Blog Digest from my original blog on 123-reg

Day 1 – The Record Begins…

by rationalmadness on Sat 08 Jul 2006 10:34 AM BST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

Pavilion Gardens Cafe, Brighton, UK

I have let go of a connection to a very close friend. This is about the fifth time I have done this in the last two years, and the fifth time I have done it in my entire life.

The feeling of loss is enormous. Purely selfish really – this person inspired me in all kinds of ways. I am almost certain she believes I am playing some kind of “power game” as she tends to project underhanded motives onto a lot of people. What I am left with is the enormous sense of loss at someone I care deeply for and felt a strong connection with – so often confused with romance, our deeper soul friendships sometimes skirt the border between love and “romance”.

I do create confusion despite the fact that I am pretty true to my course on one thing in life – that we label each other and the situations between us, at our peril.

The way some people who fear the worst motives in others accept both praise and gifts is tragically interesting. They accept the praise, for example, but cut the string, sever the connection with the person who offered it. But take it they do. The receiver then adds the praise or gift to their store and behaves towards the giver as if they NEVER gave it.

It can never be wrong to want to keep the conscious connection between DEED and MOTIVE. When we lose it, we go to war, and see each other as demons.

In the past I have remained there, reaching out into thin air.

Not any more. This time I have severed the connection on an even deeper level, And I doubt any short term good can come of it.

Denmark is still floating in the air around me after a three day trip to Copenhagen and a workshop that explored the use of “social software”. Can we ever truly engage with each other via “messenger” or chat rooms or “WIKIS” or blogs? Do we create a kind of poor copy of the world and then adjust our expectations down and then grow used to them, calling the mediocre excelllent, and then falling asleep to what we are truly capable of?

I have noticed that when I type directly into this box, I use more cliches than when I right laboriously by hand!

A blue sky and this summer day in England. A few people will drop by as the day progresses. I love cafe life; outdoor encounters over tea and smiles.

The Weather Turns and the Big Black Book

by rationalmadness on Sun 09 Jul 2006 11:03 AM BST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

The weather turned and a wetting, breezy rain is blowing in from the sea. Clouds at fog-level. Still T-Shirt-warm for a fire-sign!

A chat with David Knowles yesterday in Pavilion Gardens under a burning sun. It’s hard enough to change your personality, it’s virtually impossible to change your character. We’ve set a date for an evening “study/reading” group to look at the work of Rudolf Steiner. Planting seeds for the darker evenings, with hot chocolate, good company and some inspiring chat.

A key skill of our day: to learn to remain skilfully silent.

From the “big” black note book:

“It has become fashionable to be numb.”

“For the generation of today, we have to find a way of philosophising that doesn’t actually say anything to anybody about anything.”

“What is something outside of the system plays, unnoticed, into the system?”

“Common sense says it isn’t good to be in a constant state of dissatisfaction. Common sense also says it isn’t good nor healthy to NEVER be in a state of dissatisfaction.”

“In an age where people are impatient for instant gratification, un-numbing isn’t an acceptable option, because un-numbing often generates alarmingly uncomfortable pins and needles, which can take a good while to go away.”

“It is only when you make your own thinking an object of your own observation for long enough, and in real time, that you start to experience your point of observation as being geographically removed from your body. It’s like observing your shadow – you know it is part of you, joined to you yet, there you stand, separate from it.”

“It is more than possible to function for years in a repetitive, pressurised organisational machine, as long as you nurture your addictive nature.”

All change…

by rationalmadness on Mon 10 Jul 2006 09:56 AM BST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

A humid but cloudy day. I am not remotely interested in the World Cup but did think the dramatic quality of the head butt was interesting. The focus on the drama of it eclipsed the football entirely. Violence has crept into our lives in a way that is both horrific and very theatrical.

My play “The Swastika Party” will have to undergo a name change if we are to perform it in the East End of London. It isn’t a political play and I don’t want it hijacked into anyone else’s agenda. Given the changes in recent London elections with the British National Party gaining the protest vote, the play deserves to be clear of those agendas. Current front-runners are:

Dancing in the Dark

The Seventh Rule

and Darkness Dancing

Not entirely happy with any of them, though the first appeals most.

