As Sally Potter travels around the world with 'YES'
she is keeping a diary exclusively for this web site
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Politics is everywhere

Speaking and Listening

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I am writing this in the early hours of the morning as the light comes up over the Chicago skyline – it looks like it is going to be a beautiful day - and will begin a press junket here in the hotel in a couple of hours time. I am still bathed in some of the glow of last night’s event, a benefit screening of YES for the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. It was good to see Joan amongst many of her friends and colleagues from her formative days in the company. I have heard her speak warmly and respectfully, on many occasions, about the company, its work, and her time there.

Joan and I were interviewed on stage afterwards by Roger Ebert (who watched the film for an amazing third time). His enthusiasm is one to be cherished, the kind one drinks-in like nectar, given his stature as a critic and the sheer volume and range of his viewing experience which provides the knowledgeable context for his opinions. I love the fact that he trusts his own experience and instinct, too, and never follows the pack of critical opinion. He noted that when he looked back over his notes from an interview he did with Joan and me in Toronto, he had never once mentioned the language or the rhymes. For him, as so many members of the audience, it would seem, the language seemed entirely natural.

It is such a vindication for me – and for all of those who worked on the film with such dedication - that the very things that so many financiers found scary and to be avoided at all costs – the verse, and the politics – are precisely the aspects of the film that people seem to find the most exciting. Audiences, it would seem, are ahead of the game, eager and bold. And Roger has not forgotten how to be an audience himself, despite often seeing three or more films a day. He does not patronize ‘them’ out there, but shares his views and insights with a fresh zest. He also declared that the scene in the restaurant, where something is going on under the table between ‘He and ‘She’, to be the most erotic scene on film he could remember, perhaps precisely because nothing is shown but everything is implied.

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Chicago airport

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With Joan and Roger Ebert

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Steppenwolf Q&A

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Sex in the restaurant

Text © Sally Potter. All pictures © Adventure Pictures unless otherwise indicated