Tuesday, August 09, 2011

"The Cherry Orchard" opens tomorrow

Trying to get to grips this morning with the images of London burning. Of shops being looted. Of the fact that in certain parts of that city, and other cities in England, the authorities had completely lost control.

All these things we used to pride ourselves on never happening here.

It is of course connected with the other devastation that’s occurring throughout the world just now: not in the streets, but on stock market monitors.

Both these catastrophes have been foreseen; there have been endless warnings; they have all been ignored.

It seems frivolous in the midst of all this to be thinking of “The Cherry Orchard”. But in a strange way everything that is happening now happens in that play.

They, too, were warned of approaching catastrophe.

They, too, ignored the warnings.

Living through their experiences as I adapted the play, I was so struck by Chekhov’s compassion for his creations. By his complete ability to get under their skin. And then the extraordinary skill he used to bring this perception onto the stage.

The play opens tomorrow, in the beautiful garden of Duddingston manse.

The forecast is for torrential rain.

So we have had our warnings: and we, too, are ignoring them.

We carry on and hope for the best.

What else is there to do?

My “Losing Venice” opened at the Traverse in this festival in 1985.

In it I remember writing:

“The clouds gather. The storm is rising.
And it will come. Nothing can stop it.
We know. We laugh when we can;
We live, as we must.
Fear eats away our hearts. Will it spare us,
We wonder, will it spare or children?
Yet what can we do? Tear down our city?
Label the stones and move them, stone by stone,
Rebuild them on the higher ground?
All our energy is taken up with living.
Besides, is there any mountain high enough
to hide us,
Is there depth enough in any cave?

I doubt it. Crying is easy,
Laughter requires a little more strength.”

My younger daughter had just been born. I remember in the bar after the first night everyone wanted to give her a cuddle and she was passed around from arm to arm in a joyous celebration of the play’s success.

Now she’s grown up and is writing for a magazine. She lives in Brixton.

I fear for her; but like her sister, her courage and intelligence and human goodness give me courage and strength.

We need it.

The orchard is being chopped down.

The storm has come.
Powerful ideas Jo. You make beautiful words. What do we do with these, the ones in your blog? What's important? Really important.
Art for life?
Yepi X
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