Published: 27/05/2014 12:04 - Updated: 27/05/2014 12:20

Lord of The Flies cast members separated by half a century meet in Inverness

Tom Gaman with the Esden Court cast of 'Lord of The Flies'. Photo: Alison White.
Tom Gaman with the Esden Court cast of 'Lord of The Flies'. Photo: Alison White.

A 50-year gap between stage and screen versions of Lord of The Flies was closed in Inverness when the young cast of Matthew Bourne’s dance adaptation met a veteran of the first film version of William Golding’s classic novel.

Tom Gaman, who played the timid but compassionate Simon in the 1963 film release directed by acclaimed British theatrical director Peter Brook, lives in Inverness — but Inverness, California, not the Scottish original.

Together with his wife Barbara, he was touring the Highlands as part of his three month UK vacation when he saw posters for leading choreographer Bourne’s take on the story of a group of schoolboys marooned on a tropical island who descend into savagery and superstition.

Although Tom and Barbara’s tour means that they will miss the show’s four night Inverness run, which begins tomorrow, he was able to call into Eden Court to meet the cast of professionals and young local dancers — with one exception.

Layton Williams, this version’s Simon was at an audition in London when Mr Gaman came to watch the cast in rehearsal.

Unlike some of this production’s "schoolboys", who are looking on the production as a first step towards a professional stage career, Mr Gaman’s film appearance was his first and last acting role.

"There were other opportunities, but my father didn’t like the idea," explained Mr Gaman, who went on to pursue a career in forestry instead.

"The reason I was in the film was that my parents were British, but I was an 11-year old living in the USA and the producers were looking for British boys living in the New York/New Jersey area who could go to Puerto Rico in the summer and make this film.

"I went to audition and I think they were desperate, but they said: ‘Would you like to be in a film?’ So the next Monday I got on an airplane with 35 other boys and they took us off to Vieques Island, just off Puerto Rico, and put us up in an abandoned converted pineapple canning factory while we made the film.

"It was a pretty special experience. You felt you were doing something important."

Although filming took place in 1961, the film was not released until 1963.

"It took two years to cut and splice together the footage and they made two or three different versions before they decided which one they were going to release," Mr Gaman said.

And the producers had plenty of footage to choose from.

"Someone would forget a line or have a flashlight go off in their pocket and we would have to start all over again," he said.

"Some of the scenes were shot 25 times. Others were completely improvised."

Half a century on, Mr Gaman still receives regular reminders of his part in the film.

"Simon was quite a mystical character," he said.

"I actually get quite a few emails about him from people from all over the world — some from people who still think I’m an 11-year old boy!"

Lord of The Flies is at the Empire Theatre, Eden Court from Wednesday until Saturday.

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