Film Section: GOODBYE SPAULDING GRAY
By David Hatchett
Cadence can animate the words and enliven them for the audience. Spaulding Gray was a master of cadence. He took the listener for a joyride with the way they heard every word. He turned story telling into a movie that screened in the open mind. His amused conversational manner using pauses to allow for the easy retrieval of complete thoughts, defined and mastered the art of story telling. It was his pop delivery that allowed him to breakdown the barriers between ‘high art’ and popular culture.
Using the most basic props, a table, lamp, chair and a glass of water, Spaulding Gray was able to create a one-person theatre that could rivet an audience. He could play to both the camera and the live audience. In this way, the pieces come together to turn monologue into cinema: Swimming To Cambodia became a seminal cinematic event. In a fast cut, short attention-span culture, the art of story telling hardly fits the demands of the movie going audience that is more accustomed to imagery played out on the big screen than to imagery played only in the mind. Spaulding Gray made the break through. He made a popular movie out of the simple act of storytelling. He said of his work, "I am cutting and pasting memories." His recent death has left us with a wealth of his memories, there is never enough.