Hey Bazzers - so as there’s nothing possibly happening in the world, the terrifying motions of which starting in the USA of November last year, peaking this January, continuing on like some hellish monster sliming over the hill, causing a deep shadow with its toupee wherever it goes - nothing’s really going on. Oh yeah, there’s a little something that happened allots night and this morning (steady now, not that) which may mean more of the same or a chance to make things better, brighter and more fair - but you know. We’re actually at a loss on something to write on this week, soo, you know….
We can’t hold it in anymore.
Come onn That was a stunning turnout. Young people, hold still. We're about to hug you all, we don't care how long it takes - us at Baz HQ are very proud. Also with a bloke that was on the scene. Rhymes with Fereby Jorbine. Did a Fantastic Job. What a leading man!
But in the meantime the fight goes on -and the key word is normalisation. We’re used to things being rubbish - we could, we know it’s insane, get used to not having an NHS, higher taxes, it’s possible - as long as it becomes normal. Here at Baz we are certainly not in favour of these punishments dressed up as ‘measures’ and ‘policies’ - we are in favour of fair play and decency, a moral duty to be fair and to help all. We also want to make theatre that challenges audiences and reflects society. We aren’t the first to do this, and we won’t be the last as the arts community has always impressively shown out on the side of good time after time, and in a unique way: by seemingly indulging in the dark : George Orwell’s seminal Nineteen Eighty Four for example has entered our lexicon of language, and has, we suspect scared many a stateswoman or man away from making too much of a draconian policy stick. Though of course some have had a good go. For our ‘protection’ - ahh we see now! It all makes sense.
You really can write this stuff. It’s so predictable.
As we’ve mentioned before, the arts is a great tool of fighting back and protesting, In the 1850s Verdi sparked national revolution in Italy with his opera La Battaglia di Legnano, that famous close up painting of Honecker and Brezhnev French kissing on the Berlin wall, and the late Rik Mayall almost single handedly popping the balloon of privilege and power the Thatcherites claimed in the late eightes. Billy Bragg continues to write songs that lambast right wing media and racist indoctrinated opinions with his witty and often moving songs. All art holds society to account in different ways. As we try to do in our performances, as stated in our manifesto, we want to challenge and educate audiences. Sometimes you need to force a terrible, not so far future on audiences, readers and gallery visitors to make an impact. And along with our sunglasses, gum, notebook and pen and our dog-eared copy of Kafka we’ve told people we’ve *totally read* here are some Baz Picks to get educated without being lectured to: with clever devices, fully fleshed out characters and intricate plots; with theatre.
Nineteen Eighty Four: A fantastic Novel by George Orwell that basically invented the sci-fi political horror and has remained influential: currently actors, voices of interest and celebrities are reading it non-stop at UCL library for its anniversary, watch it again here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrSkAvzjhkI&feature=youtu.be
The Handmaid’s Tale: By Margaret Atwood, in 1985 - the era of Reagan, it was tough being a woman, with reproductive rights systematically stripped away and many basic human rights being denied women. A classic of the genre, it’s currently being revived as a TV series on Channel 4: with a mainly all female writing and acting cast led by the brilliant Elisabeth Moss
The Hothouse: By Harold Pinter, this not so often performed classic is brutal in its vagueness of how the world has changed, trapped inside a prison system where you’re not sure who’s prisoner and keeper. Deeply psychological and fairly disturbing this had a recent revival at Trafalgar Studios with John Simm - worth catching onstage as the text is so open to interpretation.
Party Time: again by Harold Pinter, this almost forgotten TV playscript was a late Play for Today in Pinter’s repertoire - and again showcases the playwright’s talent for drip feeding information, and hinting at a brutal world outside the finery or the room where the dystopian elite clink glasses while a faceless army which once protected them advances slowly. A tour de force of slow burn dystopian horror.
Far Away by Caryl Churchill: unlike Pinter, we have an all-too real description of the world outside - where everyone and everything has turned on each other: Salt fights Pepper, land fights sea. Another one not to be missed and regularly enjoys great revivals.
Cleansed, by Sarah Kane follows in the steps of only four plays we have of hers: brutally and disturbingly. Cleansed is no different - where the hospital and the University become settings for torture and awful experimentation with shocking results. There’s no dystopia here, only the end destination if we carry on down the road of thinking in a particularly damaging way of others - a small minded and abhorrent point of view we are all unfortunately familiar with now.
- Chimerica, a modern play by Lucy Kirkwood tackled a modern paradigm and how countries become companies, how besting others is the only recourse, no matter the human cost - as well as the price incredible human sacrifice. A modern classic.
The Observer, by Matt Charman, a deeply principled play which asks are we in the west really the best arbiters of all things ‘good’ - democracy, human rights, equality - set against the backdrop of a small election in an African country in danger of a rigged and unfair election. An excellent piece of political theatre that defies the label and instead goes to the root of the problem: us, and the opinions and beliefs we hold dear, but hide.
Read these plays and Corbyn’s manifesto. Take part.
It's quite a good bedside read, actually.
With love and hope, here's Billy Bragg with some salient advice, though five years old, very relevant to an Australian Octogenarian who thought he and his media empire had it in the bag. It's mad catchy too.