On Maimon, ON

Letter from America No. VI

Text:  Maimon


Photography:  Georgia Oetker 




Maimon was the Musical Director for ‘Rounding Shakespeare’ and, as such, not only played the music for those songs which had previously been composed by LSW’s resident Musical Director, Tim Williams, – who died before Rounding Shakespeare was conceived – but also completely underscored the production off his own bat and composed two original pieces: ‘Kingdoms are but Cares’ (lyric by the historic Henry VI) and ‘Dance Me to the Ends of Love’.  


To make this feat under the most challenging of circumstances even more impressive is the fact that he largely composed his brilliant score on an 88 key cardboard cut out that he himself made.  He would only have access to a ‘real’ – albeit electronic – piano in the performance facility itself.  He also took charge of all the printed orchestrations.  I should perhaps point out he did them all by hand after having been handed a stash of blank paper.    


Maimon additionally arranged for, managed and rehearsed a seven piece band – prisoners all.  They were wonderful.  While the audience was being searched and then moved in groups into our performance space that band – with Maimon conducting from the keyboard – played swing.  I can tell you that  joint was jumpin’ nightly.  The audience was dancing with the inmates.  Given that we were based in what had been a WW II Air Force facility it seemed only right somehow.  Certainly it was one occasion in a prison when I didn’t mind being instructed that the audience movements would take somewhat longer than expected.  Nor I noticed did anyone else.  Indeed I sometimes felt that I didn’t want to interrupt the party.  Everyone – including me – was having THAT good of a time.

I had received a commitment from Maimon to fulfil this role prior to my arrival for rehearsals in California and was surprised one evening early in my stay to l
earn that an officer called and, in answer to my question concerning Maimon’s absence, quoted him as saying that he ‘was not available that evening or any other evening’.  


That officer – following just a little persuasion it has to be said – kindly arranged a conversation for me with Maimon the next day.  I remember being escorted by a bevy of officers into a small wooden hut from one end – and Maimon being paraded in – handcuffed – by yet another bevy of officers from the other.  It was done with military precision.  It was as if Henry II was meeting Thomas à Becket on the beach.  They did everything but salute.  The two of us sat in chairs facing each other at a more than social distance such as today might well be applauded. The officers would stay in place throughout.  Their concern for our (and I do realise it was probably largely my) overall well-being was obvious.  As it happily turned out, that concern was really unnecessary.  Maimon not only agreed and fulfilled his role, but did so with complete commitment and to stunningly brilliant effect!  One multi-Oscar winning notable – on attendance – called him ‘a genius’.  I heartily concur.  


On, Maimon.  ON!  


London Shakespeare Workout LSW Prison Project

Dear Dr.Wall,


I hope this letter finds you well and in good spirits.  Life has slowed to a crawl since your departure, and your colourful enthusiasm has been missed.


I’ve pondered some of the feelings and experiences I had while under your tutelage.


I doubted my ability to accomplish what I said I would do, and found myself completely unmotivated to even try.  Had you not contested my negativity, I would have had my name blotted from your script.


Your faith in me sparked my interest anew, and began what was to be an unforgettable experience.


Throughout the production, your enthusiasm was contagious giving ‘the lads’ and me fuel to carry on, each day believing more in ourselves and our abilities.  Your working against the system was instrumental in gaining our admittance, not to a play, but to a higher level of understanding – that we have in us innate stores of potential talent and, when exposed, can bring us soaring past the limited horizon stigmatized upon us by society and the negativity that surrounds us each and every day.


My heartfelt gratitude goes out to you and those behind the scenes at LSW.  I have had a genuine feeling of accomplishment since the play and often stop and reminisce with others.  We realised that all of us have gained an immovable sense of pride in our own accomplishments.


I consider it an honor and a privilege to have been part of this production and look forward to any future involvement I may have with the London Shakespeare Workout.


Most sincerely and gratefully yours,


London Shakespeare Workout LSW Prison Project

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Maimon please click here.

Ms. Oetker please click here.