How do you pass the time when house-arrested by a throat virus gone viral? Sounds like a good chance to catch up on reading but trying to follow a linear thread for more than 5 lines turns my mind to mud. Writing ditto. So this has been a week devoted to sudoku, online scrabble, and trawling FB for Briterati comments and witty clips, in between reluctantly cancelling plans and answering sympathetic enquiries with a determined 'Improving!'
And in a Descartian sense it must be so, because I made it to the finale of The Incubator day of plays in development as part of Shakespeare Unplugged at the Ustinov, to see David Lane's brilliant re-imagining of Coriolanus with the Young People's Theatre. I Am England evoked a near-future England at odds with the rest of Europe and teetering on the brink of war. The disruptive populace, represented in classic tradition by a chorus, are workless hungry and half-feral, and their iron-lady leader sets up conflicted young war-veteran Marc to rally them. Urged on by his belligerent mother to be a hero, warned by his girlfriend he'll be a martyr, Marc chooses finally to speak his own truth, but no-one in the yelling crowd listens: he's irrelevant now 'there’s a version of you out there that's bigger than you ever were.’ Huge energy and passion from the cast of 20 script-in-hand YPs and a strong script combining colloquial language with occasional lyrical grandeur made for a gripping production, which - according to those who know more about Coriolanus than I do - also illuminated the major themes in the original play.
Speaking of gaps in my Shakespearian comprehension, I'm really appreciative that Andrew Hilton, director of King Lear, took time to contact me to explain the costume concept I described a bit disparagingly in a previous post. He writes that change to modern dress towards the end was to express the central theme of a cyclical element in the growth, maturing and collapse of society. I've never not enjoyed a SATF production, and if one of the reasons is their ambitious adventurousness in expressive interpretation, then Lear in a string vest is a small price to pay.
Thanks to Katy Duke, indefatigable illustrator of town life on the Frome People site, for posting images of Frome Poetry Posse on the Westway Stage during the folk festival.
And there's a poem of mine currently featured on Mediterranean poetry, a deliciously cerulean site to browse on a wintry UK day. The link was sent to me by Roger Jinkinson who I met intially on Kythira as a participant on one of my writing courses. Roger, like his fellow course member Christine Coleman, has gone on to publish very successfully and remains a friend - in fact a visit to Chris in Birmingham was one of the plans cancelled by the virulent virus.
Coincidentally, I've had two other reminders of past courses in beautiful locations this week.
Richard Gould who writes graciously of receiving 'encouraging and inspirational tutoring' at The Grange has published his first novel The Engagement Party, and Teddy Goldstein spoke equally charmingly of 'excellent tutelage' at Gardoussel in Languedoc when he wrote to tell me his novel Toxic Distortions has been nominated for the Amazon First Novel award.
Flattery may not get you everywhere but it gets you a link on my blog, boys.