It was something I was inspired to do by some African myths that I had read and also another play I had read about some brothers. I decided I wanted to write something about what it means to be a brother. Continue reading →
Ken Campbell was a one-off. Anyone who saw him will remember that he was inimical; he simply couldn’t be replicated. It was in part the wild eyed effervescence and joy, the digressionary tales that beavered off into highways and byways and took such circuituous detours you thought he’d never get back to the main road – or thematic thrust. And then there was the tumbling erudition, pouring out of him, the absurdity of it as well as the cosmic intelligence. And those eyebrows. Set for take-off.
I didn’t see him nearly enough, only catching up with him towards the end of his life when he had practically become a National Treasure. So I missed The Warp, Recollections of a Furtive Nudist, Illuminatus and many more. I think I may have caught The Pidgin Macbeth, Jamais Vu and Theatre Stories.
For anyone wanting to know exactly how the lad from Ilford ended up wowing audiences at the Cottesloe as much as in Liverpool’s Hope Street, look no further than Michael Coveney’s ebullient `authorised biography’ according to the grey parrot who shares Coveney’s cover page.
Coveney’s admiration and appreciation of Campbell as a force of nature and maverick counter-balance to the puffed-up worthies who dominate British theatre shines out from every page. Coveney, another unlikely lad from the Essex marshes, clearly feels affinities with Campbell’s egocentricities as well as his obsessions. There is hardly a dull moment in the entire 250 odd pages and a more engaging, juicy and yes, erudite account of the spirit that animated `alternative’ and fringe theatre through the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s it would be hard to find.
This is a first rate primer of that extraordinary time, filled with egocentricity, sci-fi and paranormal happenings. And unputdownable.
Howard Brenton, extended Q&A interview for The Arts Desk
HOWARD BRENTON – THEARTSDESK – Carole Woddis July 13, 2010
Howard Brenton (b: 1942) is always in the process of being `rediscovered’. Yet Brenton has been at the heart of British theatrical life for the past forty years, since his debut in 1969 with Christie in Love. True he has had the odd decade out of the theatrical limelight – `went out of fashion’ in his own phrase – when he just happened to pen some of the best, liveliest scripts on television with the BBC’s spy drama series, Spooks (2002-2005). Continue reading →
It’s not just the awful events of Paris and Charlie Hebdo that have brought art and politics into public consciousness. Last year we had the Tricycle Theatre accused of anti-semitism for requesting withdrawal of Israeli government funding from the theatre’s annual Jewish Festival; we had a hip-hop musical closed at the Edinburgh Fringe for similar connections with the Israeli government (all in the wake of Israel’s actions in Gaza); and around the same time, violent protests erupted over Exhibit B, the installation-exhibition staged by South African Brett Bailey using black performers as human exhibits to highlight slavery and racism.
The moment you walk into the Octagon you sense the welcome. You notice how patiently the box office manager is taking a customer through her next booking for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, explaining how it sits in the season ticket scheme. 8 shows for £88 if you’re asking; 4 for £54. Pretty good value by anybody’s standards.
`Our Country’s Good, a play that proclaimed the power and enduring worth of theatre and that celebrated its centrality to our lives, was of importance in the third term of a government which deemed `subsidy’ a dirty word.