I went to see Clwyd Theatre Cymru’s
production of “Memory
” by Jonathan Lichtenstein, in Chapter, Cardiff
last night – a full house, as befits both their reputation, and that of the author, whose Iraq-oriented play “The Pull Of Negative Gravity
” was a hit in Edinburgh and elsewhere. At its centre was a highly accomplished and moving piece about the Nazi holocaust, set in East Berlin in 1990, and in the 1930s/1940s memory-space of the now-elderly Jewish lady, Eva, who is its chief protagonist. Unfortunately, from my point-of view, there were two other plays tacked on – a largely irrelevant one set amongst the actors rehearsing the piece, and the other taking place in Bethlehem in 2006, with an Israeli soldier evicting an elderly Palestinian from his home in order to facilitate the building of the security wall. I suppose it might have been too obvious to have the actors discussing their feelings about the events they were portraying (rather than tea and cars which seemed to be the main focus), or to indicate that the Israeli soldier was connected to the old lady by something other than ethnicity, but at least it might have made for a more coherent evening. Perhaps one problem is that the Holocaust stuff, though chillingly impressive and wonderfully acted, was nothing we haven’t seen before. A more worrying one might be that in the current political climate, it may well be impossible to get a “we must never forget” play produced about the suffering of the Jewish people which doesn’t invoke the suffering of the Palestinian people, thus drawing untidy and unhelpful parallels. Particularly unsubtle was the screaming-match between the soldier and the Palestinian which simply aired all the arguments from either side as though the two were having a sloganeering contest – cathartic for a liberal audience, perhaps, but not especially satisfying as drama, except in the moment. Still, it looked and sounded good, and the cast were (mostly) excellent.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to a presentation at BBC White City
in London, at which dozens of writers and agents were informed of the opportunities which would be available to us in 2007 via CBBC drama - i.e., not many. But at least it was a day out, I got to see a few familiar faces, and managed to do some Christmas shopping “up West”.
I finally submitted my thesis this week – viva at the end of January. I’ll just be relieved if/when I can finally tell my mother I’m a doctor; albeit an unemployed one.
My play, “Dirty Something
” is due to receive a reading at R.A.D.A.
on January 16th – it’ll be useful to see if it gets any laughs, or if there are many longueurs – it’ll all inform the re-writing process. At the very least, it’s another away-day in London.