As 2017 is analysed and filed away, Kath and I are busily sorting out 40+ years of archives, lofts, photos and our individual and shared lives as we reduce (a bit) what we plan to move to our new home in Edinburgh. At the end of January (lawyers and gods willing) we will be settling into a house in the castle village of Blackness on the banks of the Firth of Forth. We will continue to work in London, across the UK and Internationally. Until July I’ll be commuting to Mountview to guide the third contingent of MA Creative Producers to their masters festival, and then handing over as the school moves to Peckham. Kath will be directing 4 shows (so far) from her Edinburgh studio base, and I will be developing my practice in Scotland more than London.
This weekend it felt very fitting to reflect on 2017 whilst watching the massive sweep of Imperium Parts 1 and 2 at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Swan Theatre in Stratford on the 30th. Robert Harris’s trilogy of books brought to the stage by an impressive company of actors led by Richard McCabe as Cicero and his ever-present Dr Watson-like scribe, slave, and later freeman, Tiro played by Joseph Kloska. We were there to cheer the angry smelly voice of reason, Michael Grady-Hall, playing Cato. Proud dad watched son’s charismatic and powerful performance as he inhabited his 9th and 10th plays as an actor with the RSC.
The plays look at the sweep of power, the role of the people in appointing those who will guide us, lead us, oppress us, or vanquish us. It looks at a mighty nation’s waning power, and the shouty confusion when the leaders become rudderless. No wonder Greg Doran thought this would be a suitable exploration to bring to the stage. I wish it had seemed like old history, but it felt extraordinarily current. I’d be interested in knowing of companion plays which put the women more centre stage in this rather boys-own-world. Now I will head to the novels and maybe even some of the writings of Cicero.
As we start 2018 we can but hope that the aspiration for our world expressed by my CGO Associate Kate Reid comes true “Let only the kindest and wisest of voices make a difference in the world.” I despair of the lies and manipulation which has been perpetrated by those in power, or aspiring to power, on the people of this Country in the last 2 years. I despair of the tweet-fest which is the office of the president of the USA. And I am saddened by the continuing and growing need for charities like Refugee Community Kitchen to deliver the basic human needs which our governments seem unwilling to offer. Those in power are displaying characteristics that are neither “kind” nor “wise”. Something has to change.
For me, I am going to continue to raise my voice where I can. I will continue to offer coaching, support and cheering to those who use their skills in theatre and third sector to change hearts and minds, to inform, educate and entertain. I will continue to seek out the kindest and the wisest colleagues to help me with my work as a hyphen between ideas and practice, practitioner and practitioner, presenter and audience. And I will continue to buy National Lottery tickets in the hope that one day I will have a large chunk of funding so I can do so much more of all of this.
Dates for CGO Surgeries in London and Edinburgh are now on my website. Dates for the first Producers’ Pools of 2018 are there too, just awaiting venue confirmation. I have a wonderful array of coaching sessions to schedule within the pathmaker programme with the Authentic Artist Collective through the Spring, along with teaching at Mountview and working with the MA Creative Producers (in training and alums) to move their projects forward. There are proposals for CGO to work with producers in Malaysia, China, Saudi Arabia, as well as outstanding project proposals awaiting re-awakening in Korea and Japan. Part of my role is to invent/shape ideas and then await others to accept them and make the formal business invite to make them happen. I know them all to be wise. I hope they will be kind and deliver some great “green light” contracts soon.
And we theatremakers in the UK only have to survive two weeks of the New Year before we can get our batteries recharged with the annual Devoted and Disgruntled open space conference. Grab your ticket for £20 and be there – you don’t have to be an expert in anything, just believe that it is worth wondering “What are we going to do about theatre and the performing arts”. So many ideas are explored. So many things have flowed from the connections that are made. I can’t wait to be at New Diorama on Sat 20th through Mon 22nd January. Come and engage with some of the kindest, most passionate, wisest and most devoted voices as we all try to make a difference in the world .
Happy New Year
Can’t wait to be watching the moon rise over Blackness Castle (thanks to photographer rmtx for the stunning image)