Monday, January 08, 2007

What a lesson.

It's strange, I spend half my time teaching playwrighting, most often to teenagers, and acting as an ambassador of sorts for my profession in schools. It makes me feel like a much more senior writer than I actually am. Then something like this happens and leaves me with a curious feeling that perhaps I don't know this business as well as I'd assumed, that I'd naively misjudged it's darker edges, and that perhaps, after all, the teenagers have the edge on us. At least Respect is their big thing.

I don't know quite what I unleashed with my last post. It was never my intention for this to descend into personal attacks. I've had to set Comments to moderation, which maybe I should have done in the first place, but it's depressed me all the same that I've had to do that. It's certainly shaken my confidence in the belief that an Anonymous feedback system is a constructive way to move things forward. Any more like that and I'll set this site to Members Only, with full names displayed ... so be warned.

I feel particularly bad that it was David who copped it. His work is in no way part of my moan about plays with nothing to say. Actually, he is one of the most down-to-earth, least up themselves playwrights working today and it's really unfair that he got caught up in this. As for his blog, that's his business alone. I would never criticise anyone's blog; my discussion was about the sort of writing that gets public money spent on it, and that alone. Just this once, for what it's worth, I enjoy David's blog a lot and I think the main thing that comes through is his essentially kind nature. (Though I do admire his spirit when provoked.) With hindsight, his positive editorial policy seems much more mature than mine.

In amongst the muck-slinging there were some interesting points made. I'm particularly pleased that someone from outside the industry popped in to give us a piece of her mind, I'm only sorry, and slightly embarrassed, that it was prompted by such childish behaviour. But overall I feel too disheartened to really continue this debate at all.

I was re-watching Ken loach's Land And Freedom last night, one of my favourite films of all time, and one that always reduces me to helpless tears. As the tragedy unfolded and the Communists turned on the Anarchists at the expense of allowing the Fascists to win the war, I couldn't help but think of this blog. Call me sentimental, but maybe we're better off as comrades rather than enemies despite our differences. (And that's not an invitation to speculate, anonymously or otherwise, about who the 'Fascists' are in our industry ok?)

So what now? Well, I'll certainly think twice before blogging critically in future. I don't want to be seen to incite anything like this again. Whilst I know who some of you are, there's plenty I don't, though I do broadly know the worlds you are drawn from. Suffice to say that undergraduate fight-picking with successful figures is not conducive to moving things forward. I've been there in fierier days, and I've always regretted it.

I'd like to end on a positive note. There's an old Chinese proverb, which an old skool hip hop dancer from New York once told me (I'm not making this up). It was in relation to gangsta rap having hijacked hip hop, an essentially democratic grass roots community movement in its early days. I asked what we could do about arseholes like 50 Cent, and with great dignity he took a breath and replied: 'Why tell a man his glass of water is dirty when you can hold a clean one up alongside it?'

In that spirit, here is my list of Hot Tips, the forthcoming shows of 2007 which I am really excited about.

Attempts On Her Life at the National
Someone Else's Shoes at Soho
Gone Too Far at Royal Court
Nothing But The Truth at Hampstead
Big White Fog at the Almeida
John Gabriel Borkman at the Donmar
Fanny and Faggot at the Finborough
I Wish To Die Singing at the Finborough
Brecht Double Bills 1 and 2 at the Young Vic
Vernon God Little at Young Vic

Pretend You Have Big Buildings at Manchester Royal Exchange
24 Hour City at Manchester Royal Exchange
The May Queen at Liverpool Everyman
Days of Significance at the RSC Stratford
Bulletproof Soul at Birmingham Door

Risk by Company of Angels

Talawa debate at Soho on black writing and the legacy of slavery (can't find this online but its 15-17 Feb in the brochure)
New Writing Debate at the Royal Court (try being anonymous here!)
Syrian new writing at Royal Court

You can add your own in the comments box if you think I've missed any.

Think of it as a penance.


lancewrite said...

How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found at The Crucible in May - someone should mention it.

Anonymous said...

Heard something good's going on Sheffield way in the spring.

Fin said...

Bless you, you're all being charming now. Much better. (But it's March and April rather than May! See you there.)

sbs said...

Cheers for the plug!