I feel as though I should write something personal to explain why I’m so hurt and bewildered by what has just happened. Especially since plenty of people seem to think folks like me should shut up. In the lead-up to the vote I focused on facts; on the direct disadvantages of leaving and the possible political consequences. I didn’t make it personal; I’m involved with politics because I care about our country and the wider world. I would never normally make the kind of argument I’m about to make now. I’m even going to try, for once, to resist discussing the bigger implications. But these are exceptional times.
Firstly, however, let’s remind ourselves that this wasn’t an election for politicians who can do only limited damage over only a limited period; it was a decision with massive, long-term ramifications. These are not only political. Many of the consequences put severe limits on our personal freedoms; so for those of us who embraced those freedoms, the decision to leave the EU restricts the way we live our lives and, as I’m going to argue, is a kind of censoring of the way we see ourselves. Continue reading
I’ve tended to be quite ambivalent about the EU in the past. But I now find myself pretty passionate about staying in. I wanted to articulate why.
One thing to get out of the way first. If conventional economics are your thing then the economic arguments for the UK staying in the UK are overwhelming. Even som’eone without much economic expertise – like our Chancellor, say – can see that. Conventional economics is clearly a load of cobblers though. Look at what a complete mess it’s making of, well, everything; it’s a mix of ideology (the invisible hand of the market will work for the common good? Yeah, right!), guesswork (cos trickledown will definitely happen) and a ridiculously unscientific attitude to growth and the planet’s resources. So I’m moving on to the more serious stuff right away. Continue reading
This is something I’ve been working on for a while. It has come out of the East storytelling project, which brings together a fantastic group of people from all sorts of backgrounds to share stories and songs. We decided to create an online archive of our material and then open it up to others who might like to add to it (get in touch if you’d like to contribute).
Anyway, we’re still adding to it and improving it (the tagging system will be more detailed for one thing) but it’s live now and we had an official launch last night to celebrate. So come and have a look! Continue reading
A few months ago I saw, in the space of a week, Katie Mitchell’s production of Sarah Kane’s Cleansed and the blockbuster movie Deadpool. The juxtaposition got me thinking. Of these two events, the live one was essentially a fourth wall play (we’ll come back that vexed issue) which uses extreme violence in way that offers a (deliberately) highly problematised take on catharsis. The prerecorded one also challenges us (or thinks it does) with the way it shows violence but is obsessed – paradoxically, I suppose – with breaking the fourth wall.
I have to get something off my chest, sorry. At one point in Deadpool, the eponymous hero addresses us directly, which leads into a story, in which he also addresses us directly. A fourth wall inside a fourth wall: that’s sixteen walls, he calculates. No it isn’t. Why would it be four squared? It’s clearly a concentric construction; four walls within four walls. Eight walls. Continue reading
Since this has now been published in Brazen Notes, a newsletter that goes out to all Brasenose College (BNC) alumni, I think it’s OK for me to share here. It includes contributions from three of my BNC contemporaries: Liz Owen, Mia Bennett and Rikesh Shah. So, here it is: how BNC’s now well-established Arts Week began…
It’s hard to believe, but Arts Week, in some form or other, has been going for twenty-one years. This realisation made some of us who were involved in its first incarnation look back at how it started.
I was part of a keen group of theatre-makers that first came up to BNC in 1993. When we arrived, however, there wasn’t much theatre happening in college. Brasenose Players rarely staged its own productions. In fact, the idea of the college being a home to drama would have seemed absurd to many; the stereotype was that it was all rugby and rowing. So, when we decided to set up an arts festival to take place in Trinity of our first year, the initial hurdle for us was to get our idea to be taken seriously. Continue reading
The arts give society a space to think. Without them we are a golem: a figure of clay, subject to its master’s command, and deprived of the imaginative space necessary to relate meaningful to others and function in society.
OK. That’s an analogy with which you may or may not agree. It’s fairly useful as away to explain an idea that I personally find interesting. On the one hand, it’s way too reductive to be truthful in any philosophically helpful sense. It’s only of very limited use in explaining our need for the arts. Continue reading
(Originally published in Blue Pages, the journal of The Society of British Theatre Designers)
In 1979 my mum was running the art gallery at Harlow Playhouse, I was very small (but apparently not too small to be captivated by theatre models) and the UK won the Golden Triga at the Prague Quadrennial. Three and a half decades later I find myself organising a display of theatre design in the same town and meeting a new generation of young people. But we’ll have to wait until later in the year before we know about the Golden Triga.
A post-war new town, Harlow has a remarkable history of civic cultural activity; when it was founded it even had its own string quartet. Its single most notable aspect is the sculpture collection, and Harlow was recently given the official title of “Sculpture Town”. It’s even on the signs as you drive in. Harlow’s arts scene was greatly diminished in the late 80s and 90s, mainly because of rate-capping, and for a while it was without an art gallery. It also lost its iconic 1950s Town Hall, designed by the town’s master planner, Sir Frederic Gibberd. The replacement building is architecturally bland but does house a fantastic exhibition space. Continue reading