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

Recommending: Growing your own vegetables

Can’t Stand up for Falling Down

Richard Cameron has been described by Aleks Sierz as

Doncaster bard. Poet of post-industrial South Yorks. Specialises in tender and hilarious accounts of northern working-class life. His lyrical vision embraces tough women and violent men.
Cameron wrote Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down in 1990 and it was first performed at the Hampstead Theatre. It’s mainly based on three interweaving monologues given by women but in relation to the men (and one violent man in particular) in their lives. In that respect it echoes a lot of the work that Conor McPherson produced later with interlocking monologues of mainly male charcters.

There’s a revival on at the Arcola theatre – click here -  with a very strong cast (Emily Dobbs, Rachel Fishwick and Emilie Patry — although I may have a bias as Emilie is a friend) and straightforward but powerful design (Rhiannon Brown, the debris and items of the characters life all piled up at the back of the stage), lighting (Alex Stone) and direction (Dan Ayling). However, as always with monologues, they live or die by the actors performances, which were good.

Definitely worth checking out and as always you can get a great Turkish grill from Mangal opposite the theatre (which seems to have had a good scrub up of late). Also note the play is staged in the “new” Arcola Studio 2, which is a small but seemingly very flexible space.

Until 4th November, 020 7503 16 46 (box office)

Allotments fading away….

This summer I grew some herbs in a window box and some salad from seed.

Not only was the salad ever so tasty and the fresh herbs so zingy (and still alive in the mild October London weather; the salad is now eaten) but watching them grow was somehow a real life affirming experience.

Sun, water, a little care and attention (the day I let the salad wilt some in the sun was very sad) and these livings things grew… So, I think it is sad that London is losing its allotments.


A summary is here and: “London has lost more than 1,500 allotment plots over the past decade according to a report, A Lot to Lose: London’s disappearing allotments. It follows an investigation by the London Assembly’s Environment Committee led by Peter Hulme Cross AM which shows the loss of allotments is occurring at three levels – the number of site, the number of plots, and the area of land used for allotments. Launching the report Mr Hulme Cross said “all over London, where the pressure for land is intense, allotments are losing ground in our urban landscape.

See here for in depth document and also for maps for where allotments are in London if you would like to join a waiting list and your nearest growing patch.

Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster and City of London have no allotments in the area, not one; but outer London boroughs have an obligation to provide residents with allotments if demanded…. I think 6 residents need to group together and send in an official demand.

Caryl Churchill, comparative pieces

I’ve mentioned this before but Nina Raine (who coincidentally wrote a play called Rabbit see below)has written for Arete, an insightful piece comparing two productions of Far Away, by Caryl Churchill. One by Stephen Daldry and one by Peter Brook, in French (which I managed to see in Paris).

There may be bias, in that I think she assisted on the Daldry production, but I think it provides very interesting thoughts on short plays, plays in two languages and the visions of two acknowledged great directors working with one of Britain’s greatest living playwrights.

I say greatest…. of course there’s no easy way of judging that but Churchill I have been told is one of only a handful of playwrights who stand an almost 100% chance of selling out a new play before previews have finished. I think Stoppard and Pinter count as well.

I mention this as I am booked in to see Churchill’s new play, Drunk Enough to Say I Love You.

The tag line is:

” Jack would do anything for Sam. Sam would do anything.”

I also mention it as A Number is being performed in Sheffield with father and son team of Timothy and Samuel West (artistic director). This adds another layer to play which has the possibilties of cloning and the relationship between those we have genetic ties to, at its heart. Running to Nov 11 I don’t think I will be able to get to Sheffield to see it, but if anyone does, let me know what you thought?

Rabbit (self) assembly

Play. Making up your own stories. A party. An invite.

Creating your own theatre. (Self) Assembly.

Intrigued? Try here. Or go see Rabbit at the BAC.

Ok…. if you must know more; Lyn Gardner, Guardian, didn’t really like it but Lucy Powell at Timeout really liked it.

But I like the work of the man involved, so if you fancy a trip to the BAC do go try it out.

PS Rabbit tells me the updated link is here


I’m hearing very good things about Punchdrunk‘s Faust from friends and critics.

Lyn Gardner’s review is here. She writes: “…Step through the doors of 21 Wapping Lane – a vast disused warehouse in the original Tobacco Dock – and suddenly London is very far away. Behind these doors lurks a strange parallel universe, a secret deep-south bar where the blues – the devil’s music – is played, and a place where a preacher raises hell, and Faust raises the devil….
I’ve booked to go. There are tickets available so give it a go….

