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

Recommending: Growing your own vegetables

Tanika Gupta

Tanika Gupta interview with Lyn Gardner. See here.

She talks about not wanting to be boxed in and “labelled” and also suggests that companies like Tara Arts are “out of date”.

Tv pays the bills but theatre is where her heart is….

Her play on “milk bottles” (rich white women and beach boys in Caribbean) Sugar Mummies sounds intriguing, as well.

Bush / Blair scene

This is fascinating if you haven’t seen it already. It’s an accidentally recorded conversation between Bush and Blair and shows that thier “off-screen” characters are seemingly quite similar to their “on-screen”.

- “Yo Blair” indeed… The nicknames are great as well. It’s almost a little piece of theatre.

Bush: Yo Blair How are you doing?
Blair: I’m just…
Bush: You’re leaving?
Blair: No, no, no not yet. On this trade thingy…[inaudible]
Bush: yeah I told that to the man
Blair: Are you planning to say that here or not?
Bush: If you want me to
Blair: Well, it’s just that if the discussion arises…
Bush: I just want some movement.
Blair: Yeah
Bush: Yesterday we didn’t see much movement
Blair: No, no, it may be that it’s not, it maybe that it’s impossible
Bush: I am prepared to say it
Blair: But it’s just I think what we need to be an opposition
Bush: Who is introducing the trade
Blair: Angela
Bush: Tell her to call ‘em
Blair: Yes
Bush: Tell her to put him on them on the spot.Thanks for [inaudbible] it’s awfully thoughtful of you
Blair: It’s a pleasure
Bush: I know you picked it out yourself
Blair: Oh, absoultely, in fact [inaudble]
Bush: What about Kofi [inaudible] his attitude to ceasefire and everything else … happens
Blair: Yeah, no I think the [inaudible] is really difficult. We can’t stop this unless you get this international business agreed.
Bush: Yeah
Blair: I don’t know what you guys have talked about but as I say I am perfectly happy to try and see what the lie of the land is but you need that done quickly because otherwise it will spiral
Bush: I think Condi is going to go pretty soon
Blair: But that’s that’s that’s all that matters. But if you, you see it will take some time to get that together
Bush: Yeah, yeah
Blair: But at least it gives people…
Bush: It’s a process, I agree. I told her your offer to…
Blair: Well…it’s only if I mean… you know. If she’s got a…, or if she needs the ground prepared as it were… Because obviously if she goes out, she’s got to succeed, if it were, whereas I can go out and just talk
Bush: You see, the … thing is what they need to do is to get Syria, to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it’s over
Blair: [inaudible]
Bush: [inadubile]
Blair: Syria
Bush: Why?
Blair: Because I think this is all part of the same thing
Bush: Yeah.
Blair: What does he think? He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine, if we get a solution in Israel and Palestine, Iraq goes in the right way…
Bush: Yeah, yeah, he is sweet
Blair: He is honey. And that’s what the whole thing is about. It’s the same with Iraq
Bush: I felt like telling Kofi to call, to get on the phone to Bashad [Bashir Assad](9a and make something happen
Blair: Yeah
Bush: [inaudible]
Bush: We are not blaming the Lebanese government
Blair: Is this…? (at this point Blair taps the microphone in front of him and the sound is cut.)


I learnt a lot I didn’t know about Modigliani in this article by Mary Riddell.

He had a very ugly side to his character.

One of the many points raised by Riddell was on the representation of women, which led me to try and think about the roles for women coming out of new writing… and off the top of my head, I’d have to admit that the balance of scales still seem to be wrong in terms of the number of brilliant female characters written as well as the number of female playwrights we have…

Peter Gill on “interventionist” theatre

Peter Gill writes very intriguingly on his view of dramaturgy and writing plays by committee. He is one of the most thoughtful writers and directors in theatre today, in my opinion, and his article is very worth reading. See link here

“…Theatre before 1979 was collaborative. It was also combative and abusive. But it was genuine. It was not mandated by committee or seen as something desirable outside the fact that it worked. One of the problems of interventionist theatre is that it is not collaboration at all: it is autocracy masquerading as collaboration and it is essentially conservative, with all the conservative’s misunderstanding of certain vital facts.

There are no perfect English plays. The battle between the impulse of the writer and the form in which he finds himself has always been awkward. Both Harold Pinter and John Osborne in their first successes, The Birthday Party and Look Back in Anger, follow the form of the conventional one-set, five-character play and find it uncomfortable. They are awkward plays, which is why they are so unsettling and interesting.

What is usually wrong with a play is so deeply wrong that very little can be done to improve it. Most plays need help. But the chatter about narrative and structure, the scènes à faire and metaphor has led us to a lot of unwieldy works with a self-consciously poetic dimension. The cult of originality has squeezed out the competent play with a good part for an actor….”

I do think there’s a lot to be said for writing a play full of interest and passion but not necessarily a perfect “structure”. Hamlet’s “structure” is all over the place….

Work / Life

Simon Reade (AD of Bristol Old Vic) argues that work life balance is possible. See here.

He was arguing against Mark Ravenhill who “mocked the notion of even aspiring to a work-life balance in the theatre on these pages. My family was appalled. “What the shopping and fucking does he know?” raged my partner of 20 years, the actor Alison Reid. “But you’re a crap dad – you’re never at home and when you are, you only ever yawn on about the theatre,” said Rose, our 11-year-old. “I like going to the theatre,” said Amy, aged eight. “Can you take me to school now?” Hazel, five, asked. “Fucky shopping!” echoed Otto, our charming toddler.

Mark argues (link here): “…But even if – heaven forbid – I’m prepared to take politicians at their word, I don’t think it’s possible for an artist to enjoy a good work-life balance. One of the reasons I was attracted to the theatre in the first place – and this is where the “ordinary guy” stuff falls down – was that I wanted inordinately long hours. Rehearsing all day, performances every evening, discussing the shows late into the night. This was a big part of the allure of the stage for me. Which is why – and oh how sinful I know this is, and please don’t tell anyone else – I really resent those around me who are involved in making theatre and want to have a life, too. I do feel that they’re not quite true to the faith. I even – and here I know I am committing the greatest sin of all – have come to despise the phrase “childcare issues”. My only plea for mercy is that I now hear it equally on the lips of both male and female colleagues….

I am certainly struggling with all types of balance at the moment.

“Work – life” simply happens in the whirl that is living a life rather than undying. It is knowing what you want, which is often harder!

Some times I worry more about the art / business / science balance. We are now so specialised that few people can debate the economy, the latest research in oncology and the Howard Hodgkin exhibition – yet I some how believe that cross fertilisation from different areas of interest will lead to better things.

  • 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