Friday, August 30, 2013

goodbye Seamus Heaney

by Seamus Heaney

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.

At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Edinburgh Fringe Review 2013: Finally the women are taking over

The first show I saw got me so excited I floated through the rest of the day. The tag line is Samuel Becket meets Larry King in a new play by CJ Hopkins. Two actors, 70 minutes, a putative pundit interviewing an author in a Washington insider Sunday morning talk show. It's called The Extremists. It starts and quickly the cascade of bullshit starts washing over you. Every hollow buzz word and button pressing, the speculation about the extremists, who they were, how we could protect ourselves by keeping our heads down and not thinking about it. The dialogue is both rapid-fire and repetitive. But then almost imperceptible it turns, the cascades change, the intention change, the true hearts of the humans come out. It was a little like watching a Sizek philosophy lecture, a little like watching an Anonymous video. They discuss the fact that no one has successfully transformed the state without violence in the past. (Ignoring my beloved Havel I might add).  I was stirred and inspired and provoked. You may still be able to get tickets for this one. It is at Assembly Roxy.

Then to The Events, the new David Greig play at The Traverse about a nice lesbian minister who is dealing with the aftermath of being the teacher in a mass shooting at her show choir/community drop in center. It was good, it was ingenius. It was really dark. It was the kind of play I discuss in the lobby after and tell people what I thought it meant and they get despondent and then I feel bad that I've shown them that much darkness. But the thing is, the choir was not healing choirmaster. The play opens with a choir - and they use an American college choir for this, not professional actors, singing their hearts out in the Glee version of War! What is it good for? as she sits in a funk. It ends after a striking retelling of the events of the shooting with the choir singing - moved to tears by the experience of the soaring melodies - but  even as these college kids have glistening tears backlighting their carefully applied mascara, for the audience the singing has no healing power - it's been plunged into the falsity of Glee. Its surfacy, fake community feel was actually creepy.

From there to Tom Wrigglesworth  - I saw two excellent comedians try their hand at confessional, autobiographical one man shows, Wrigglesworth and Phil Nichol. They were perfectly good shows and had their moments, but to me that genre risks being maudlin by its nature and, well, their grief is their grief and their stories are their stories but I wanted either one of two things: either more self-knowledge revealed for the audience or more laughs.

Then to my surprise LOVE (I always know that Assembly is going to be good and Traverse is going to be amazing but who knows at some of these other places) we saw Fleabag, a show by a company called Dry White. One twenty-something woman recounts her career, romance and friendships in London. It just could have been very boring, but it was riveting and beautiful and true. The Lena Dunham theme emerged: that women's friendships matter more to them than their romances, but they will sacrifice the former for the latter every time. The economic wasteland that is London, the frank review of the pleasures and perils of running a cafe with a guinea pig. The performer -Phoebe - is so mesmerizing. Maybe it takes a whole theatre company to create a stunning one person show. This generation is so listless and consumerist and over-awed by the male gaze. This generation is the same as me. This is interesting to think about.

The next morning up and early to Baby Wants Candy - an improv group that is offering a couple two hour workshops on improvising musical theatre. I have a musical theatre project I will work on in the near future and so it was great to get a glimpse of the scaffolding of form and  theory they use. Baby Wants Candy improvised musicals are a hot ticket - and for good reason. These guys get three seconds from the audience suggestions of place and time to the opening number. It's intimidating but if you are enlightened enough to be free of pride, then it is super fun.

I really liked getting an opportunity to practice "Yes, and. . .".  That is the answer to everything.

Then a delightful lunch at The Living Room on George Street and the decadent low-down trip to SpaceNK and we were at Grounded at the Traverse. Reams have been written about the brilliance of Grounded. A one-woman show - a fighter pilot grounded by pregnancy becomes a drone pilot in Las Vegas and slowly loses her mind. My ever informed lovely Fringe companion Ellen let me in a little fact: post traumatic stress disorder is higher in drone pilots than in combat soldiers. They don't know why, but the theory is that a fair fight is less stressful than playing God. This woman was a phenomenal character, Tom Cruise in Top Gun but as a hot blonde woman who loves AC/DC. The way that the screen and she merged, and the horrific monotony and evil of what she was asked to do broke her down but the way she chose to tell the story was what killed you. Beautiful imagery, acting just incredible. Should be on the must-see list of anyone who is wondering what staring at a screen all day is doing to the minds of humans. You will never get tickets in this festival, but if it comes near you don't miss it. Probably the best thing.

