Friday, June 15, 2007

I'm not feeling especially bloggy at the moment.

It's partly that I'm still busy finishing a number of different writing and teaching jobs. It's partly that it's been a long year and I'm ready for a holiday. But I think it's also that I'm feeling a bit restricted in what I can and can't talk about.

I've seen a string of duff shows lately, ranging from mediocre to appalling. But I can't discuss them. After dipping my toe into these waters last time and getting a nasty nip, I got some sage advice from trusted quarters that those in the business of producing art shouldn't criticise it. It's not that we're incapable, or that morally we should avoid doing so, or that we have an unspoken oath of solidarity towards our colleagues (though there may be something in this). It's more that when deconstructing other's work and finding fault with it, there's no getting away from the awful unavoidable subtext that you are somehow saying: I can do this better than them, I don't make these mistakes.

Even when you're not.

So I have given up theatre criticism, at least until I see something good (recommendations welcome). And anyway, there are bloggers out there doing a far more intelligent job of assessing the nation's dramatic output than I could ever be bothered to.

I could blog about how, for a variety of diplomatically-sensitive reasons I again can't discuss, a certain well-known play of mine now looks exceedingly unlikely to make it to London. But a foot wrong in that minefield could finally finish off a career that's already been brought back from the brink once too often for my liking. (And that's a howl of frustration directed southwards rather than northwards, for anyone from the fine city of Sheffield reading).

I could blog about the whole depressing Olympics situation but (apart from the fact that this has been done to death in the blogosphere of late) after my initial burst of rage-fuelled letter-writing I've become rather defeatist about the whole thing. Apart from a dismissive email from my MP, and an incoherent statistic-strewn letter from one of Tessa Jowell's minions, the net result of my missives has been a resounding bugger all. David Lammy, Gordon Brown and Peter Hewitt have all ignored me, and I'm not really a joiner in the shouty protesty let's-have-an-arts- sports-day sense (though I wish them all the best.) The blogs and mailing lists and meetings all rail about how 'We must let them know they can't get away with this', but the depressing truth is that of course they can. They're the government. They can do what they like. If they can go to war with millions of people protesting against it they can sure as hell nick some cash from us and bulldoze half of east London for their pointless corporate javelin chuckathon.

So I might take a bit of a break from blogging for a while, and try and catch some sun. Chances are that now I've said this publicly, something extraordinarily dramatic will happen and I'll be back in 24 hours to eat my words and tell you all about it. Then again, it might not.

See you on the other side.

10 comments:

Andrew (a West End Whinger) said...

Awwwwwwwwwwww. Don't go, Fin.

And have you thought about eschewing the creation of artistic endeavour and then you can just lay into it.

It's very therapeutic.

Statler said...

I've seen a string of duff shows lately, ranging from mediocre to appalling. But I can't discuss them. After dipping my toe into these waters last time and getting a nasty nip, I got some sage advice from trusted quarters that those in the business of producing art shouldn't criticise it. It's not that we're incapable, or that morally we should avoid doing so, or that we have an unspoken oath of solidarity towards our colleagues (though there may be something in this). It's more that when deconstructing other's work and finding fault with it, there's no getting away from the awful unavoidable subtext that you are somehow saying: I can do this better than them, I don't make these mistakes.


While I completely understand your current thoughts on this, it's a shame if those involved in theatre can't share their thoughts on the work of others, as they are usually the best people to do so. Although in a similar way, coming from outside the world of theatre and writing up thoughts on productions, I've resisted becoming any more closely involved and declined invitations to meet creative teams, cast etc to be able to remain at arms length.

Enjoy your break, and try to catch some sun - it makes such a difference, and consider setting yourself up with a "secret blogger identity" where you can happily comment on what you see without fear.

View From The Stalls

notional said...

chin up fin.
keep on going - your thoughts are always worth looking at, especially your perspective as you make your way through the literary troughs and high points. Be diplomatic of course - but we come here for your feelings, so please keep nailing yourself to the wall on our behalf.
if that means anything.
(and thank goodness for the poles!)

Fin said...

Aw, you guys.

I might not be gone for long, we'll see. I'll probably get bored and crave some attention after a while.

But it's nice to know that at least three of you will miss me.

Sal said...

Sorry to hear you're feeling gloomy, Fin, and especially sorry the news isn't good re your ace play moving south. But don't stop blogging! Even though I don't comment often, I enjoy reading your stuff

AcidDrip said...

Fin... if you haven't got something a wee bit controversial to say why bother? I like reading your opinions and half the fun of Blogging is the banter.. so stick to your guns mate. Also why can't you get your show produced Daan Saarf I wonder? Oh yes, View From The Stalls has a very valid point.. anonymous blogging can be very good for venting your spleen.. just not as powerful as when you can put your name to it perhaps.. I just worry that my Blogger opinions might get myself and the Wife Murdered in our beds one night, thats why I stay relatively anonymous - until I can afford ex French foreign legion bodygaurds at least lol

AcidDrip said...

Oh yes, and being Quarter Polish (Grandad) do I get to be a Linked Site on your site yet Fin? ;-)

David Eldridge said...

Chin up Fin.

David Eldridge said...

It's been bothering me that you're not blogging about the things you'd like to Fin. Perhaps, I'm being paranoid, but I've been wondering if the whole infamous row I had in your comments box back in January is part of it. If so I'm sorry about that.

I think the thing is you must write what you want to - as any writer must - but you have to be prepared to take the conseqences of that and take responsibility for your writing.

I don't really say anything bad in public about shows I don't like - or aspects of shows I like but I think are less successful. But on the odd occasion something slips through and you do have to take responsibility.

For example a few days after I made a mildly critical comment about James Macdonald's production of Caryl Churchill's play I ran in to him in the pub. I have to tell you I didn't like that feeling - as apart from anything else seeing the man flesh and blood brought it home to me how difficult it must have been to direct that play. If in the small cliquey theatre world you don't mind negotiating those situations then that's one thing.

The other thing is the comments. Once the blogger or topic starter opens up a subject for slagging then you have to take responsibility for the comments that come back. Even on mine I get anonymous fools trying to start slag-offs

A final thought is one to do with private actions. Almost anyone who works in theatre is privately contactable easily (either via the internet or snail mail). If someone or some work makes you angry why don't you contact the maker privately and engage in a private debate?

JMC and I for example had a private dialogue over the Iraq War debate which was beautifully passionate and provocative and was able to happen because it happened privately - where we could leave our ego's at the door.

We can all sound off because of the frustrations in the writers life - for half his writing life John Osborne did with the best of them - with little regard for anything other than his own anger.

But then despite the brilliance of the man most people thought he was a prize cunt by the time he died.

Fin said...

Alright you bastards, you've cajoled me into explaining myself further.

Honestly, just when i thought it was safe to lay out my towel for a bit of sun, you trick me into making another post...