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protest

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Drama in a Time of Election

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.

Pretty Please!

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. 

 

Love,

Baz x

 

 

 

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You wait for one, and then three come along at once.

Shiny happy people calmly protecting women's rights in the Trafalgar Square sun

Shiny happy people calmly protecting women's rights in the Trafalgar Square sun

Hearty Hello, Bazians! How are you? We are feeling mighty fine with all this people power whizzing around like kinetic energy (something that may have been in our coffees this morning...sorry, we’re just excited) but It’s here and it’s really happening - people willing to stand up for what they believe in. And that makes us very happy at Baz HQ. So happy that we’re going to do some of our famed Baz Book Reccs to celebrate!

As we’ve talked about in previous blog posts - culture and art reflects society - at it’s basic level, that’s what it’s for - but it also challenges, highlights and even twists it: even our Dear Shakey of Stratford Upon Avon (we think it should be called that actually, more fitting) fabricated a few truths about King Richard much to the dead king’s annoyance (his winter of discontent lasted for centuries, poor bloke) but for the most part - theatre is a set and a stage we recognise, showing uncomfortable truths or reminding us of gross injustice.

The most interesting thing we’ve seen in the arts quarter is theatre companies and arts hubs calling for scripts or short pieces that defy Trump, the NHS, any given issue threatening to unsettle the globe’s equilibrium - with proceeds going directly to charities or to organisations threatened by governments. This past week we’ve seen three major global protests, with the Women’s March, the peaceful sit-ins at US Airports and Anti-Muslim ban rallies. These movements were announced sometimes within hours of the event and the numbers were ridiculous and astounding. And so hopeful. When we here at Baz have a tea break, we like to casually log on to the main page of the petition to ban Trump’s state visit to see just how many thousands it’s risen by - and if you want to add your name to the rising number, by all means, click here: http://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/171928

It’s impossible and quite crass to assume protestors are any particular type of person: we’ve seen families, children sitting on Dad’s shoulders at the Women’s March in Trafalgar Square, grandmothers pushed in wheelchairs pushed by their granddaughters in DC - all races, types, sizes, genders and it got Baz thinking that these should be the audiences that make up a theatre of tolerance, or freedom of speech and of fair representation. It hardly needs saying that the great classics of the theatre are not exclusively or even a little bit made by us: we import the arts as much as we do anything else and we should be proud of it. Support Muslim voices, talent artists, hell, support all cultures and all voices – show these men with suits and power that we are more eloquent, moving and effective then they could ever be.

Here then are some prime texts we here at Baz HQ recommend that stand the test of time and are fine reads in protest:

 The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui, Bertolt Brecht – The godfather of politically themed, important theatre, this play, coming pretty recently off the interwar period and hot off the heels of WW2 satirises the rise of Hitler in Germany whilst making the darkly comic point of how and when he should have been stopped. Real, scruff ofthe neck theatre.

East Is East, Ayub Khan-Din - Though it lives on as a fantastic British Film, East is East was first a play, and a successful one too at that, showing the normalcy, the truth of what home is to this family settling in East London, and what makes up a British family today. Warm, funny and engaging, a standard of characters and plot that has ensured it lasts.

Taking Sides, Ronald Harwood- The true story of German conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler, who aligned himself with Hitler during the war, and the struggle between principles, safety, and art. Starkly honest – a great example of how exposing a truth in art doesn’t need to shame, it can simply explain and reverberate around an audience in understanding.

There’s so much, too many examples to mention: Women’s festivals, the Bechdel Test, plays in response to FGM, theatre companies like Tamasha, Talawa, theatre nights in theatres, studiosm and spaces that seek responses to these current events are growing in size and popularity – who knew? It’s cool to be informed, even cooler to speak up.

Last month, Paisley and pastel colours were in. This month, it’s protest - and my does it suit every single one of you.

See you at the next one, we’ll be the ones with placards, a baby bjorn and a hot thermos of tea. Let’s keep the party going.

Much love.

Baz x

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