Dear Tilda Swinton

To the actress - sorry, performance artist - contemplating lying in a glass coffin all day: don't, it'll be deadly dull for you and plain deadly for the rest of us

I know you're terribly busy preparing for your new show (oops, sorry, installation) at London's Serpentine Gallery, but there are still a couple of weeks to go and I have a suggestion. Get the hell out.

Acting is a dreadfully undignified profession at the best of times without you making difficulties for yourself by lying in state in a glass coffin eight hours a day. The Maybe, you call it. Maybe not. Equity members fought for years for statutory working practices without you lying about doing still-life performance art while demonstrating a lofty indifference to the odd cheese sandwich or loo break.

Unless you are one of the handful who idle away their days turning down choice leading roles, actors spend their time waiting for the phone to ring. In terms of the number of roles available, it's far worse for women and, all in all, it's no life for a grown-up. Small wonder that actors turn to creating their own work, but tell me, Tilda, is this the answer?

Many of us have sat through dire solo shows devoted to the minor scribblings of Bloomsbury blue-stockings and if I ever have to sit through another piece based on the life and death of Sylvia Plath, I shall scream, but both these alternatives seem like dramatic manna from heaven in comparison. It may stretch your bladder, but I fail to see how it will stretch you as an actor.

Oh, I forgot. Despite winning a Best Actress award for your terrifyingly beautiful Queen Isabella in Derek Jarman's Edward II or stretching everyone's ideas of gender in Orlando or Manfred Karge's powerful Man to Man, you're not an actress. Silly me, you're "a performer" and most of what you do is "deeply autobiographical", which sheds an interesting light on your magnificently flouncing Lady Ottoline Morrel in Jarman's Wittgenstein.

I saw one of your "performances". It was a special preview of Derek Jarman's The Garden, horribly early one morning. Prior to the screening, you and Derek sat at the side of the stage intoning the odd word to accompany what could loosely be described as "some dance" accompanied by a suitably impenetrable score. The cinema did a spectacular trade in snacks as the entire audience rediscovered the meaning of the word boredom. The net effect was to deal a death blow to the interestingly fragmented film. We'd already had our fill of fragmentary.

I can play post-modernism with the best of them and Snow White - the life and times of a woman who winds up in a glass casket - is a smart place to start. But don't you think you're going a bit too far? People will witter on about whether this is art but I, for one, do not care. Your press release tells us that it will be "a performance of epic proportions and contemplative beauty". It sounds to me like a waste of our time and your talent.

Yours regretfully,

David Benedict

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - SQL Server, T-SQL

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Data Analyst (SQL Server, T-SQL, data)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst...

Day In a Page

Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

How Etsy became a crafty little earner

The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

Don't fear the artichoke

Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
11 best men's socks

11 best men's socks

Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

Paul Scholes column

Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

Frank Warren's Ringside

Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

Khorasan is back in Syria

America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

On the campaign trail with Ukip

Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

Expect a rush on men's tights

Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

In the driving seat: Peter Kay

Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road