This week my daughter and her partner started 6 months volunteering in Calais to offer their skills in the kitchen, the warehouse, and the community of refugees. This gives me hope of the care which younger people have for the world, at a time when I fear for everything that is good in this country. I feel powerless. I have put one small X on a piece of paper as a postal ballot. I share reflections and academic research on Facebook to a body of friends – the vast majority of whom think as I do. I Tweet to other friends who also, I am pretty sure, think like me. I have not had a single conversation with a colleague or online with anyone who is voting Leave, and yet the opinion polls say over 50% of my fellow UK citizens will vote to take us into the unknown. The press breed hatred of the other. Some politicians trade lies and fear. Economists and wise thinkers try to get their message across of the danger we are going into. And I feel powerless.
I hope David Lohmueller will accept my use of his “rainbow of hope” photo, whoever you may be sir. I urge you to take a moment to watch Maya Angelou for two minutes championing us to “be a rainbow in somebody’s cloud”
This week I have seen powerful theatre with “The Threepenny Opera” at the National Theatre, “Piece of Silk” at the Hope Theatre, and “Tender Napalm” and “Billy and Girl” at the Karamel Theatre. 4 plays which seek to challenge us to see the world afresh and use our artistry to shock, excite, cheer, uplift, scare, and enchant our audience. But I suspect almost every person in each of those theatres will be voting Remain – and so the art I see, and the art I help to make, does not reach the audience who are about to lead this country (if the polls are to be believed) into the unknown. Only the Sun, the Daily Mail and the Mirror seem to reach them with their messages. Even a shooting of an innocent servant of the community, despite widespread condemnation, may not be enough.
On Monday I work with two new companies who are ready to bring new work to the stage “Beth” – exploring the idolization of masculity through a reimagining of Macbeth with slam poetry and “My Boyfriend, Jesus Christ” exploring male sexual honesty through a devised piece inspired by a portugese blog. Both follow LGBTQ themes representing voices often not seen in performance. And as the horror of Orlando sinks in, these artists are putting their energy and love into making art which reaches out to people to heal, challenge, and inspire honest reflection.
Next weekend, whatever the outcome of the vote there will be an outpouring of community and colour in Pride on the streets of London. A solidarity from the 1billion members of the global LGBTQ community, and a respectful welcome from the hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting tourists, and workers along the route who will share in a sense of hope and colour, tinged with deep concern and sadness. For the theatre community there will be an annual massive gathering of UK Theatre professional practitioners who will, I suspect, be trying to understand how best to reflect and challenge a future world on their stages and communities. And for me there will be a one day workshop which will bring together a group of us the discuss Clothing Optional Theatre and “How do we choose to reveal our bodies through life, performance and art” – if anyone reading this blog would like to know more, or contribute to that discussion, please email me directly.
One colleague wondered whether we are at a tipping point where everything we have ever known and believed to be safe is going to be upset. This week we will know. In the meantime we can only try and shine out our rainbows, or peel onions in Calais. It’s father’s day – I never knew my father – but I suspect he would be mighty proud of his grandchildren and their inspiring partners. I hope we remain, and they have a life of less uncertainty.