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

Recommending: Growing your own vegetables


I am about to go to Japan. I hope to see a Noh play. If anyone has any tips, do let me know.

I’ll be going to Tokyo, Kyoto and I think Osaka and Nara too.

It’s my first time and I’m looking forward to it. Especially all the crazy (and delicious) food and its presentation eg:

Japanese ice cream

Japanese ice cream

Conor McPherson, lost friends

Conor McPherson, I have been led to believe is one of our most successful European playwrights (Irish origin). The Weir, which played in London in 1997 when he was 25, had great audiences, a world wide tour and – I’ve been told – a lot of money. Theatre people are often as obsessed by money as anyone else.

Here’s an interview with him by Maddy Costa as Seafarer is about to start at the National. In terms of work, it’s intriguing as he has a lot of “absent” female voices are rarely has any female parts in his plays… see link here

As one grows older, it seems one often loses touch with friends. Time, work, family don’t allow us the same freedom to socialise as when we were students. I’ve noticed a lot of weddings this year for my friends, some who I haven’t seen in years.

Many people I’ve known keep cropping up in theatres though. I’ve caught sight of Bronwen Wilson who is keeping a blog (see here) of Chekhov at the Chapel for her company Cilgwyn Theatre. I’ve not seen Bronwen for years and there she appears creating theatre. I’m going to be away for most of the run but I wish them luck.

Edward Bond

Another article from Mark Ravenhill in the Guardian (is that over 10 this year?) this time on Edward Bond. See here.

Edward Bond

Good introduction to his work and influence but better is this interview between Bond and John Tusa on Radio 3. See transcript here.

…The National Theatre is “a Technicolor sewer”; the Royal Shakespeare Company “trivialises and vulgarises Shakespeare in a way that is truly barbarous”. …

Why do people have theatre?… why do people go to theatres, it’s very silly really if somebody came down from Mars and they saw people sitting there, adults watching other adults pretending to be what they were not, they would think it was pretty odd as a past time and shouldn’t people go out and get on with their lives.

But really there were two important aspects in life, one is the absolute material; chairs, aeroplanes, forests, and the relation between those things is the material necessity and the material process that you earn a living or that you can shelter yourself and perhaps be part of a community.

The other thing is the metaphor, we live metaphors and I think our culture doesn’t appreciate that at all. And a metaphor has as much reality as a table or a chair…

I feel very strongly that everybody has to live a life which is a metaphor and it’s that
that actually makes us human. It’s not our intelligence, it’s not our reason.

I put it this way, that Einstein, as a thinker is just a very superior ape. When he plays the
violin, even if he plays it badly he’s human because he’s entered into a completely
different context, completely different meaning. You couldn’t have anything call
self-consciousness without imagination. We are self-conscious beings, we know that, but normally we are self-conscious in order to listen to God or the government or some order or something like that. And the whole question about going to the theatre is to try to make the metaphor speak for us, not as an isolated product of art, somebody… I’ve just come back from Vienna and somebody there said to me, well of course art is a thing of past and we mustn’t contaminate it with the ordinary processes of life. You can imagine what I felt about that. It seemed to be absolutely the opposite. And of course there is tendency to sort of produce something that is transcendental, I loathe the word transcendental, I think it is just an excuse for some form of insanity. Everything that is in the imagination has to come from reality.


I like that last insight….”Everything that is in the imagination has to come from reality.”

Everything we write springs from us, and we spring from our experience of reality.

And his comment about what makes us human… not intelligence… but metaphor.

Michael Grandage

Have a listen to Michael Grandage and Michael Billington speak on this podcast. Link here.

Amongst other things it gives an insight in to how the Donmar is run and Grandage’s experience at Sheffield. Also for the directors amongst you he mentions an interesting point about having to direct a lot of shows on a 3 sided stage and how that compares to a pros arch – the 3 sided experience (lots of diagonals to deal with) adds a lot in his thinking when staging for front-on pros arch.

And also on transferring shows to the West End and the power (or not) of commercial producers.

  • 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