Friday, August 27, 2010

I wish reviewers would drop all that crap about passing judgement and awarding ratings.

I wish they'd chuck out all that meaningless shit about stars.

Forget about being experts.

Forget about objectivity: and just write about what they've seen and how they felt about it and describe it, as if describing it to an absent lover.

As I am now.

I wasn't thinking about this as I cycled to the first show this morning, I was thinking about my GOD'S NEW FROCK and my JESUS QUEEN OF HEAVEN and how it might work to turn them into one two act play, with two performers not one, and an interval where the audience could buy ice creams and everything... my show was at ten, and I got there at ten to, expecting there to be a queue, but no the queue had gone, it had all been swallowed up by the theatre, which was full before I arrived, so I needed to go right down the front, and still they kept coming in.

The ushers started saying "Would everyone in the middle try and squeeze closer together", and it made me happy to hear them say that, because it reminded me, my LOSING VENICE, and everyone having to squeeze together to get in.

That was the nearest I got to understanding: I had achieved a success.

The show was by Daniel Kitson, I forget its title, he performed it on a stage of lightbulbs, all at different heights, and one would go on for each moment he was describing in the lives of two really rather ordinary people who only met, once, in the course of their ordinary lives, by accident, and just for a millisecond, and then they passed on without knowing.

There was a step-ladder on stage, too, that he climbed up on sometimes, and moved about, when he was describing a high up moment.

The moments were all over the place, though linked very precisely by time, and they formed an amazing pattern as he was telling them.

And it was just him, and the lightbulbs, and telling these two stories with simplicity and amazing observation, and good humour, and a kind of understated compassion that was very moving.

He could throw in the laughs, too, when it needed one, and it was a kind of celebration, the whole event, a kind of affirmation in its gentle, unassuming and amazingly skilled way.

Everyone loved it. Everyone.

An act of story telling. An affirming act.

And I thought I must stop feeling so isolated... and then as i was getting on the bike to leave I did that that did just that.

Something that utterly isolated me.

That was someone in another show just leaving that I wanted to talk to, only he was talking to somebody else, and the old shyness attacked me and somehow I couldn't go up to him.

I was on my bike, and I couldn't think how to get off it, and I started pedalling thinking, This is going to make you feel wretched, and I knew it would, but somehow that was not enough to stop me.

And then I got home, and I felt wretched.

Lonely, and as if all the stuffing had been knocked out of me.

And I couldn't focus on anything, there's a lot of letters i should be writing, but I couldn't, somehow.

There was the washing that needed bringing in.

And I couldn't somehow.

I thought: I must get out. I must get out of this house.

I went up to the Pleasance to a show that an old student of mine is involved in, someone I respect hugely, very talented.

A devised piece.

I'm devising a piece, I realise, I'm doing this thing too.

So I was curious to see how they did it.

She saw me going in and greeted me, and

... I wanted to love the show, but I didn't much.

I know she can do better, much better, as a writer and as a performer too, and i wanted to say to them:

Work harder. Tell us about the people.

The people you're writing the letters to.

Don't tell us about yourselves. Tell us about the people.

Work harder. Work harder.

I must be turning into a carmudgeon, I thought, as I left, and I'd been meaning to go and see if I could meet her in the bar, but the Pleasance is so big, and i find it a bit scary sometimes (an agoraphobic carmudgeon) and I couldn't bear just to be polite to her.

So I ran away.

Coward, i told myself, but at least when I got home I could bring in the washing.

By some superhuman effort, and cook and eat some supper, and change to go out to Pina Bausch.

My seat is way at the side way at the front of the stalls.

A terrible seat in some ways, but it's rather wonderful to be near the dancers, and sometimes they walk past, and I have a little shiver, I feel star-struck, even though I know they are human, and suffer from nerves and acne and fart like the rest of us.

But up on that stage they are gods.

They are gods and they are angels, and that is why a little shiver goes up my spine as i feel their presence go past me.

The show is called "Agua", water, and is inspired by Brazil.

I know that much, and buy a programme, and then discover I absolutely, but absolutely do not want to read it.

I used to be a dance critic once, and the effort of trying to find accessible words for what i experienced was so extreme.

That hasn't changed.

There were giant screens with huge images, that in one ways dwarfed the dancers: images of the jungle, of the carnival, of the rivers, of a raft sailing through the ocean.

It was as if the dancers had to be overwhelmingly present just to hold their own against these amazing images, the wonderful, often sensuous, often crazy, music.

A succession of moments, moments of the utmost vividness, moments of sensuality, of wit, of staggering beauty.

I don't even want to try to put it into words, because I know I can't...

There's often a moment in my plays when someone says "Long Live Freedom!" and i want a moment of freedom, of abandon, of joyful wild anarchy... like I felt it once in the tomato festival of Tarazona, Buenos dias, squelch, que tal?, squelch, and hitting everyone with tomatoes, and being hit by tomatoes, and processing down the main street, and all kinds of stuff being chucked down from balconies, and then going to the old bull ring and disappearing under the foam, the foam from the foam machines, and emerging, very white and foamy to the bars where everyone poured beer over each other until the early hours of the morning..
But I've never seen it so joyfully, so skillfully, so perfectly realised as at the end of this show, almost three hours into it, and the women doing somersaults in their wonderful silk dresses, opening up like flowers, and on the screen in the back this monstrous, amazing, enormous waterfall, and suddenly they've got bottles of water and they are spraying each other, spraying each other with the water, and this amazing beautiful Brazilian dancer who early on was wearing this amazing dress made of light, and now, drenched, in the midst of it all, dancing the sexiest dance that could ever be imagined...

and o my love, I wish you'd seen it,
I so want to share it with you,
and you too, you reading this,
share it with everyone.

Because we need this.

Now in the midst of darkness. Now.

We need this to help us resist.


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