Wrote a letter from the ehart yesterday about “friendship” which was a theme of discussion with Anna and Ollie from the Institute of Unnecessary Research. We concluded that it can be in the nature of friendships that imbalances (in the long run) of what we all put “into the put” can be a main cause of mutual anger. Friendship isn’t about trading. Ollie said it is about “return on investment”.

Is friendship something you invest in? Is it fair on unfair to seek a return on that investment? Not sure.

I am very interested in “synergy” and “reciprocity” at the moment. Can there be synergy in a group with reciprocity? Comments welcome.

The Innovation Centre Cafe. A mug of Fair Trade Tea and my usual morning energy to type and write. This place is such a mix of suits and T-shirts. The generations and the paradigms share the same building. I am sure they have very different definitions of what it means to “Innovate”!

A day at the Barbican

by rationalmadness on Tue 11 Jul 2006 11:38 PM BST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

A day at the Barbican in London checking out the venue for a conference.

A concrete jungle – literally. A 60s vision of the future – such a poor vision. We will make it work! We’ll transorm it into a place fit for a conversation!

Also checked out the New Players Theatreunder Charing Cross Station. An eerily wonderful 250-seater with a bar out of a wonderful dream-nightmare. A sense of ghosts, this was an old musical hall theatre – long and narrow with long galleries on either side. And, of course, the sound of underground trains rumbling below! This one is going to visit a dream soon. It could work for The Swastika Party, it was a real “London Below” feel. And wonderfully under-lit.

Still the wound of a lost friend doesn’t heal.

A beach party in Brighton. Lovely to see the sun setbting over West Brighton.

Initiator Addiction

by rationalmadness on mer 12 jui 2006 22:57 BST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

Another day at Pavilion Gardens Cafe, in the sun and, surprisingly, a day devoid of buskers! No opera by karaoke, no weird guitar, and no string duets.

An interesting chat with Anna from the Institute of Unnecessary Research. I am now on their inert Advistory Board.

Anna wants to get companies to sponsor “Nothing”. What would emerge from the funded-void?

We are setting up a support group called “I.A”. Initiators Anonymous. A support group for people (like us) who are addicted to initiaing things.

It reminds me of my idea of Facilitation Addiction – facilitators who can never switch off from being in facilitation mode – professionally or socially.

An evening in front of the movie Judge Dredd. Wonderful relaxation after working on http://www.thecriticalincident.com

Joys of the Pavilion Paradise

by rationalmadness on jeu 13 jui 2006 11:55 BST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

Anaother day in Paradise – with tea and a rock cake.

Updated the web site – all tidy and a bit crazy – the web site that is!

What more is there to say on a day like this?

Oh, met an old friend and we discussed how one can get into the habit of setting goals that always keep one striving. In the end the sriving becomes depressing, especially if it is always financial. Just another £xxx…

Setting goals that are within our grasp – is that mediocrity? Or sometimes does it make life sustainable and happy?

The Catalyst CLub in the Evening – three talks. One on the glories of Marmite (very funny and touching), one about Insanity delivered by a psychiatrist who is convinced that society creates mental illnesses in order for them to be treatable. And then a talk by Fake Bush on Kate Bush! WHat a terrific night!

A busy day and the Cure for Steiner

by rationalmadness on Fri 14 Jul 2006 23:01 BST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

A day in Pavilion Gardens – a breezy, blowly wind of change on a day when someone I care for threw it all away in anger and fear.

Lunch in the museum cafe – I am coaching two directors who are like brothers with all the good and bad that such closeness brings in business.

A fine slice of chocolate cake with a Cranberry and Orange Cooler.

Further discussions with friends back at Pavilino Gardens and then a truly fine barbecue at the Steiner School. Andrew “You can see their eyes light up – it makes it all worthwhile”.

The band played on – a guitarist from the Cure and a garden full of “Steiner school” parents, children and friends. Warm friends. Warming more and more in the chill of a sea evening.

The sun rises, the sea is higher than the land – it’s up there in the sky

by rationalmadness on Sat 15 Jul 2006 09:25 AM BST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

In over twenty years of working “socially” I have had run-ins with very few people. In workshops of course there are explosions, people show anger towards each other and, often, they shoot the facilitator. But when the dust settles, there is ground on which to build.

But of the many hundreds of encounters, relationships and friendships over the years, I have had a “serious break” with about a handful.

