Friday, January 12, 2018

Why theatre matters

Today was difficult, for all kinds of reasons. I’d arranged to go and see a show at lunchtime, and that didn’t make the day any easier because they’re building student flats next door to the venue and had blocked every access to it except the longest and least accessible and when I eventually got there I was seriously out of breath, convinced I was late, and in dire need of a pee.

But I wasn’t late, when I finally got to the foyer it was full of excited young children and their parents who looked happy because they knew they were giving the children a treat. And so I felt happy to be there too .

The show is called “The Attic” ( ) and it’s the story of a girl and her granny in an attic full of all kinds of unexpected treasures.

I don’t want to review the show, because a long time ago I used to review shows when I couldn’t afford to buy tickets to see them. And I got to loathe reviewing and I somehow have a dread of going back to it.

Really all I want to do is say thank you, because this was a beautiful show that reminded me of something very important. Something that happened years ago when I was about to write my first professionally commissioned play, a thing called LOSING VENICE. 

A time when me and my partner were playing with our daughter in an Edinburgh pub that’s now called The Blind Poet.

Rebecca turned the whole pub into an ocean where the tables were islands and the chairs were boats and which we had to cross, very carefully, because the ocean was infested with sharks.

We weren’t allowed to touch the floor, and people did begin to look at us a little strangely,  and it became so complicated when we had to leave. There was a huge gap between our island/table to the door and we didn’t know how we were going to get out without being eaten by the sharks. 

But Rebecca said we just had to run as fast as we possibly could, and we did that. And then when we got to the bottom of the stairs that led to the exit we relaxed a bit but we had to run up them as well because, as Rebecca said, these were sharks that could climb up stairs.

That set my imagination free to write the play, somehow.

And it helped me understand that the world of make-believe which we inhabit so easily as children never altogether deserts us, however fiercely and cruelly the adult world tries to block our access to it.

That’s the world “The Attic” inhabits, simply and warm-heartedly and irresistibly. So by the end I’d drunk pretend tea out of a doll’s tea cup, and it tasted delicious, and eaten the most amazing piece of knitted chocolate cake, and put on a remarkable hat and danced to the most beautiful music.

We all had, grown-ups and children alike, and came out all the better for it.

Because we all need to go to that place. We all need to witness a piece of drama, in whatever form, whenever we can.

And if we don’t we suffer.

And that’s why I create theatre, and need to keep doing it. And am proud to do so.

And I’m so glad “The Attic” reminded me.

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