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

Recommending: Growing your own vegetables

Creative Capitalism: Bill Gates

I think some of this philosophy applies to funding and benefits from creative arts, which are generally intangible in nature; although Gates’ main focus are more basic necessities such as clean water, enough food or Malaria prevention.
From his 2008 Davos Speech:

“… I like to call this new system creative capitalism – an approach where governments, businesses, and nonprofits work together to stretch the reach of market forces so that more people can make a profit, or gain recognition, doing work that eases the world’s inequities.

Some people might object to this kind of “market-based social change” – arguing that if we combine sentiment with self-interest, we will not expand the reach of the market, but reduce it. Yet Adam Smith – the father of capitalism and the author of Wealth of Nations, who believed strongly in the value of self-interest for society – opened his first book with the following lines:

“How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it.”

Creative capitalism takes this interest in the fortunes of others and ties it to our interest in our own fortunes – in ways that help advance both. This hybrid engine of self-interest and concern for others serves a much wider circle of people than can be reached by self-interest or caring alone…”

Lyn Gardner back to school

Gardner back to school….

“…In my day, it was just accepted that theatre was part of school life. Every summer term, each class would participate in the drama competition, putting on a play from scratch. By the time I’d left St Anne’s, I had been involved in devising, writing, directing, designing, acting in and stage-managing seven plays, with almost no adult input. I wouldn’t be doing the job I do today without that experience. Mrs Martin says, sorrowfully, that today this would be impossible. “There are too many exams, not just in the summer but throughout the year. There just wouldn’t be the time.”

So the Coloma girls end up creating performance and theatre not for the sake of it, not because they really want to, but because it can be marked and graded, in what seems to be the GCSE equivalent of Pop Idol. As I take my leave, I can’t help thinking the girls aren’t as fortunate as I was – at school in a time before endless tests and league tables, when we could spend our days spouting poetry, putting on plays and seeing as much theatre as we could afford for the sheer pleasure of it. It was great fun. Little did I know how useful it would be.”

Imagination: JK Rowling

Excerpts II: “…[Imagination] is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathise…

…Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality…

…But how much more are you, Harvard graduates of 2008, likely to touch other people’s lives? Your intelligence, your capacity for hard work, the education you have earned and received, give you unique status, and unique responsibilities. Even your nationality sets you apart. The great majority of you belong to the world’s only remaining superpower. The way you vote, the way you live, the way you protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government, has an impact way beyond your borders. That is your privilege, and your burden.

If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better…”

JK Rowling: Harvard Commencement

Worth reading her Harvard Commencement address on failure and imagination.

Click here. 

“… What I feared most for myself at your age was not poverty, but failure…
However, the fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person’s idea of success, so high have you already flown academically.

Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life….”

Theatre Critic watching darts.

One for Theatre Critic watchers: Michael Billington watching darts.

The image is not appearing properly so click through here if you to see it…

And his review:

Driving down the M4 on a bank holiday Monday in pelting rain to watch a darts tournament in Cardiff, I wonder if I am being punished in some way, either by God or the Guardian. As a darts virgin, I imagine watching sweating, beer-bellied arrowmen playing to a few hundred spectators. What I discover is that Premier League darts is a mixture of showmanship, skill and big business played to more than 4,000 people, who pack every inch of the Cardiff International Arena. “Darts,” I am told by Sky Sports commentator Sid Waddell, “is working-class theatre.”

I get to talk to Waddell in his presentation box and soon realise why he is as much a legend as the players he describes. In the course of doing his vocal warm-ups, this genial Oxford-educated Geordie talks to me knowledgeably about the original Pitmen Painters (recently dramatised by Lee Hall in his play about the Ashington miners, now at the Cottesloe) and quotes Wittgenstein’s remark that trying to define sport is like trying to define language. But he has none of the pretentiousness of Keith Talent, the anti-hero of Martin Amis’s novel London Fields, which I have been reading by way of preparation. Talent talks of “the address of the board” and “the sincerity of the dart”. Waddell gives me shrewd tips about the players, the punters, the phenomenal popularity of darts and, on air, displays a manic fervour that produces off-the-cuff lines such as “he could play a ukelele and make it sound like a Stradivarius”.

