Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation

Recommending: Growing your own vegetables

Last week

Moving in to the last week.

Still have a pretty bad cold which is hampering my energy levels amongst other things.

Not getting out to see other shows as I’m always at my show! But it is fascinating to see it grow and develop. I’m already dreaming of a day when it might get restaged, although this seems a remote possibility (and one of the more annoying aspects of not getting any national press to tempt other producers). But as people keep saying give it time…

Feedback has been wonderful. Maybe it will tour or go abroad. That would be some thing.


Read this piece about a critic getting stuck with a fake swan and his notes ripped up in Germany, witnessed by Michael Billington.

So I’ve been thinking about my reaction to that, and to mostly (though not all) good reviews for Yellow Gentlemen and my uphill (losing) struggle with national press coverage.

Artists will always want the critics to come (even many of those who claim they don’t) not only to try and give critical justification to their work but for the audience a critic can bring – and for critic and artist alike – is it still true that no publicity is bad publicity?

For me, it goes even deeper than that. There’s a complex relationship between informed critic, artist and audience. Critics can help grow a body of work. The lack of good sustained critical feedback for “Black British” theatre has not helped establish its place in British theatre, in my opinion.

The slow critical appreciation of Sarah Kane’s work is another highlight of the difficult role of time, critic, audience and artist. I say long live the informed critic (even when I’ll dislike them if they do not like my work) and their role in helping work grow and find audiences… but let the critic not be sloppy. Opinionated, yes. Lazy, ill-informed, no.

A swan is rather a unique critic baiting device. Perhaps all shows should have an animal (prop or otherwise) on stand by to keep the critics on their toes. Never work with children or animals. Indeed.

4 star Time Out review

No nationals but Time Out liked it:

Here are excerpts that don’t reveal the play:

“…Two men, one young, one middle-aged, watch over the sickbed of old Tommy Lee in a down-at-heel hospice room. The three of them bicker and jostle for position. There is talk of a stack of money hidden in the cupboard.

[Then] Yeoh’s ingenious twist makes itself known….

…Yeoh’s account of the immigrant experience – of Tommy’s journey from Malaysia and his acceptance into the social whirl of the 1960s – is cleverly played off against the generational conflict. … David KS Tse, Nicholas Goh and Jonanthan Chan-Pensley (in descending order of age) give decent performances in Bronwyn Lim’s production…

…the vertiginous sense of possibility and regret present in Yeoh’s intelligent script.”

Second week

Scene from Yellow Gentlemen

I now have a stonking cold. Again.

Still no national press.

However I noticed we got picked up by the Londonist and the feedback has been really positive from general audience and “theatre practioners”. A massive thank you to all those who have and are supporting me. You know who you are.

At some point, as a writer, you have to ask yourself: why write? Why put on plays? You don’t always get a clear answer but I suppose the answer would NOT be for the national press, so I shouldn’t get too het up. But then again, if the nationals don’t come, who ever knows about the plays you’ve written?

(That’s a bit of a moan, so you don’t have to answer it.)

First night

First night. Fear and excitement in alternating measures.

The collective silence, gasps, stillness.

Still can’t persuade the national press to come.

You’re damned if they come, you’re damned if they don’t.


Still amazingly snowed.

Rehearsals coming together. They are the most unique of spaces both emotionally and intellectually.

Seen the recent Lepage. Don’t think it is as empty as Billington or Ravenhill think. More when I have more head space.

Ravenhill also has big rant against globalisation. He disagrees with Saatchi, who says it is like the rain. It just is. Strangely, I agree with some of the idea that it is like the rain. But it’s not that, it just is – but like the rain, it can be good or it can be bad – it will be how we use it or don’t.

Saw Imogen at the Oval House. Touching meditation on grief and love, expressed with a puppet and some great physical images and performances.

Also assisting Jane Bodie on a writers’ course. Take home message and question this week:

Folllow your path
What leads us to certain stories ?

Translation award

IF you fancied a go at translating or adapting perhaps the Gate award will inspire you.

Down load form here.

The Gate Translation Award was set up to encourage and reward the vital contribution translators make to both our work and the worldwide exchange of theatrical creativity.

The winner will receive £1,000, their script will be published by Oberon Books and the winning play produced and staged at the Gate.

The Award is open to translations into English of contemporary works as well as classics from any language, however preference will be given to translations of work not previously produced in the United Kingdom. The Award is open to both translators and playwrights working from literal translations. In the latter case, the Award of £1,000 will be split equally between the literal translator and playwright.

This year’s judges are:

Samuel Adamson, playwright and translator
Penny Black, playwright and translator
Jack Bradley, literary manager of the National Theatre
Simon Callow actor, writer, director
Christopher Hampton director, writer and translator
Nell Leyshon, playwright
Jatinder Verma, artistic director of Tara Arts

The closing date for submissions is 5pm on 24 February 2006.

Fast Trains

I went on a train between Frankfurt and Cologne today.

It reached over 300km per hour and it hardly felt like we were moving at all. Woo.

I’m writing this on a tv in a hotel.

Security at check in was the longest queue I’ve seen for a standard check. Recent riots can’t be helping.

How fast the world. How close the world. How technologised the world.

Crazier and crazier.

Reminds me of the poem… World is crazier… I peel and portion a tangerine and spit the pits…. feel the world being various…


I think it’s always hard for a writer in rehearsal, for many reasons.

Currently, I am surprised that lines are still not learnt 100%, mid way through rehearsals, but that’s the way these things go. Does a nyone have any opinion as to when actors should be off script?

So much is in flux, I don’t think there’s much more I can say.

On other matters, I’ve won a BBC World Service commission to go along side the R4 one, so that’s good. Yay!

Altman on theatre

Billington interviews Robert Altman on the Arthur Miller play, Resurrection Blues, due at the Old Vic.

“”The actors have to know the play because they have to memorise the words. The technicians have to know the play because they have to organise the sound and light cues. But I want to keep myself as virginal as I can. I say, ‘Tell me what this play is about.’ I’ll find out as I do it and I’m really looking forward to seeing it. I don’t advise young directors that this is what they should do. This is simply my method.”

At first, I think Altman is gently taking the piss. But, as we talk, it becomes clear that he conceives a play very much as he does a movie: by placing total trust in his actors and by thinking in visual and aural rather than conceptual terms.”

  • About me

    I'm a playwright and investment analyst. I have a broad range of interests: food, gardening, innovation & intellectual property, sustainability, architecture & design, writing and the arts. I sit on the board of Talawa Theatre Company and advise a CIS investment trust on socially responsible investments.

  • Recent Work

    Recent plays include, for theatre: Nakamitsu, Yellow Gentlemen, Lost in Peru, Lemon Love. For radio: Places in Between (R4), Patent Breaking Life Saving (WS).

  • Nakamitsu

  • Yellow Gentlemen