Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Trying To Connect

I've read five of the plays from the Connections volume I referenced the other day and enjoyed each of them to some extent, with that extent usually being a lot. Mind you, I think you have to be a bit of a theatre person to grasp how some of them work on stage, and even then I couldn't quite visualise fully Howard Brenton's (yes, there are some big-name dramatists involved) The Guffin and Stacey Gregg's I'm Spilling My Heart Out Here. But I grasped enough of these to get a sense of how exciting they'd be to witness - at least by a teenage audience attuned to their concerns - and how they are meant to work. (I know that sounds patronising, but it isn't meant to. Such concerns are passionately real and thought-provoking to all, but they tend, to some degree, to push back on old geezers like myself.)

The only disappointment I feel in relation to the volume relates to what was primarily on my mind in 2017 with regard to the 2014 compilation: above all I'd really like to find a piece we could do as part of a production with my drama guys. However, there are two key problems regarding this: the plays (so far) are wonderfully edgy, but too edgy for these shores, I think, and they are very, very British. I like a sense of the local but there's a limit and adaptation necessarily loses something (even as it might gain something else) and when that something becomes too much of a thing you end up failing to do justice to the material, I'm afraid.

The play I've most enjoyed so far has been the most obviously conventional in terms of telling a story. Ryan Craig's We Lost Elijah struck me as a brilliant bit of theatre and I can almost figure out a way to get it done in our context - almost, but not quite, I'm afraid. A pity, but I've still got fifteen plays to read, with five more from this volume and ten from a different compilation to go.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Just Walking

Went out for a walk this evening, to blow away the cobwebs and get outside of myself. I walked in the direction of Pasir Panjang Road, following what is almost a winding country lane once past the hospital, turning around when I reached the road at the bottom of Kent Ridge Park. That gave me forty minutes there and back, a reasonable time for someone as out of condition as myself.

At the turning point it occurred to me that I'd been so lost in my inwardness and little concerns that I'd paid hardly any attention to the loveliness of the greenery around me, the sounds of various night creatures, and the general freshness of the evening, mild humidity and all. I told myself to get out of my thoughts and attend to all this on the way back. But I didn't. We're strange creatures, aren't we? Well, I am, at least.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Not So Cheerful

Over time I've developed the belief that it's good to at least try and be cheerful despite everything. But today just wasn't a cheery sort of day, sadly. At least I got to talk very briefly to John just now, and he's back home from hospital and has some at least mildly good news about Maureen.

The problem is that our communication was restricted to just a couple of minutes due to circumstances beyond our control, as they say. Another aspect of the disappointing nature of the day. A pity. I could have done with a bit more good news.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Some Strings Attached

Listened just now to an informative interview with Jonny Greenwood, serving to fuel my on-going bit of an obsession with Radiohead. Would have liked more about his work on film tracks and thoughts on Penderecki, but glad to have some access to his thoughts on these matters. Wonder if Radiohead have ever worked live with a string section, or full-blown orchestra. Doubt it, but interested in trying to find out.

Friday, October 15, 2021

On Occasion

I was listening to Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks a few days back - the excellent Archiv recording with Trevor Pinnock and his merry men - when a fairly obvious thought came to me: It's splendid stuff, but you really have to be in a Baroque kind of mood for the over-the-top grandeur of it all. Then came another, somewhat fresher, thought: Even regarding music I'm a mindless fanboy for, there is some element of needing to be in the mood to get close up and very personal - it's just that those moods are easy to find. So I can listen to Crimso, VdGG, Radiohead, Dylan, Richard Thompson, Elvis (Costello, that is), Vaughan Williams, Haydn almost any time, but not quite every time.

And here's my final thought, dredged from memory: In my early teenage years I listened to whatever it was I was getting into at any time, and all the time, over and over - and never tired of it - especially with regard to my encounters with the giants of the underground scene: Deep Purple, Sabbath, Led Zep, Tull, Crimso (of course, my first love), Floyd, VdGG, Genesis, Strawbs, Yes, ELP and the like. Just spinning the vinyl created the occasion.

I suppose the change began when I developed a primitive kind of discriminatory taste.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Keeping Cheerful

Just lately I've been listening a lot to Radiohead, the live stuff on YouTube mainly, particularly in brief moments of downtime at work. It's all a bit contradictory: I think it would be fair to characterise the band as pretty intense on the somewhat depressive side. But after listening I always feel unaccountably cheerful.

(Just to give a specific example, I listened to a wonderfully frantic 2 + 2 = 5 live from the Reading Festival a couple of times today, at a suitably happy volume, and it went a long way towards healing the pains of an unconscionably busy day.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

On Waking

Does anyone actually describe themselves as 'woke'? Or even see themselves as such?

The best we can ever achieve, it seems to me, is to be trying to be awake to all our various world has to offer. But isn't sleep so inviting?

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Sadly Lacking

I've long been bewildered by the utter mundanity of my dreams. After all, I'm a vaguely artistic sort of chap who regularly wrestles with works of high imagination. And do I dream of centaurs & sea-nymphs & heroes in battle with the spirits of rivers? No. I dream of getting on-line in a lesson three hours before I actually go on-line. I suppose it's a form of lesson preparation, but stultifyingly dull.

Monday, October 11, 2021

As Others See

I've been watching the mini-series centred on the O. J. Simpson trial on Netflix in fits and starts. I'm not at all comfortable with the ethics of dramatisations of real life events, and I wondered if The People vs OJ Simpson was just going to be high class trash, but I've reached the sixth episode and been impressed by the acting and general production values. I get a sense I'm being shown something close to the truth, at least in terms of the basic facts. To be honest, I'm a bit surprised by how much I didn't know, having followed the saga from a considerable distance back in the day.

Watching Episode 6, which generally focuses on Marcia Clark, the main prosecutor, was in many ways quite a painful experience. I'm not sure if the real Ms Clark would have wanted herself portrayed on screen - actually I wonder if seeing herself depicted might have added to the pain she suffered in the course of the trial, horrible thought - but for this viewer, at least, it was illuminating to see first hand, as it were, what a woman in her position had to face. Before watching I think I might have brushed off the idea that the media paying attention to one's appearance is a big deal. Now I know a lot better and am so much more aware of how that necessarily looms so much larger for women - even one as obviously accomplished in so many ways as Ms Clark.

I suppose that if there's any justification at all for this genre (apart from providing interesting television) it's the possibility that the viewer might grow in sympathy and understanding of others - especially those whose perspectives are so foreign to us.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

On The Edge

Listened to the first act of Mozart's Don Giovanni this morning. I'm growing in understanding of what's going on in the music in relation to the drama, but there's still a way to go. Mind you, if that implies that I'll be listening to this and the other operas for years to come then I have no objection.

The whole mythos of the good Don (or, rather, emphatically Bad Don) in both high and low culture is fascinating and disturbing. There's a weird energy about Mozart's central character that seems to break every frame he's put into. Talk about living on the edge.