We then watched 20 minutes of Pendulums Bargain Emporium which seemed so fiendishly interesting and good that I really didn't want to leave, but I had fallen for the hype of another show. A show called The Play That Went Wrong. The rumor is it was signed straight to the West End before it even opened in Edinburgh. It is pretty hilarious and I think it will be a big hit and it is just the thing to bring people to see. A play within a play at a junior college. The theatre director's last chance, mayhem and missteps and on-purpose amateur acting of the most hilarious calibre. Sit near the front. First because there are a lot of dead bodies who can't sit still (we couldn't see them at the back) and second because the lines are very blurred and tekkies come down from the light booth to mess with the lights hanging right above the audience's heads before the show uttering unreassuring curses and expressions of ignorance. Some of the moments were exquisite. I love to laugh my head off. I love the old gags. I loved how it played with and subverted all comedy expectations and gave them new life. A locked door, a falling picture, a misplaced prop. Two shout-outs; first to a foppish white boy romantic lead who delivered all his lines like Kanye West and second to the best on-stage concussions I have ever witnessed. Also judicious use of snow.

Across town to St. Stephens, a venue I have shunned since a bad experience with Eastern European dancers fanning feathers randomly across a stage there in 2005. I overcame my issues to see On The Other Hand which was a circular, feminine, painful storytelling of four women in vignettes unrelated or related, which ingenius sets, and great theatricality. The plight of women, the endless struggle for identity, what we give to our children and what we are ourselves. It was a mushy round hole of a space to be in, foreign in a way, but I was glad to be there. It was very different from the rest of the Fringe, and that is a good thing.

The next morning to Ciara at 10:00 am at the Traverse. You won't get tickets and it's pronounced Kee-rah, not See-air-a which is how I pronounced it until the show started.   It starts as a rich Karen-Walker-esque art gallery owner from Glasgow telling her story and morphs into a Tarantino organized crime thriller.  Ciara is the daughter of a crime boss and heroin dealer, proud and ashamed, but it is the juicy narrative and compelling performance that makes this such a joy.

Besides Fleabag, my other surpose LOVE was Uncanny Valley. I didn't know what the Uncanny Valley was until after the play was over. From Wikipedia:

The uncanny valley is a hypothesis in the field of human aesthetics which holds that when human features look and move almost, but not exactly, like natural human beings, it causes a response of revulsion among human observers.

This was a love story between a robot and Wilson Grey, an orphan whose parents had died in a storm. It was told by three robot-human hybrids who had been sent from the very far future to tell the story of Wilson, who was the most important human in their history. How I wish I could attend the Jacques le Coq school of mime and theatre from whence so much of the genius I have seen on the UK stage has sprung.

First, in devised theatre style the boundaries were blurred. The female robot who played the romantic lead greeted people as they came in. Except Ellen and I were deeply, deeply engrossed in a discussion about the surrealist nature of drafting commercial contracts. Suddenly we looked up and there was a perfectly robotic human gazing deeply into our eyes with affection. That's the Fringe, baby! That's why you shouldn't miss it. These moments are just so weird and wonderful. Wilson Grey, the human orphan, becomes an apprentice weatherman to Chris Diamond - an exquisitely realized weatherman/media personality.

The scenes where Wilson and the robot first interact are too magical for even me to spoil.

I will tell you about two scenes. Wilson seeks knowledge of his cyborg love (gifted to him by his uncle) at a museum of robots. He sees the first robot, devoid of taste and feeling. Then he meets the laborer robot, skilled only at work. Finally he meets a robot used in therapy that is only skilled at mirroring the interior emotional life of the person it touches. The robot touches Wilson and then screams in agony and fear relentlessly. I loved that because if the robot touched me, that is exactly what it would do too. I felt for Wilson.

And I felt for his bravery when he hijacked the Chris Diamond weather show to sing Mona Lisa to his beloved robot. We saw the robot watching it on television and realizing that he loved her, and that this was just for her. And we knew how brave he was to sing it. So I am in the second row crying my eyes out at this when Wilson catches my eye as he sings. He gives me a look that says - "I am so proud of myself that this is moving you to tears.". I roll my eyes and shoot him a narrow side-eye that says, "You're not that good a singer, it is just the context that is making me cry and I don't appreciate you crowing about it.".  Now that is some theatre! But actually his voice was dreamy.

Which made it somehow harder when the robot broke his heart because of the Uncanny Valley she knew was coming.

