Keith Moon, known for his hell-raising activities, as a "complete meshugger", but "enormously funny and charming".
Father-of-three Tony, who has been married to Avrill for almost 43 years, later wrote a book, Twilight of the Gods, about the making of The Kids are Alright.
And he made a number of documentaries, as well as running the BA Hons and MA film production courses at the Bournemouth and Northern film schools. He was also director of the University of East London's media production centre.
One of the documentaries Tony made, Full Circle, told the story of the sinking of the Israeli Sea Corps submarine, INS Dakar, which disappeared in 1968. Its wreckage was found in 1999.