Any pattern I ask myself? I think it is certainly, on my part, an element of Levyness. We tend to show our generosity and seek “validation” of it; we tend to offer well-intentioned advice based on “why not come up here, the view is fine from here, go on, go on, go on” which pushes the buttons of quite a few people I am sure, but seems to trigger an explosion in a few.

It comes down to a restlenessness for RECIPROCITY.

More on this later, but this sentence came up yesterday:

“When I give you something, you owe me nothing in return. But I want something back.”

Off to town. And breakfast. And sunshine.

It is so important that, whatever we do, we never really mean anyone any harm.

In favour of the work – a work in progress and a pot of tea

by rationalmadness on sam 15 jui 2006 10:59 BST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

Breezy, seagully Pavilion Gardens.

A novel in the bag to read. A novel in the head to finish.

And a work in progress…

In favour of the work

I am not sure if we have always been as pragmatic as we are today.

This pragmatism has eroded the importance of the work in favour of the “being in work”. It is a pragmatism that says “You can have my full commitment when…” It adds footnotes to vocation, small print to passion.

Such pragmatism is all the more compellingly awful in my view because of this: it is so acceptable at a day-to-day level.

However, as we focus on our Darwinistic needs, it has certain outcomes on the stage that inhibit performance. Essentially this: You cannot look your fellow actor in the eye in a way that electrifies an audience if, at the same time, you have half an eye on your invoices. You cannot set off passionately forwards if part of you is busy looking over your shoulder or, worse, out in the audience to see if an agent is there.

It is a harsh reality for many actors – indeed many people in life – that financial pressures dictate the kind of work they feel they have to do. Also, it is often a justification given for being “mean” and “cautious” – “I can’s afford NOT to.”. The price for many is too great, especially when they look back from a longer term perspective. Each act of “meanness” and “mistrust” adds up and becomes habitual, turning into a suit of armour that eventually rusts onto them, even sticking to the skin. Imagine that metaphor as clearly as you can. Then imagine an actor, wearing that armour, confusing it for skin, lumbering sluggishly around the stage, attempting to be flexible and sprightly

Confession Time

by rationalmadness on Sun 16 Jul 2006 11:03 AM BST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

Pavilion Gardens. Morning Sunday Sun.

I am sure I irritate a lot of people. In most cases they forgive the irritations as they are outweighed by the non-irritating bits of me. In a few cases – and it has been a handful over twenty years – the irritant is too great.

I am a fixer. I was called by an ex once a “do-gooder” and she intended it as an insult. I was brought up to show generosity to people, but also to sek acknowledgement for it. Getting acknowledgement makes you feel good. In many cases it is a sign of insecurity – it can also (and I think this in my case) a sign of a wish to connect and find synergy – the notion that we are more and better together as a community than separate and cut off from each other. So I see generosity as never just one-to-one, but always the gesture of adding to the pot of humanity as a whole.

In the handful of cases, the people “want their cake and eat it” – they offload their hopes and needs and I go into “fix it” mode – they accept each “gift” as a string of “one-offs” to which they say thankyou at first, and then, as time goes, they take it all for granted, and don’t even bother to say thank you. And there’s me adding insult to the injury they feel being “a taker” by seeking validation and reminding them of what they have accepted.

No one who knows me well doubts my community-spirit. I do plenty of it and do sincerely believe that it is through community, not population-wide Prozac, that we will find happiness as a world. I see the “gifts”, the “support” as an investment and the only return I seek is a bit of warmth and I do push for those people to put something back into the community pot, and also to see their “gifts” not just as a one off, but also as a longer term investment in themselves, in order that THEY might be better community members – in whatever way they choose to express that.

But this seeking for acknowledgement really gets up some people’s noses. They see it as my attempt to gain control over them. And I do nothing to stop that view by push, push, pushing for them to acknowledge that what they TAKE, they ought to give something back, not to ME but into the community pot. And I happen to be a member of that community.

I am a fool in that. An idiot. Because to want to give up for the sake of synergy, takes a lot of self-belief and trust in the world. And these are te very people who, for reasons often to do with their character, or their past, have very little faith in the innate goodness of others. They don’t have faith in the possbility of synergy – that the whole (community) is greater than the sum of the parts.

So, I am a predator, not a friend. A control freak and a manipulator, not a community worker and ally. But they can’t quite bring themselves to refuse the continued support (as I continue to try to fix and mend) – they accept the cash, the job offers, the help.