The event itself – consisting of two play-off semis and a final – is a mixture of razzmatazz and expertise. The players, flanked by glamorous female acolytes, enter down a red carpet, like championship boxers. The crowd chant, shout, sing, roar on their favourites, hold up placards (“Kids, has the babysitter turned up yet?” reads one) but fall appreciatively silent for each “leg” of the contest. What soon becomes clear, however, is that we are here to watch the coronation of a darts genius: Phil “The Power” Taylor, who has won the three previous Premier League finals and is about to sweep to a triumphant fourth.

“Taylor is to darts,” I was told by Waddell, “what Bradman is to cricket or Pele to football: he has set a standard which we know will never be matched.” But in sport, as in theatre, there is always a hidden story just beneath the surface. In the second semi the 47-year-old Taylor defeats the 23-year-old Adrian Lewis with contemptuous ease: only later do I learn that both hail from Stoke and that Taylor is a professional mentor to the visibly crestfallen Lewis. And, although in the final Taylor beats the 25-year-old James Wade with a run of remarkable trebles, the steely, bespectacled Wade periodically unsettles the champ. Are we, I wonder, seeing the darts equivalent of drama’s peripateia: a crucial turning-point in which the reigning king has to acknowledge a rival to the throne?

But, for now, the rotund, unflappable Taylor displays the perfect hand-to-eye co-ordination and muscle memory of the great sportsman. His only mistake, in picking up the £100,000 prize, is to say that “it’s been a great year for English sport” momentarily forgetting that he is addressing a crowd of raucous, partisan, tanked-up Welshmen. Darts may be a display of sporting skill. But, as one of Waddell’s Sky colleagues said to me as I was about to quit the noisy arena: “You can take darts out of the pub, but you can never entirely take the pub out of darts.”

5 things

1. What was I doing 10 years ago? I had directed the Crucible at Cambridge and now with summer I’d be heading towards exams in Natural Sciences and then my first May Ball.

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list for today?

- Assess the benefits of GLP-1s in diabetes, make sure I mention the Gila monster.
- Think about writing
- Make sure A. does not stress out too much
- Think and write about planning applications
- Figure out how to keep the cats from pooing in the garden especially on my beans.

3. Snacks I enjoy: Kinder surprise, chocolate buttons, home made crispy pork scratchings, Tortas de Aceite de Ines Rosales. I like all yummy food, snacks included! Can I have Jamon Serrano or culatello as a snack?

4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire: Amongst other things, I’d kick start some creative hub or industry; with theatre but probably other arts as well. Some great arts centre maybe like the ICA but with more resourced sections for various artists.

5. Places I have lived: London, Ham, Cambridge, Cambridge, Mass.

Pursuit of Happiness

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

So states the US Declaration of Independence written mainly by Thomas Jefferson, however it is believed that Benjamin Franklin may have wrote the phrase

Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness

Changing it from

Life, Liberty and Property

in Jefferson’s draft. However it was put back to Life, Liberty and Property in the Bill of Rights.

I’m not sure anyone quite knows why the changes occurred. I don’t believe the change was explained during Jefferson’s lifetime. The pursuit of happiness is the better slogan but perhaps legally “Property rights” is a more important (or at least easier to understand legally) concept to legislate for.

It is thought that the phrase is based on the writings of, English philosopher (and other moral thinking of the time), John Locke, who expressed a similar concept of “life, liberty, and estate (or property)“. Locke said that “no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.” Strong legal property rights are now a fundamental for forging a modern healthy economy and society but were only developing under English common law at the time. At the time, it was probably not readily thought of as an essential component of liberty which we take for granted in many societies today.

However, on a moral philosophy level, I would like to speculate that the phrase was influenced by Aristotle and his Nicomachean Ethics.

Aristotle argued that eudaimonia is the goal of life, and that a person’s pursuit of eudaimonia will result in virtuous conduct.

Eudaimonia has no direct translation in to English but is often thought as best translated as happiness. And so the Declaration also has this ethical dimension.