There’s relatively little of this type of work which garners this support (although the NT under NH have started to eg Shunt’s work) and the site in Wappings sounds amazing — by its nature site specific work has to engage and bring out the site — friends tell me Paris has more of this type of theatre and performance (and easier to find — there’s quite a lot of “live art” in London but if you’re not involved it’s not so easy to find) perhaps this growing trend in London and nationally will continue….

Fancy going in & shaking up the Arts Council?

Some jobs going… All London based, I link to a couple of them but you can find out more on artsjobonline or Arts Council site. Early November deadline.
Director, Theatre Strategy click to apply
Director, Visual Arts Strategy click to apply
Director, Dance Strategy
Director, Grants for the Arts, £50,000 – £60,000
Director, Learning and Skills Strategy
Director, Literature Strategy
Director, Regularly Funded Organisations, £41,565 – £45,943
This is their blurb…:”The arts don’t stand still. And neither do we. We are now entering one of the most exciting and challenging periods of artistic, social and technological change. As the recognised voice for the arts in England we are changing to meet these challenges and will focus more on national leadership, strategic development and planning and making a stronger case for the arts. We aim to provide the ideal platform for the future development of the arts in all their present day diversity….”

Just don’t fall in to the trap that has this Ambulance blogger annoyed.

“We [London Ambulance Service]… ‘underachieved’ at “Deliver a ten percentage point increase per year in the proportion of people suffering from a heart attack who receive thrombolysis within 60 minutes of calling for professional help.” – Is this because we don’t do thrombolysis in London, instead we take the patient to an angioplasty centre, which is much better for the patient….”

Is this another case of tick boxing and percentages gone wrong….

Lost in translation. It’s true.

It’s true. Tokyo at night really does look like it did in Lost in Translation….


And look who this is… appearing in a Japan only advert…?

A famous American actor…..


If you haven’t head of the slides at the Tate modern and you’re going to be in London, do check them out. See link here.

Tate Spiral My top tip: past by early Friday morning – ie get there for opening at 10am and book a ticket for some time later – in the evening. You can only get tickets on the day.

Seven Sins

Reading commentary in the newpapers and on Natalie Uninterrupted about the Madonna baby adoption made me think about a workshop I did with Annette Mees (director) and Lyndsey Rice (dramaturg) regarding the Seven Sins.

The project is bringing together seven writers to write short plays on the seven sins.

I’m doing Greed.

Hm. Not sure what that says about me. But, do let me know if you have an good ideas?!

Circling back to Madonna, it was suggested in the workshop that celebrity maybe an overarching 8th sin which encompasses all the other 7!

For the record, from wiki:

Lust (undesired love) vs Chastity (purity)
Gluttony (overindulgence) vs Moderation (self-restraint)
Greed (avarice) vs Generosity (vigilance)
Sloth (laziness) vs Zeal (integrity)
Wrath (anger) vs Meekness (composure)
Envy (jealousy) vs Charity (giving)
Pride (vanity) vs Humility (humbleness)

We also had an interesting discussion as to when a “sin” could be positive…. can envy spur success, can pride spur better work, can lust spur….erm… babies?

New blogs from great theatre makers

I come back from Japan and discover two new blogs from people whose work I greatly admire.

OK, so Chris Goode seems to have been blogging for a while and I’ve just been slow.

David Eldridge is a genuine October starter. Both create great theatre and both – from what I can tell – have blogs worth reading.

The last bucket makers of Kyoto

We are called playwrights – like shipwrights – this naming suggests we playwrights are craftsmen. Practical before “artistic” although there is much art in a beautifully wrought ship.

Perhaps this is one reason why I have always felt an affinity for craftsmen and artisans.

In Japan, before machines, before plastic, buckets were made by hand.

These were small tub buckets for washing, large barrel buckets for making pickles, special well buckets for shrines and holy water, all forms of buckets.

No nails are used. Special tools place the pieces of wood to exact shape, so that they can slot together to produce a water tight bucket. Added strength is given by a bamboo or copper ring.

The wood is specially chosen, the right type of cedar or cypress is chosen, and all the elements are crafted by hand.Bucket Maker

I was led to this craft by Diane Durston who wrote Old Kyoto, a guide to traditional shops and inns in Kyoto. Sadly the bucket maker that Diane knew had passed away a few years ago, and he had no family or apprentice to pass his craft down to. However I was determined to find a craftsman if I could.

After asking at the beautiful inn, Shiraume, where we were staying we found that there was a bucket maker left in Gion, Okesho.

Armed with a phrasebook, we found the shop. At first, I found out a little about what all the buckets were used for from the old lady who ran the ront of the shop but with my stilted Japanese, it was difficult. So she called out to her son (I presume) who appeared from the workshop.