Hear my confession – they can’t help it. I can. And I am sorry. To all of you I have given to. You owe me nothing. I seek nothing from you in return. It was given in freedom – do what you want with it in freedom. The community door is never closed…

Went to the Erotic Food Festival yesterday at Brighton Marina. To be honest, there wasn’t much in the form of eroticism there, though there were champagne and oysters, a chocolate fountain and chocolate mud wrestling. Oh, and you could buy “erotic beer” – a very English take on eroticism I think.

Something tells me that the entire “war” in the Middle East is currently in the hands of about 12 people who are the last people on earth who should have even the remotest influence on events there. Still, makes for great radio and TV.

Now finalising the theatre “tour” – we have 7 dates so far and that is without any touring “booking” – so I am very pleased. I may employ a tour booker for a month to see what we can drum up. Never tried that before.

A conversation this week and a few thoughts: I have heard the argument before – “What they don’t know can’t hurt them”. It is the justification for keeping a secret from someone. Looking back over my life I have tended towards NOT keeping things from people which puts me through more difficulty than most but the calm AFTER the storm is always better than the storm that goes on and on. There never seems to be good arising from people finding out they ahve been deceived.

Jolie, my 96 year-old friend often refers to the “Little white lies” people tell as being as bad as big lies. A lie is a lie is a lie. Forget the morality of it – lies that are found out cause scenes of anguish, anger and destruction. Lies that aren’t found out can sit pretty for a very long time indeed and only eat up the liar if they have a conscience. The seeking for immediate gratification often is at the root of the white lies. Who can challenge someone’s wish to be happy or gratified in the short term? I sit in no judgement of the people or their actions but do see the longer term inevitable earthquake and eruption that usually makes the person wish they had just been honest and come OUT WITH IT in the first place!

My studio is too hot for any kind of work, so today will be an office with the seagulls, the pigeons and the god-awful opera karaoke apocalypse.

Rest in peace.

The Girl Next Door and Standing on the Threshold

by rationalmadness on Tue 18 Jul 2006 11:13 AM BST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

The girl next door isn’t drinking her hot chocolate, she is making love to it with her tongue. It’s quite obscene in an outdoor public place and highly inspiring. Her Mac laptop is probably capturing it all on camera and, even as I write this, she is probably publishing it “Eroticdrinkinginpublic.com” or somesuch web emporium.

I standing on the threshold of dates. I am about to put some theatre labs in the diary for the year ahead. We’ll have some evening and day time workshops for actors (http://groups.msn.com/theatrelab) and also some events for The Critical Incident. I am also thinking of employing someone part-time to tour book our shows. The thing is – if I put these dates in the diary I am committed to them! (Of course, I am not really, but I am enjoying the sense of drama in this haven of pigeon poop and roadworks drills called Urban Nature).

The gesture of diarising is interesting though. I do hold back these days – a lovely, pause – before saying “alright, YES, let’s do it. The word “do” is big in my life. So often I find myself asking people who come for mentoring “what are you going to DO about it”. or “so, what are you going to DO then?”. The reluctance to commit is very endemic in Brighton. I often commit tooquickly and have been enjoying the pause recently – what Gandalf in tghe movie version of Lord of the Rings calls “The deep breath before the plunge.”. Well, if she can plunge her tongue so readily into that hot chocolate with whipped cream, then I can plunge into my diary – oh, and ‘ll have a hot chocolate too.

From a “Club” in Portman Square, London

by rationalmadness on Wed 19 Jul 2006 03:16 PM BST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

From the pigeon-invested outdoors of Pavilion Gardens to the Woodock-infested indoors of the exclusive Home House (there is woodcock on the lunch menu) – http://www.homehouse.co.uk/

A meeting lasting 4 hours, some wonderful assam tea in bone china cups and some very engaging talk amidst the planning for an umpteenth event and a conference.

I have never fired anyone. The reason I self-dwarf (keep my business small) is I fear to ever have to fire anyone. I find it hard enough to cut ties informally and, as a result, have an address book full of people many of whom have moved on or I should have simply said goodbye to – one way or another.

