Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Managed to catch the repeat yesterday on Radio 4 of  “A Nice Little Trip To Spain”, one of the last plays by one of the great radio dramatists, Don Taylor; about two Englishmen tracing a relative who died whilst fighting in the Spanish Civil War. Ultimately about socialism shooting itself in the foot, revolutionaries letting one another down, etc. More of a series of discussions than a drama, it was still deeply moving – if only as a reminder of the days when the Left thought it was a good idea to take up arms against Fascism rather than apparently allying themselves with it (in its pseudo-Islamic guise). Again, a reminder that political drama works best when it addresses the complexity of the world rather than merely adopting a stance and hoping for the best; cf. Ken Loach, who for all his one-dimensional rhetoric off-screen, manages to create works which tend not to over-simplify the issues addressed - see “Land And Freedom”, which also deals with the leftist in-fighting which obstructed the struggle against Franco. Even the great Harold Pinter, in his painful Nobel Prize acceptance speech - which will be forever remembered for his struggling to find a definition of “mass-murderer” which implicates Bush and Blair whilst exonerating Saddam and Milosevic – spoke of the need for dramatists to dramatise rather than propagandise. A high-ranking official in the arts in Wales recently wondered out loud why it was that so few Welsh playwrights deal with political issues, suggesting that this has something to do with self-censorship in a nation whose creative sector is largely dependent on government money. I failed to counter this with the obvious point – apart from the scarcity of theatre companies, the ridiculous expense of staging a piece oneself, the difficulty of finding paying audiences for any new work, the possibility of the political landscape changing utterly in the 2 years between having a play accepted and seeing it produced – the fact that true dramatists don’t write plays about issues; they write plays about human beings, and the issues simply provide a context for discussion of the universals.

Another cheque arrived today – a few hundred quid for foreign broadcasts of “Tracy Beaker”. At this rate, I might actually have to pay some tax this year – last year, the Inland Revenue had to pay me, which was amusing.

It was good to hear former M.P. Oona King (admirable in so many ways) on Radio 5 Live today, talking about life following the indignity of being defeated by Galloway, and stoutly defending her position on Iraq in terms of her opposition to a genocidal Fascist dictatorship, rather than irrelevancies such as WMD or George W. Bush’s intellectual capacity. I guess this is what distinguishes those leftists who supported the war from those who didn’t – one side had the moral courage to face up to the necessarily unpleasant contradictions and compromises, and the other sought refuge from reality in shallow and surreally repetitive sloganeering.


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