On this dimension, does the right to pursue happiness also give use the “right” to fall in love and find our life long partner?

I think it does. In this way our pursuit of love and hence happiness is an unalienable right that is self evidently true….

A Day of Engagement

It started with

Cedar Ring

That I made with my own hands from a cedar of Lebanon that lived in the grounds of Salisbury Cathedral

Cedar of Lebanon, Salisbury Cathedral

until it was blown down in a storm, and a shell

we collected from the beaches of east Sri Lanka.

I received in return


Time for a small spot of this


On a bagel.

Then as part of a secret trip going to

Ginger Pig



And La Fromagerie for


Carrying with us this (inherited from the remnants of my father’s collection)

Pichon 1982

Of which Robert Parker claims: “thick, supple, velvety-textured, gloriously decadent, and hedonistic…If [you] need just one wine with which to impress someone, close a deal, or just experience the pleasures of wine, make it the Pichon-Lalande 1982…

Leading to me cooking an unforgettable meal here

For a perfect day to become engaged.

Yellow sidelined for Brown and Black?

“Are artists/practitioners with East Asian roots sidelined in favour of South Asian and Black British work?”

lc, as an actress writes in the comments:

“Definitely! As a performer, so many times I’ve wondered how a friend has got that dream job/audition while I didn’t even get a look in… only to realize later that the company had specifically been looking for a black performer, although the colour of the character was not at all relevant to the piece…

Quite simply, I get the impression that black is cool, brown is quite cool, yellow is not.

But this applies not just to theatre but to a wide range of areas including music, politics, media… East Asian societal figureheads do seem in short supply in comparison with black and other Asian counterparts. I do still think that we are very passive in Britain, despite being (I believe) the third largest ethnic group.

I’m ambivalent about these labels “black/brown/yellow theatre”. I’m all for culturally diverse work, but I do long for the day when I can work with a company composed of individuals from a wide range of racial and cultural backgrounds, when we won’t be known or celebrated because we are all black, yellow, or just “different” but because we are simply producing high quality work that unites people regardless of race, class or nationality.

Idealistic? Of course! And there are flaws in the proposal but I find myself increasingly drawn to notions that unite and not divide us. If theatre is about humanity, then it should be our (shared) humanity that drives it, not our appearance.

And returning to this idea of being “sidelined” – part of me wonders if we are being sidelined, or whether we’re simply not fighting hard enough”

Good Soul of Szechaun / Happy-Go-Lucky

These made an interesting pairing for me in the last few weeks.

Both feature a strong female character trying to do her best in a world full of characters, which may not always really want the best for her.

In the Good Soul of Szechuan, Brecht is articulating a dilemma of the time. Trying to do good when it will most likely drown you at least economically). I’m not sure “free markets” are quite as bad as that… although they do suffer from the “tragedy of the commons” which essentially Shen Te – quirkily brilliant Jane Horrocks – is to everyone. A free resource will be overused – think over fishing of seas.

The visual and theatrical staging (and design, Miriam Buether) is brilliant and I think the director’s (Richard Jones) work in opera and large scale visions shows through.

Sally Hawkins as Poppy is more beguiling in Mike Leigh’s film. She seems drawn to helping people and like the film title is happy-go-lucky.

Like John Sayle’s Limbo, the films says what it is. Happy-Go-Lucky.

Do we looks for Poppy’s dark secret in the film? I think because of general story narrative, we do. But, we don’t find it. This is film as a character study and the character is optimistic and chirpy, and if she wasn’t so genuine she might even be a little irritating but she’s genuinely compassionate and caring. I believe her.

I believe there are many people who are like her some of the time, and even some who are like her most of the time. I’d even venture to say, there are some who have always decided to look on the bright side of life – perhaps in the belief that if everyone did and if everyone remained optimistic, caring, compassionate then the world would be a happier place.

I’d like to think, I try and do that when I can.

Shovelling stones

I’ve been working hard. I’ve been shovelling stones in the garden. I’ve been struggling with many things.