I am getting better at it. Space is emptiness but also the ground on which possibility is built. Space can be scarey but it is also the pause between the lines in a play. Truly great actors have the courage to cut short a pause but also to make it uncomfortable long (and not feel the discomfort – now’s there’s a paradox!).

I have learned to power this year of doing things simply and with much less fuss than I have tended to in the past. Sometimes I withdrawl (quiet and clear) is better than smashing walls to create space. Sometimes it better to let things end without forcing an ending. Interestingly I am good at this in my writing – but less good at it in life.

But, hey, I’m learning.

Space to recover. Space to be nothing for a while. Space to get insitently restless to create and – space to create.

“And if I were a braver me I’d go travelling;

I dream about it every night, it’s unravelling;

Space! I need space…”

Martha Tilston, singer

The Blog is steaming with the heat of an English Tropical Summer

by rationalmadness on Thu 20 Jul 2006 12:02 PM BST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

My laptop is almost too hot to touch. It makes typing very staccato and quite deft.A bizarre summer really – a Lebanese summer, an Israeli summer, a Syrian Summer, An Iranian Summer. Of course, we have water on tap and no one is bombing here except for the usual incendaries of cool indifference and the air strikes of suspicion.

We have our own war here – it rages in the shadows of niceness. It is a lurking war, yet underneath the lurk, there are daily air strikes upon the souls of us all. And the bombers are bombing themselves. Tats’s an interesting thing about being a spirit. Youcan be in two places as once and drop massive bombs on your own soul. Boom, boom,.boom..

Twenty-eight in the shade…

Had a relaxing journey back from London yesterday and a train where people were relaxed (always get a train outside of the rush hour). I still love arriving home in Brighton, stepping out of the station into Queens Road and seeing the sea in the distance.

At that angle, looking down it looks like a tsunami, waiting to wash away our mediocrity. It will climb up the cliff and rise up West Street, washing away the Night clubs and Wetherspoons. It will sluice into the 99p shop and finally lap at my feet at Platform 5.

Hot days, weird thoughts…

40 Degrees centigrade Underground, 42 in the smoking room

by rationalmadness on Fri 21 Jul 2006 08:29 PM BST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

A workshop at Home House, Portman Square, London. Oil Paintings, gilded this and that, a huge mahogany board room table, 7 people and the heat.

We retreated to the Desert Tent in the garden where a bar served Pimms with Strawberries and Cucumber and we ruminated on the nature of communication. Do our systems shape us or do we shape our systems? Is it possible to socialse virtually?

People remark on the smallness of my mini-laptop and I look surrogately sheepish and beautiful like sweet Diana used to behind the ears of Charles.

Then onto the Central Line and a veritable sauna. You can probably imagine how hot it was. How genuinely uncomfortable. Still, there was more eye contact as people sensed death closing in.

Decided to stay up in London and see the folks. Home cooking, childhood memories and I am now sitting in the garden relaxing to the water feature and the sound of a very drought-ashamed watering can.

Ghosts and sheds

by rationalmadness on Mon 24 Jul 2006 07:31 PM BST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

Spent a few days in london with the family. There is nothing like mum’z home cooking. Dad is a genius and does things with the house that I could never do – this time he put a floor down in the shed in an hour. I hope I have his energy at 75! He truly is an inspiration. As is mum, beavering away on the computer and entertaining ghost hunters for tea with photos on show taken by dad and featured in the Fortean Times!

Wakehurst Himalayas

by rationalmadness on Thu 27 Jul 2006 04:26 PM BST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

Spent a very relaxed day with a friend atWakehurst Place, a National Trust enormous set of gardens in the heart of Sussex. We drove around the kin d of England that is genuinely beauitful – windy lanes and tunnels of trees and bushes. Dave’s open-toped Mazda added to the thrill of speed and breeze which, for a non-driver like me brings us to the verge of crashing at every turn. Thrilling.

Wakehurst plac. Gardens, gardens oh, and more gardens. We walked in an awe-inspiring thunder-storm with fork lightining – we sheltered under a …tree. Well, it was ENGLISH lightning. It stepped politely to the side of us.

A fine lunch followed by tea in the little tea shop at the back of the antique shop in Lindfield. Every kind of cake, muffins,crumpuets and scones, keeman tea and a glass wooden cabinet of home based delights.

