The whole business of the Olympic Flame eludes me. Sentient beings whose judgement I (normally) respect (trust) comment how moved they’ve felt seeing it arriving in the UK and seeing it whizz past the end of their street. My neighbour was most pleased with her free bottle of Coke, when I said ‘diet I hope’ she responded’ oh no zero’! Well there we go then that’s alright. The fact that the journey is in reality mostly done inside a vehicle escorted by Metropolitan Police outriders from the terrorism branch is somewhere between ‘a bit of a swizz’ and rather over the top. The motorbike riders happily posed for photos on the top road (to the airport) in Barry; yes my fellow residents are easily pleased!
And then we have the winner of the Orange Prize for fiction and her contemporary re-writing of the story of Achilles. What is the current preoccupation with Greek myths and tragedy? Isn’t there enough real life drama to represent in fiction? Or is this getting back to there only being X stories in existence and everything basically boiling down to one of them (once stripped back)? Why do successful writers re-write existing stories? I just don’t get it; really I don’t!
Belarus Free Theatre was political theatre, the kind of which we seldom see today. Not only did I have no problem staying awake, as I had been concerned I would, I was genuinely engaged for the 1 and a half ish hours. The messages are particularly hard hitting because they are current, the actors devised stories about events in 2010/11 and portrayed a contemporary representation of the politics and administration they will all be returning to. The piece ends with the 9 actors giving a very personal perspective with all of them saying that they might leave Minsk from time to time but they are always drawn back there. The exception being an older man who is living in London unable to return to Belarus on account of something he did that crossed the administration; he talked poignantly of how he spends his time living virtually in Minsk where his wife is. I was left with the feeling that frankly we, in the UK, have little to complain about; indeed when political theatre was at its height in the 1970/80s we weren’t exactly persecuted. When I say this I am by no means down playing the struggle for women’s liberation or gay rights rather by comparison to Belarus in 2012 we were protesting from a position of relative advantage. On the other hand we did give voice to the Apartheid Movement and oppression in South America amongst others.