I missed my friend, Penny Skinner’s play, Fucked, at the Old Red Lion although to be fair it was sold out and so I couldn’t get a ticket.

I’ve not seen an awful lot of late for the above reasons. But I have been thinking about some of the similarities between creative processes.

The crafting of a play; its themes, characters, plots, images and the designing of interior architecture.

Trying to create enough ingredients to sustain the interior or the play. Fun, surprise. The constant re-working of ideas. The seeking of inspiration.

I’ve also been asked to write on this posed question: The British East Asian theatre experience; if “brown is the new black”, where does that leave yellow? Are artists/practitioners with East Asian roots sidelined in favour of South Asian and Black British work?

Any thoughts welcome.

I’ll be back when I have something more to say. Lots of good plays around at the moment. Am going to try harder to get out and about. At least the sun is out.

Before Voting

London is coming to its elections for Mayor and local councillors.

I was struck by a thought experiment Warren Buffet does before he decides how to vote. Buffet is one of the richest men in the world and tends to vote Democrat.
It is 24 hours before you’re to be born as a baby, and a genie appears.

The genie is going to let you set the rules of the world you’ll be born into. You can set the social rules, the political rules, the economic rules-whatever you like. And whatever rules you set will apply for your lifetime and your children’s lifetimes too.

You think: This sounds great! What’s the catch? And the genie then tells you that you don’t know if you’ll be born rich or poor; black or white; male or female; sick or healthy; intelligent or slow. The only thing you know is that there’s a lottery with 6 billion choices…. and how you start life will be represented by one of them.
Buffet called this the “ovarian lottery”.

Some of us are born pretty, some of us are born intelligent, some of us are born to rich parents…

Buffet votes as if he didn’t know which lottery ticket he would have, and which he thinks – not knowing how the lottery will turn out – will best serve.

Left to Right

David Edgar quoting Robert Frost:

I never dared to be radical when young, for fear it would make me conservative when old

World is turning

The most “interesting times” in financial markets for many years. At the heart is the decline in US housing but passing through are many factors: regulation, consumption, use of financial derivatives, currencies, China… All analysed with much more acumen by many others, than by me.

Worth knowing about because I believe the US (particularly) but “anglo-saxon markets” in general have reached a philosophic crossroads.

It is socio-economic. It is the biggest cross roads since WWII and it is likely to be decided only by few (is it ever different that the few lead the many?)

The crux of the matter is those who believe in minimum government intervention, light regulation and the self-correcting nature of markets vs those who argue that the markets have proved that greed has demonstrated markets can not be as lightly regulated as before.

Why does this matter?

This time the problem will be solved and the US will bounce back (note long term optimism of eg Warren Buffett). But the next time the problem will be bigger. The world more globalised and the risk of a large depression which affects the common man will be high. See Michael Lewitt of HCM, Martin Wolf of FT, Prof Roubini of NYU.

Indirectly, for the creative arts this could be a boon time. On one hand there will be less money for creative arts – economic setbacks tend to cause this. On the other hand, clever creative people who went in to financial engineering for the money etc. will not be so attracted and may end up becoming more “productive” members of society [note I do think finance is “productive” but is arguably overweighted with clever creative people who could go into other industries] such as teachers, nurses and potential swell the creative classes too… more artists, writers, thinkers…

The world you live in is going to go through another big change this generation. Watch.

Mike Leigh’s notebooks

Notebooks here.

Mike Leigh says:

“I work individually with each actor to create the character, but they don’t make notes: I do. Each has his or her own, numbered reporter’s notebook according to when they start the rehearsals. The most famous things associated with me are my tiny pocket scripts, cut to fit my shirt pocket. They absorb sweat and weather and location-catering and fuck knows what. It’s great not to be cluttered with crap. Like scripts”

Also worth seeing his other objects…. metal flies !


Reading about Eliot Spitzer, New York Governor, being caught using a high class escort ring leads me to thoughts about humbleness that I have been having over the years.

