Sunday, September 07, 2008

7th September 2008

A dark, grey, cold day. No light in the sky. The prospect of winter feels unbearable.

Deep back ache keeps me at home. Down at the base of the spine: it’s the kind that usually tells you you’ve taken on too much, you need to slow down.

And it’s true: I’m trying to finish EVERYONE, but I’m also thinking about JESUS, QUEEN OF HEAVEN, and LEAVE TO REMAIN and the two poems I’m writing for the HIDDEN CITIES project.

But there’s something else, I can’t help thinking. Perhaps it was easier before to put up with the state theatre is in here; my self esteem was low, I didn’t really believe I deserved the best.

But now, as I struggle to finish this play, it’s as if I can’t bear to think of it going the way of all the others: opening when still under rehearsed, playing for its three weeks and then disappearing.

Because I am so dependent on the context in which I work, I feel a kind of angry despair at the thought that because theatre here and now is so woefully falling short of its potential as an art form I will never be able to reach my full potential as an artist.

They’re performing Messaien’s gigantic opera, St. Francois d’Assise, at the Proms tonight. It’s never had a full production here, of course; but Pierre Audi has just produced it in Amsterdam. Pierre Audi who I briefly encountered in 1986, when I think he was still running the Almeida. Which was when Losing Venice was performed there. He now runs a huge opera house which has the facilities to stage this vast opera: his career has moved on. Mine, I suspect, has stood still.

I think of Faust and realise to an extent I am being unjust to myself; but I read JESUS out loud this afternoon and I am horrified to think the only way I can realise my artistic desires is to operate on the tiniest scale imaginable.

And there’s Messaien with his cast of 240 musicians. Having access to them – properly subsidised, superbly trained - extended his range as an artist in way that to me is completely closed.

I don’t know what to do; beyond thinking of him in his prison camp. With four weirdly assorted musicians and a piano with missing notes. (Which is an extreme version of the artistic space I feel stuck in). He still produced amazing music. I must keep on keeping on trying to do the same.

I still feel I am reaching the end of this particular line.

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