Home-made Jam (£2.20) and much discussion about the first evening of our Steiner study group the previous evening up at the new CATS3000 meeting parlour. A really engaging first evening overlooking rooftopped Brighton and Pavilion miniarettes. Steiner is food for thought and we chewed over much on the first few pages of “First Steps towards Spiritual Development” – it isn’t off the planet at all but both coolly and warmly logical. We’ll meet again nexy month – six of us so far, pots of tea and fresh coffee, cookies and chocolate. A study group that will be relaxed, based on self-discipline and little structure.

Things move apace with the development of Rational Madness. I wish a friend well as she heads to Edinburgh under her own steam. We remain behind building for a tour of shows – I am employing a tour booker. We’re getting a bit more serious about it all, It’s invigorating to move forward in trust with reliable folk in a community where synergy is really possible. Really possible.

Breakfast tomorrow with two fine souls – we’ll go to Bill’s and I will devour crumpets, toast and Bill-made jam. Tea. Juice. And that most nutritious of starts to any fine day: warm conversation. (It’s better than porridge).

Breaking My Own World Record

by rationalmadness on Sat 29 Jul 2006 10:06 AM BST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

Pavilion Gardens, the weather has turned slightly – it is cool and lovely. Still short-sleeve weather, the seagulls are in full flight and horrific song. Wisps of cloud are moving speedily across the 10am sky.

I broke my own world record yesterday for the shortest trip to London. I spent exactly 16 minutes in a meeting, turned around and came straight back. It felt marvellous.

I felt as if I were operating at ten times the speed of everyone else. Even walking along the Strand to catch the pre-rush-hour 1606 back to Brighton, it was as if everyone else was stuck in slow motion.

Back up to London today to the family and then on to Prague for a week.

Made the snap decision to go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year again and facilitate a workshop and possibly a design meeting for Critical Incident 2007 in Edinburgh. It was nice to re-establish the warm connections of the year before.

First class train up, and a flight back.

Now Edinburgh will be a place where everyone else will be going about at ten times the speed of me. And that is just how I like it.

I looked into a pair of eyes yesterday that speak of an eternal connection. And then dreamt of a disastrous theatre show! Time for new pillows…

Castles, marionettes and dumplings

by rationalmadness on Mon 31 Jul 2006 10:41 PM BST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

Arrived in Prague with two very fine people – my mum and dad! A smooth flight with some rare and genuinely warm service on board! The Palace Hotel is the lap of luxury with internet access at £20 per day! I headed straight for reception to break a collusion.

It was lovely just to wander around this beauitful city with its history, it’s castles, churches, trams and ice cream delights.

Tried a dark beer. I am no beer drinker but this was delicious and scarily big.

A day of sightseeing tomorrow, I am slowly seeking the writers’ vibe, the traces of bohemia and its cafes.

I feel an urge to buy a new note book, a pen and to find some tea, a table and a thousand words or so…

Pisspoor Reviewers

by rationalmadness on Tue 08 Aug 2006 07:28 PM BST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

Pisspoor Reviewing

The world of “judgement” in art has always been a bit of an awkward mystery to me. On the one hand I meet a vast number of people who claim that no one should judge anyone else. No one has the “right” to tell anyone what to do. No one has the right to “invade another’s space” with their judgmentalism. On the other I have met some of those very same people doling out judgment as “temporary reviewers” as Festivals. The biggest arts festivals become a sudden recruiting ground for a very large number of wannabe judges. I have spoken to some of them and watched others in action. Some do actually write the review in their head BEFORE seeing a show based on a love of the sheer power of it. Others simply have a fear of writing well and so pre-concoct reviews from a combination of borrowing from others’ clichés and choice phrases, combined with their own made-up clumsiness or use of stereotyping as a literary crutch.

Trashing a show early in a festival is an easy thing for a poor reviewer to do. It gives them confidence and a “story to tell”. For some with even half a heart, it gets the “worst over with” at the start. Other reviewers like to bring work crashing down to earth (whether it is good or not) simply because it has warmth, which the particular “judger” fears for various reasons from their own biography. The disastrous combination for any theatre company or performer is the mix of a warm-hearted show (or indeed anything with a message) and a reviewer who is still trying to get surrogate revenge on his/her parents for “telling me what to do”.

