Jul 2, 2008

Forests, critics, arts centres, fights and hide and seek

Another breathless burst of thoughts in between other things - sorry if that's become the norm in this town (which seems to have taken on the shape of some Western outpost with one guy left sitting on his porch watching bemusedly as I hustle occasionally across the only street in town from the Saloon to the workhouse) but alas turns out the summer is a busy time of year.

And Summer it definitely now is with Wimbledon bringing out the quaintly middle-class hat wearer in all of us and the Edinburgh Festival drawing mighty close. As you may know I'm co-running a venue this year called Forest Fringe with my delightful Canadian friend Debbie Pearson (and it was Canada Day yesterday so up the cannucks once more).

We've pretty much managed to haul the programme over the finish line now and the whole thing is up on the venue's beautiful new website. We also have a blog which I thought it worth me starting to try and write a bit for so with that in mind I've decided to revive the idea of the company profiles I did for Aurora Nova last year to give people a better idea of who some of the people that will be performing at Forest are. So hopefully I'll start writing those over the course of the next couple of weeks and they'll start appearing here.

For the purpose of trying to focus more on this (and on Exposures in Dublin in September) I've also (rather terrifyingly) finished working for BAC and am now 100% freelance (or 100% unemployed if you wanted to look at things more bleakly). It's been a completely lovely (and relatively life-changing) year working for them and I'm sure I'll probably continue to do things with them so BAC-relate will continue to be kept to a minimum round here for fear of appearing biased.

There's also another article by me up at the Guardian where I'm rather scathing about a night I went to a little while ago at the Southwark playhouse. At the time I was left completely incensed by the entire experience but now (about a week later when the post finally bobbed to the surface at the Guardian) I'm feeling a lot more torn. Is it really necessary to be so vicious about something, especially if it's not a review? Probably not is the answer and its just childish petulance on my part to write such things and the comments have pretty much born this out.

But then other the other hand I did receive an email from a writer saying that he agreed with me and that it was about time that someone blew the whistle on their particular brand of superficial and relatively smug political engagement.

Since I've been writing this quite a few people have said to me that they think its brave/foolhardly/downright stupid and childish and self important (delete as appropriate) to write so much publicly about theatre when at the same time trying to make it. And there is a part of me that every time one of these articles goes up does sink a little thinking that possibly that's another several column inches down in the grave I'm so tirelessly digging for myself. But at a time when people won't stop going on about the importance of peer review, surely we should be able to take a bit of criticism from each other? Of course I guess the difficulty comes in the arena of the internet where those personal criticisms swim dangerously close to what feels like solid statement-of-fact reviewing, especially on the Guardian Blog.

I've seen bloody and fascinating arguments that have flown back and forth between people such as Chris Goode, Simon Kane, David Eldridge, Tassos Stevens and myself and I think that bruised and bemused though we may have been by them we're all probably better for it. But for the most part those conversations have remained in areas that are decidedly more personal than the Guardian Theatre Blog and perhaps that's where I overstepped the mark this time.

Either way, this whole episode combined with Helen Smith's description of me as passionate-to-the-point-of-appearing-angry has left me thinking that perhaps I should try and adopt a somewhat mellower tone from now on. We'll see how that works out.

In the meantime please do go have a read of this utterly lovely review of Checkpoint, the game I created for the Hide + Seek Festival at the South Bank centre. It was a glorious day and I hope there are many more like it soon.

1 comment:

Helen Smith said...

Hi Andy

I truly mean it as a compliment when I say you get angry about theatre - I take it as a sign that you care. I know (as you have written as much on this blog) that you're ambitious and trying to make your way in the theatre and so I also see your willingness to engage in arguments as a sign of integrity. I'm a bit mealy-mouthed about everything myself and that's not really a good thing.

Helen xx