Tuesday 20 January 2009


Testing testing 1 2 3...

Been a while since I've had a chance to be here. I broke my finger with a rather hubristic slip down stone-cold sober steps straight after New Year, ending up in surgery under general 24 hours later. It's still fun to watch people wince as I explain how the knuckle spun round to 9 o'clock and the finger was one centimetre shorter than it should be. It's mended pretty quickly thanks to one of those sublime healthcare experiences that only the NHS can provide - from the Registrar's gruff one-liner 'ok, we're going to fix this' through to a follow-up clinic appointment where I was whizzed round four careful and caring doctors and nurses, out of cast into splint in less than 90 minutes... and it was free at point-of-access.

At Devoted & Disgruntled formed a new club with Julian Crouch, the Brotherhood of Big Bearded Men with Limb Injuries. J broke his fibula while dancing on a stage in Seattle. He had a cast put on, crutches supplied, cast taken off to put on a new contraption, crutches removed, all within 24 hours and the American healthcare system charged him big bucks for each of those steps.

Devoted & Disgruntled? It's theatre's open space expression of community, run with passionate gentleness by Phelim and others from Improbable. The annual gatherings have always been my favourites for the way it gives space to recharge and reconnect with what you're about, and the joyful noise of diverse concerns jostling for attention. In advance quite a few people I know who I'd thought should be there expressed a jadedness that it's too often wailing for an entitlement to make a living in theatre. Which is hardly fair given last year's domination by the big freeze from the Arts Council, or the year prior threatened axe to BAC (why no BAC staff present this time?)

Anyway. This was my favourite by a mile. It radiated a calm and resourcefulness. Most sessions about funding were about how to do without it. Plenty of interesting/new people. A brilliant campaign to take over disused branches of Woolie's and turn them into theatres (keeping the pick'n'mix). And Gary's note that we don't stop there but take down Tescos too. I convened a couple of sessions that were incredibly fruitful for me - one to make a piece of Imaginary (i.e. unmakable) Theatre that ended up with something that might actually get made, one about Fun, when things are fun and when they are more than just that.

In comparison with the open-space type events I've been involved with in TV and games and the in-between, the theatre ones are more fun and the people play nicer.

Right. Time to watch history. Happy new president, everyone.

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