A Long Wait for Radical History

A Long Wait for Radical History

My personal projects always seem to take ages to get off the ground. I suppose this is because all the work that leads up to getting funding has to happen in the gaps between everything else, not least designing shows for other people. Which I love doing and I get paid for. I’m not complaining. Still, getting a project underway takes a while and this one is taking even longer.

I had the idea for a project about English radical history around eight years ago, I think. At any rate, it was while I was directing A Place at the Table. Our stage manager at the time, Peter Barnett, was another fan of folk music. I remember discussing the exciting new idea with him, so I can roughly date it. This was also roughly around the same time as the Black Smock Band emerged from a series of gay folk nights in Vauxhall. A lot has happened since, with the far right seemingly in the ascendent, but even then it felt as though the narrative of dissent and radicalism in English history needed a bit of rescuing, from all that nonsense about how the Empire wasn’t so bad really and migrants are ruining our way of life. (Quite how you can hold both beliefs at once I don’t know. Anyway.) A major part of what we do as a band is explore the links between then and now, often updating traditional songs to explore their resonances to our contemporary social or political situation. Oh and making them less bloody heteronormative. It made sense to bring these two things – the band and the idea of a performance around English radical history – together. Continue reading

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BNC Arts Week: How It All Began

BNC Arts Week: How It All Began

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 Big Interview … Paul Burgess

The Big Interview … Paul Burgess

What’s On Stage, 14 April 2009: The Big Interview … Paul Burgess

Daedalus Theatre Company’s A Place at the Table, looking at the repercussions of the assassination of Burundi’s President Ndadaye in 1993, opens this week at the Camden People’s Theatre (15 April to 2 May). Katie Blemler recently caught up with the show’s director/designer/producer Paul Burgess to find out more.

Could you give us a brief history of the events that occurred directly following President Ndadaye’s assassination? 

President Ndadaye won the 1993 election. He represented the Hutu majority. But he was killed by the Tutsi military elite who wanted to hold on to power. This led to reprisals against Tutsis and a cycle of violence which evolved into civil war. Our play looks mainly at the coup and its immediate aftermath, including the Kimiba massacre where many school children were burned to death.

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