I learned some of the Japanese names for the wood and we chose a small rice bucket and sushi tray to buy. My interest sparked an invite to look at his workshop and he showed us some of the process that goes into splitting, planning and joining the wood.

Workshop at Okesho

He makes his own tools – as is the way of most Japanese craftsmen – and the craft is hundreds of years old. I asked him how many hand made bucket shops were left. He thought perhaps two or three.

And how many people who still knew how to make buckets? Only five.

Only five people left who know this craft. In one more generation, the craft will probably be lost and there will be no more hand made buckets.

Winner Gate Translation Award

This really amazed me and for someone who works with words, I was temporarily lost for them.

“Congratulations to Benjamin Yeoh whose translation of Noh play, NAKAMITSU, will be staged at the Gate Theatre in 2007 after being chosen from a record-breaking number of submissions….”

Recording a radio play: Patent Breaking Life Saving

I’m currently in the studio recording my BBC World Service radio play, Patent Breaking Life Saving, with Jessica Dromgoole directing.

It’s a brilliant experience and Jessica and all the actors are great. The play is coming across in all its comedy and absurdities.

It’s about a fictional African president who gets hit on the head, starts giving out free medicines in his country and the comic socio-political ramifications of his actions.

It will be broadcast, Saturday 2 December 2006 at about 1900 GMT but around the world at different times (see below). It will be available on playback for a week at this link.

The cast are excellent: look out for Danny Sapani as President Ernest, Tanya Moodie as Grace, Jimmy Akingbola as Solomon, Jude Akuwudike as Moses, Leo Wringer as Ambassador Joseph, Victor Romero Evans as CEO Jackson and Janice Acquah as the interviewer and news reader.


Broadcast times. All times GMT

Australasia: Sat 0906 rpt Sun 0306, 1106; East Asia: Sat 0806 rpt Sun 1006; South Asia: Sat 2206 rpt Sun 0906, 1506; East Africa: Sat 1806, Sun 0106, 1006; West Africa: Sat 2106 rpt Mon 0006; Middle East: Sat 1806 rpt 2306, Sun 1006; Europe: Sat 1906 rpt Sun 0106, 2106; Americas: Sat 1906 rpt Sun 0106, Mon 0506

“Biggest blog in history”

Be part of the “biggest blog in history”…. The National Trust is encouraging people to record a diary of their day on a website, as part of what is being called “Britain’s biggest blog”.

The blogs will then be stored by the British Library and at other locations. The trust says it will create a “fascinating social history archive” of everyday life for future generations.

It seems that Tuesday has been picked as an “ordinary day much like any other of no particular national significance”….

See link here.

Japan & National Noh Theatre, Tokyo

National Noh Theatre, Tokyo

Japan was amazing and a-mazing. Really. Has to be seen and experienced to believe.

Paul Miller has written from a theatre point of view. See here.

I’m just going to give a little flavour from a visitor point of view.

I went to see a Noh play at the National Noh theatre.

See my picture taken from outside (no pictures allowed inside). There’s lots to say but I think I just want to dwell on the audience.

I was an afternoon performance but the theatre was full. There was even space outside to see the performance on a tv screen.

There was a mix of young (school/student trips?) and old. There was a mix of those who seemed rapt and those who were actually asleep. There was a mix of reverence and incomprehension. Many had a programme tracking what actors were saying and doing through the performance. Yet, at crucial points the audience was, I think as rapt, as I have seen at any theatre performance (maybe it was the drum and foot stamps). A shared experienced. Pretty good for a form stretching back to the 14th century.

[Still trying to fix the comments: apols and pls email if you'd like]

Japan and comments

I’ve upgraded to word press 2 and lost my comments ability (this new theme was an attempt to fix the problem). Am trying to get it back (but will struggle while in Japan, I think). In the mean time feel free to email me anything of interest. Thanks to Andrew in pointing this out.

Also…. Andrew writes

I’ve just launched a new blog called London Theatre Blog
which unsurprisingly focuses on theatre/performance in London and beyond. One of the things I’m keen to nurture on this blog is guest writer participation. I’m looking for short 400-500 (or more if needs be) articles to enter on the frontpage ‘feature article’ section, the articles can be about anything related to theatre/performance, it’s completely open….

If you are interested click through to his blog to find out more.

I am currently writing this post in Tokyo half way through an amazing trip to Japan.

I’m hoping to catch some Noh (Andrew yet again has given me some tips) tomorrow at the National Noh theatre.

It’s been fascination and inspiring. Surprsingly, it has not been as heavy on the wallet as I first feared. London prices prepare you for anything it seems.

More on the travels soon.



  • 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