From the New York Post Online
By JAMIE SCHRAM
8 May 2005
Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” released in 1979, combined a symphonic blast of classic rock with a storyline about alienation, war and the life of an English schoolboy. It spent 15 weeks at No.1 on the U.S. charts.
Then, in 1982, director Alan Parker turned “The Wall” into a feature film starring Bob Geldof as the turbulent, burned-out rock star “Pink.” The story followed Pink as he descended into madness while alienating the rest of the world by building a wall around him brick by brick.
Now, more than two decades later, “The Wall” is returning, but this time to the Broadway stage. Last year, Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein and former Sony music chief Tommy Mottola inked a deal with Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters to produce a play based on “The Wall.”
Mottola said it was “too premature” to know when “The Wall” would hit the stage, but said he’d like to hire a director within a year. Waters is currently working on the stage adaptation.
On Tuesday, The Post conducted an exclusive phone interview with the British-born Waters, who talked about how he’d like to bring out the funny side of Pink.
Q:Whose idea was it to bring “The Wall” to Broadway?
A:Well, I was approached by Harvey Weinstein and Tommy Mottola last summer. So I went and had a meeting with them in New York. I had been toying with the idea for a number of years. I think Harvey had been wanting to get into Broadway production for some time. I think they’d been investing in Broadway shows for some time. Harvey is a music guy. I believe his original background is in radio in Albany. He comes from a rock ‘n’ roll background.
Q:What is “The Wall” about?
A:It’s about a sort of self-imposed alienation. It’s about being too frightened to open up to other people. It’s about how fear alienates us from our fellow man. It’s largely autobiographical. On the record and in the movie, I have borrowed from other people’s lives. There’s a bit of Syd Barrett in there. (Barrett was the drug-addled, co-founder of Pink Floyd who was kicked out of the band in the late ’60s due to his increasingly odd behavior.) I don’t remember throwing a TV out of a window (as in the film). That’s something out of Led Zeppelin.
Q:After the success of the movie and the album, why did you decide to take “The Wall” to Broadway?
A:My motivation is primarily that both the record and film, proud of them as I am, well, they have depth. They endure. There are no laughs anywhere. There are not many jokes. Humor is very important part of my life. I think it’s a part of the life of the central character in the film, Pink. There will be a lot more humor in the Broadway version.
Q:What are the differences between the play and the film?
A:I don’t think the play will be anything like the film. A situation where you have live music is quite different from sitting in a cinema. I have been writing episodically. I have been trying to get some humor off my chest. I have been talking with Adrian Noble to direct. He was a director of the royal Shakespeare. He directed “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” in London. Another person involved is a young English writer Lee Hall. Lee Hall is helping me write. He has written a lot for radio in England. He has written a number of plays.
Q:Who are going to be the actors?
A:I haven’t the faintest idea. I haven’t even begun to think of casting. The first thing is to get down the story.
Q:What songs are you going to perform?
A:Well, I would think most of the songs off “The Wall.” And some of the other songs: “Money” and “Have a Cigar.”
Q:Are you going to play any of your early songs like those featured in (the 1972 concert film) “Pink Floyd at Pompeii”?
A: I kind of doubt it. If you were watching, there is a little scene where Adrian Maben, the director, asked me, “What is the music about?” I’m really stoned. I’m just looking at him for a long time. I said, “What do you mean about?” I take a drag from my cigarette. I am refusing to be interviewed. It’s sort of weird humor. That’s the guy (Pink) I want people to see in the theater – sort of a strange Englishness about the character. It’s a sort of particular English humor.
Q:When is the play going to open, and at what theater? A:No idea. We are just trying to find the heart and soul of the story. The music we know is powerful. That’s a given. I will really want to make the audience laugh. Q:Are you trying to take the story in another direction?
A:I don’t think we’re trying to take “The Wall” into a total different direction. I think we’re trying to illuminate another side of Pink’s personality. He was kind of hard to empathize with in the movie. And if you can’t empathize with him, he can’t help you to understand life.
Q:Are there going to be any special effects?
A:I would think it would be extremely unlikely that there won’t be. And when you are permanent in the theater, it gives you time to get it right. I am really excited about that – to stay in one place and to get the lighting and the special effects really perfect.
Q: How do you think the production is going to turn out?
A:I’m trying not to think about it. You get into a whole bunch of questions. First of all, we need to see it in black-and-white on the page. We are right in the middle of doing the work right now. Maybe about halfway there. Yeah, some of it makes me laugh.
Q:Can you tell me something about the material?
A:No, I don’t want to give away anything.
Q:Are you nervous about the production?
A:Of course I am. Yeah, of course I am nervous. It’s a conundrum. There are a lot of very, very difficult questions that need to be answered whether people are going to see it or not. We can’t just reproduce what people already know. It would be dull. That would just be a purely commercial venture. But to give it new life by bringing humor to it will make it more palatable for the theater. I think the message – what “The Wall” is saying to us – is still important to us 20 years later.
Q:Are any of your former bandmates contributing to the project?
A:No, they are not.
Q:Are you in touch with any of your former bandmates?
A: I had dinner with Nick (Mason) recently. He was in New York doing a book signing. We’ve rekindled our friendship. I’m very happy about that. I never see Dave (Gilmour) or Rick (Wright). We have very little in common.
Q:Are you going to be living in New York during production of “The Wall”?
A:I will be spending a lot of time in Manhattan. I already spent a lot of time there.