The FT writes “Spitzer was educated at Horace Mann preparatory school in Manhattan, at Princeton University and at Harvard Law School, which encouraged arrogance and self-righteousness. These qualities led him to become a client of a vice ring although he had prosecuted such outfits before and knew the risks involved. Whether or not he committed a crime, he acted so recklessly that it beggars belief.

I was educated at Westminster school, Cambridge University and Harvard University.
Do these places encourage arrogance and self-righteous? Or was it his own personal and family history (rich background) which led him down that path?

I would say first and foremost, with a bit of luck, the places I was educated at encouraged free and independent thinking and pitted that thinking against very high critical and intellectual standards. I wasn’t rich.

The other areas I ply my trade, as long term readers would know, are in theatre/arts, science (particularly medicine/pharmaceuticals) and the stock market.
I believe the true observer and participant in the markets would learn humbleness. No matter how good you are, you do not know if next day or next year you will have assessed the market wrong. Even the best, such as Victor Neiderhoffer in the trading arena have come unstuck and Warren Buffet will admit his investing mistakes too (read his shareholder letters). More often than not, the market “knows” best and if it does not then it can remain “irrational for longer than you can remain liquid” ie you will run out of money first before the market does.

That is part of the thrill and challenge for traders and stock market lovers.

I was good at Maths when I was growing up. I could probably say I was very good. However, I was good enough to know I was not a genius.

I liken it to being able to climb a hill in order to see that there are other mountains further ahead. There are lots of people who don’t climb that hill at all and I guess perhaps a hill or a mountain can look the same from further away.

There has been a lot of talk about critics in the arts. I think this has increased since the advent of blogs have given voices to more art goers.

From my point of view, I see a fair amount of modern art in all its forms and on many occasions, I don’t understand it. Some times, I don’t understand it but it still moves me – this happens to me in dance and some times I’m left blank.

Is this the artists problem or mine? That is probably the wrong question posed in the wrong binary form.

However, for most art I believe there is a compact between artist and audience/viewer/reader. Theatre is not complete without an audience. Not to the same extreme but towards the same effect: art needs a viewer, literature needs a reader, music needs a listener, architecture needs inhabitants; art forms have died when its audiences have been lost like gods die when believers fade.

Both the artist and the audience have a problem if they can’t communicate. Some times both will want to fix this problem, some times neither.

As a viewer of art, I like to take the humble approach first and assume that if I don’t understand some thing, it is a problem first with me and not with the art.

Some times I can solve this, I can find out more about where the piece is coming from, some times I can not and some times for various reasons, I will not – probably to my loss. The piece may well move others.

Science has an inbuilt mechanism in its process to rely on evidence, testing and re-testing that can somewhat diminish too much individual arrogance.

However, over the years, I can’t help thinking that the world would be a more peaceful, perhaps more productive place, if and when, we come up against something we don’t understand, we first ask ourselves what it is about ourselves which means we can’t understand it, and then try to understand it on its terms from its own place before we dismiss it as not our problem but the X’s problem. [Think theatre criticism, but also religion, Middle East, conflict etc.] Many of our greatest mountains pay respect to large matters – Stephen Hawking to the Universe, Warren Buffett to the markets, Monet to nature.

Some days, I think it would have been amazing to be a mountain, but when you are on the top of the world perhaps it is difficult to put matters in perspective.

Eliot Spitzer couldn’t. Why would I be better?

Fledgling talent easily crushed

Lyn Gardner writes:

“Like almost every critic working when Max Stafford-Clark was artistic director of the Royal Court, I had my fair share of letters from him, but Max’s letters were always written more in sorrow than in anger. In fact, you could actually see the tear stains, which I found deeply touching.

I suspect that alcohol plays a part in many letters written in response to theatre reviews, and I imagine that the vast majority find their way into the bin rather than the post. But when I was starting out, I reviewed a play by a young woman playwright whose work I’d previously seen and enjoyed. Her next play was a disappointment and I said so bluntly in my review. One day I ran into her. “What are you working on?” I asked. “Nothing,” she said. “I haven’t written a word since I read your review.” Was it true? Maybe, maybe not. But it was a salutary lesson. Fledgling talent is easily crushed: I try to remember that whenever I sharpen my pencil.”