It is shocking and sad enough that the various so called quality newspapers and magazines recruit such pisspoor people in the first place, often from equally pisspoor amateur publications. But the big irony is that the very people who have often suffered at the hands of judgmental parents, lecturers or partners, now apply the same clumsy and heavy-handed destruction to shows which, by any COMMON SENSE view, are well put together, demonstrate creativity or talent.

I have no personal axe to grind her and have made a fine living from the theatre work I am engaged with. I only care for the work and the warm and genuine response we get from our audiences. But the Darwinistic hatcheting that masquerades as “reviewing” is often cruel and massively harmful to well-intentioned and energetic people. A bad show is a bad show. But a good show at a festival can suffer the crime of being trashed on day one by talentless, pisspoor reviewing.

It’s okay for someone not to like a show. It’s okay for someone to say why a show is badly written or directed, staged or performed. But it will never be okay for a pisspoor reviewer to pursue an agenda against an artist, to mock them out of clumsy cruelty, or to simply be allowed to NON-review a show because the newspaper or magazine is either corrupt or incompetent.

Examples of pisspoor reviewing include:

– a reviewer trashing a show when just about every audience member (representing a broad cross section of humanity often) adored it for COMMON SENSE reasons of it being well staged, written and delivered. The least the reviewer should so is report to future potential audiences what the majority reaction was.

– a reviewer engaging in REGION-bashing or even stereotyping

– a reviewer trashing a show not our of any review of the show’s quality but by allowing personal irritations to take the review over

– a reviewer trying to be clever with the review at the expense of a review that allows future audiences to gain insight into the work. Often the pisspoor reviewer fails to be satirical or ironic, but is downright nasty and cruel for its own sake

– a POOR review of a show simply because the reviewer “feels like it” or is trying to balance the number of poor reviews with the good ones for the day

At the end of the day, the reviewer moves on to the next show or “cocktail party”. But like a burglar or a mugger, they don’t wait around long enough to smell the stench their piss has left all over a group of human beings. In 20 years of theatre, a NEGATIVE review that is constructive is nearly always FINALLY taken on board by a theatre group, writer or director. But a pisspoor review simply contributes to yet more sadness and negativity in an already cold and cynical world.

The Blog’s holiday is over

by rationalmadness on Wed 06 Sep 2006 10:56 AM BST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

It’s been nice NOT to blog for a bit.

Back from the Danish Spooky Island, the catacombs, the pickled fish and the Skum.

Tribal Earth at Midnight in the Rain

by rationalmadness on Wed 06 Sep 2006 02:57 PM BST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

http://www.tribalearth.co.uk

A day in a large meeting tent in a mixture of sun and rain, we pow-wowed together about our past, present and futures. What were our earliest memories, we shared these in the present tense. Where are we now – we talked of our present using the past tense.

We tinkered with time in round the circle conversation, with organic cakes and tea and coffee, watching the rain, all cosy in our large cafe tent, cushions, rugs and good company.

Then it was midnight and the peformance tent was lit beauitfully, an orange hue to the place as Michaela Bull danced the story of Lilith and told us her story.

I was proud to be part of helping this show onto the stage at Tribal Earth and the wind and rain that battered the tent only added to the magical atmosphere created by the piece and the performance. The audience loved it.

I went to face my fears and ended up facing a Danish Business man with a torch

by rationalmadness on Wed 06 Sep 2006 03:06 PM BST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

Back from Denmark – I was astounded I wasn’t sea sick in a Force 8 gale in a tiny boat which took as to and fro from Middelgrund Island – a man-made fortress-cum-hotel-cum-management training centre-cum spooky scooby island retreat.

I went inside and calmed and really enjoyed the bumpy, splashy trip.

Back on the island, we went into the catacombs as part of this Leadership Programme I facilitate during day 1. Darkness, torches, a supposed ghost called Tora I set off on my own into the blackness. Footsteps, an eerie light, and then my inner imaginings as… a danish businessman with a grin stepped along the tunnel only to be followed by a herd of fellow team-builders! My lonely encounter with my own private fears in this truly scarey place was over and all descended into farce. Even the ghosts were giggling I do think.

Big – BIG conversation about collusion in a big compnay, sleeping our lives away, playing it safe.

And then a day in Copenhagen cafes, much sleepy relaxing and a little writing before heading to the airport and home.

The true horror film – living for 40 years in a hierarchy where reward and praise is for colluding with mediocrity and never being honest from the heart…

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