Yesterday’s talk ended with the fact that one of the main reasons for founding the Traverse was the freedom it allowed the “club” in Edinburgh.
Jim Haynes said this great thing yesterday about how the Traverse began because of three love affairs: Jim Haynes fell in love with a student, and then actress, Jane Quigley (later, on Broadway, Jane Alexander), Tom Mitchell being in love with a woman named Tamara, and Richard DeMarco and Jim’s love of art and desire to make art.
DeMarco said, “The idea of the Traverse was a club, where one could drink, not controlled by the Presbyterians. It was a time when things had to happen.”
Sean said, “One of the great attractions of it was there was no censorship.”
The story of getting the actual Traverse space was that Jim Haynes was demobbed in Edinburgh, and then sold his Volkswagen. He went to a junk shop with 300 pounds, and offered to buy the space from the woman that owned it. She sold it to him, and he turned this space into the bookshop that then became the foundation for the Traverse.
The Traverse Theatre was a membership-based club at first, and everyone was trying to sell membership. DeMarco, while teaching, sold memberships for 3,20 pounds (or 3,60 – it was a bit disupted) to seven hundred university students in order to make sure they had enough membership. Then, of course, the students came to the Traverse and were totally thrilled by what they were seeing.
Hearing about the beginnings of the Traverse was absolutely fascinating and inspiring – though the climate is different now, on almost every level, it shows that a passionate group truly dedicated to art can really change the artistic culture around them and create a lasting project and endeavor.