I garnered a 2* review from Lyn for Lost In Peru but I remember she had an uplifting line or two in there for the young playwright; not sure a 1* review would have completely stopped me in my tracks but it is good to think critics do some times think of the people they review.

More critics here.

Press, Gate / Pina Bausch

I think Pina Bausch said something a long the lines of

I’m not interested in how people move, I’m interested in what moves people.
I was lucky enough to see Cafe Müller / Rite of Spring and Pierre Rigal’s Press, at the Gate, on consecutive nights last week.

The Bausch was incredible and did not seem 30 years old at all. Watching the performances so close together, I could almost draw a wiggly line to come from Bausch to Rigal probably via Wim Vandekeybus.

I’m incredibly fond of the Gate for many reasons and so a useless reviewer of work there but Lyn Gardner and  Andrew Haydon have both described Rigal’s work with high praise.

What I liked and I link between both the Bausch and the Rigal is that the story seems to be on the edge of your mind. You can’t complete the narrative in any straightforward way, some of the dance and physicality and atmosphere has to complete it for you. And so, the pieces become both highly personal as the work only makes sense in your head and will be pretty different in another’s I suspect but somehow quite deep and universal as everyone grasps the themes: alienation, love, patterns of history, stress, confinement, battling machines, life in you head — that apply to the Rigal and Bausch in no particular order.

Anything for a nice laugh.

Jeffrey Eugenides on Lorrie Moore:

I’ve been building up an imaginary shrine in my home dedicated to the cult of Lorrie Moore and I almost wept when I read the line from “How to Be An Other Woman” that goes… “he laughs, smooth, beautiful, and tenor, making you feel warm inside of your bones. And it hits you; maybe it all boils down to this: people will do anything, anything, for a really nice laugh….” I truly believe that. Don’t you think most people–smart, thinking people–would do just about anything for someone with a nice laugh?

Gift Giving

Between bouts of bronchitis coughing, I’ve started reading Lewis Hyde’s The Gift which is according to the blurb “a brilliantly argued defence of the importance of creativity in our increasingly money-orientated society”.

Hyde argues that “a work of art is a gift, not a commodity” or, it works in two economies “a market economy” and “a gift economy”.

Art can survive without the market (cave paintings?) but where there is no gift there is no art.

The art that matters to us – moves the heart, or revives the soul, or delights the senses, or offers courage for the living – that art work is received by us, as a gift is received. Even if we have paid a fee at the door, when we are touched by a work of art something comes to us which has nothing to do with the price…

…our sense of harmony can hear the harmonies Mozart heard. We may not have the power to profess our gifts as the artist does, and yet we come to recognise, and in a sense to receive, the endowments of our being through the agency of his creation.”

His book goes on to explore this often through anthropological studies.

He only briefly mentions a few downfalls of gifts: gifts that leave an oppressive sense of obligation, gifts that manipulate or humiliate, the tragedy of the commons (look this up if you haven’t heard of, it’s a good theoretical explanation for why we deplete the seas, for instance)…

This conjures two thoughts in my mind.

Why do characters give what they give in plays? They almost always are trying to do something with their gift, they want something or they are trying to manipulate… if we see someone giving something – we know there is meaning behind it. Occasionally, we know the meaning but the character does not, a form of irony. Some times it is symbolical. Rarely is a major gift meaningless and if it is, often, we are disappointed.

The other thought is this sense of obligation. There was someone I liked a lot once. She told me gift giving for Maoris was reciprocal, if you gave there was a circle so you would give back. For a wonderful period of time, it was a circle of joy. Wild flowers unexpectedly sprinkled in a room begat jelly babies hanging from a door frame begat surprises in your post box but then the weight of life cracked the circle.

I didn’t properly notice (my Dad was dying, so it was a reasonable excuse) and thus the weight of my gifts created an unwanted and unhappy sense of obligation. Or even an unwanted sense of memory.

I think this is one reason ex-lovers find it hard to give each other simple things. All their exchanges are weighted with memory and symbols. The same for story.

« Previous PageNext Page »

  • 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