Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cows, carnage, and festival creatures

In the week Gove shocked the sentient nation by extending his megalomaniac tweaks to the Literature curriculum by a purge of international classics ~ to be fair he didn't actually demand burning of all copies of To Kill a Mocking Bird and Steinbeck's Mice & Men though he might as well have from the fury evoked (including mine) ~  Lynn Gardner gave me respite from despair at our 'spoilers for sadness' culture in a delicate demurral to Alan Bennett's view of the playwright's craft. With hindsight, the National Treasure said, he should have been kinder to the audience. The Queen Mum of theatre commentary, with due respect, shifts from agreement at the joy of 'floating out of the theatre on a cloud of pleasure' to a more vigorous view:
 I also want to come out of the theatre on occasion feeling riled, angry, fired up for action or as if my heart is breaking... Yes I love being charmed and delighted in the theatre, but I don't want to be killed with kindness by artists, I want to be provoked by them and made to look at the world differently. I want to be taken outside my comfort zone. If that sometimes means they are going to risk boring me, offending me or even being cruel to me, then I'm not going to complain. Great art is seldom easy or kind.  I so agree. As Banksy said, art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. Lynn's piece used a picture of King Lear but I'm using Guernica.

Coincidentally ~ this is not one of my contorted segueways ~ Nevertheless Pub Theatre is currently preparing for our next production War Zones: six 10-minute dramas which will be performed at the Cornerhouse for Frome Festival in July, 4th-13th. We've got two great actors so Rosie & I are getting quite excited about that one. There's a line-up on the Festival website of other wordy events, ranging from Moomins for adults to Teatime Treats for children, including talks, performances, a book quiz, and poetry workshops from me and Rose Flint whose inspiring poem Elements of Healing you may have seen featured in the RUH in Bath.
Rose lives on the outskirts of Frome on a dairy farm which I rarely visit, having a psychosomatic allergy to free-ranging bovine creatures (also equine, ovine, porcine and canine... anything bigger than a cat, basically.) But this farm having recently won BBC4's Food & Farming Award for 'outstanding contribution with cutting-edge thinking and creative ideas' ~ and Rose having provided strawberry-pink Wellington boots to replace my Edina-ish high-heels ~ I ventured forth. The big thing about Lordswood Farm is that all the cows are fed on grass not grain, and even though these ones were (safely) ensconced in the dairy yard they still had plenty of grass to nosh on. So here's a happy image to conclude.

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