The thing about Uncanny Valley was that it hinted at being a trilogy. I definitely wanted more.

I always want more.

Until next year, signing off.

The 4 Festival and the Three Day Play: Liberty and Owain.

This summer in our back yard nine children devised a play over three days and performed it for the parents on a hot afternoon (alleviated by bottles of ice cold rose). It was run by Gomito, a theatre company I love and admire here in the UK. There is something to this collaborative, devised theatre that is so good. The play was called Topsiccum and was the story of  the people of Topsiccum. Their old, grandiose town leader is chased by two assassins working for an evil queen through portals to different worlds.  A community disrupted, a community healed. Of particular note was the cheesy, scene-stealing death my own son stretched out over several minutes when as the King of Candy Kingdom he was poisoned in a potion-switching game of chicken.

Yesterday we had the 4 Festival. It was strange explaining to the adults that it was the vision of my 4 year old daughter. She got the DJ, she planned the make-up tent, the inflatable swimming pool, the stuffed animal tent (we are in the tenth year of soft toys, they fill a tent), the story corner, the slack line - we told her class at Homerton and Heritage about it and invited the neighborhood kids and they came, first as a trickle, then like a real festival, with parking problems and everything. Children poured obscene amounts of poster paint and filled part of our fence covered with white paper - but mostly just enjoyed pouring the paint. Kids fell into the pool - especially after an impromptu game of bobbing for apples. A large patch of the lawn we are reseeding, and to protect it created a barrier out of chopsticks and string and filled the space with all the little plastic figures which multiply obscenely in middle class homes. We had horses, bunnies, rhinos, giraffes, Moshi monsters, Bakugan, Skylanders and for every one of them three dinosaurs. This post-modern circular zoo sort of became the focus for the dancing, especially when we had the kids going around it walking like Egyptians. Owain acted out a story with toys called Future and Past Collide! Speedracer and a gaudy French knight on horseback were locked in eternal combat through all space and time, and in this chapter fighting amongst the giant dinosaurs. One of the DJs, who was being supplied with Prosecco instead of being paid was really into it, and so were the kids. I was surprised that the canopy with nothing but a few chairs and piles of Donaldson-Scheffler children's stories was one of the most popular. We went through tons of guacomole and a hundred cupcakes and at 3:00 we had to make a beer run. I think next year we may have the 5 Festival.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

reblogged from Scriptonite Daily: Sleepwalking Into Fascism


25 Votes

This week has seen a plethora of actions by the UK government, which if adopted by any other country, any compassionate person would consider fascist. Government sponsored vehicles are roaming the streets telling people to dob in suspected illegal immigrants, the UK Border Agency are stopping mostly non-white commuters on the transport networks and requesting they display credentials to prove their right to be here, and disabled people are being carted off to modern day workhouses. Yet in spite of all this, many are still reluctant to face the gut wrenching reality that all is not well in blighty.
Godwin’s Law? Oh Give it Up
No doubt someone is already preparing a comment accusing me of Godwin’s Law for making this comparison.  So I’ll take a moment to set out why I am making it, and why it does not conform to the term.
Godwin’s Law was intended to highlight the sort of ‘Little Hitler’ comparisons to the Third Reich.
Train conductor just gave me a fine for not having a ticket… Nazi!”
Health and Safety laws mean I can’t smoke in my office anymore…it’s like Nazi Germany in here!
The government is telling me I can’t smack my kids anymore…Fascists!
This is the sort of thing that Godwin’s Law pertains to.  This is not what I am doing today.  I am laying out some clear similarities between policies in the UK today, and widely agreed upon Fascist nations in history.   These similarities should raise real concerns about the direction in which successive governments are driving our nation and should lead us to take a pause and ask ourselves if this is the direction we want to head in.
Despite this, I accept that nevertheless many people are determinedly unwilling to consider the awful prospect that our government might not be acting on our best interests and will use Godwin’s Law as a tool of cognitive dissonance.  In essence, Godwin’s Law itself can become a tool of censorship, used to close down important debate about the authoritarian impulse of the state and corporate power.
“The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt, April 29, 1938. Message to congress
To be clear, Fascism is not about soldiers in jackboots goose-stepping along Whitehall. This is a post WWII idea of Fascism which, it could be argued, provides a smokescreen for identifying original Fascism. Umberto Eco coined the term ‘Eternal Fascism’ for this brand I write of, the antecedent of the nationalist, racist Nazi-style Fascism considered as default today.
If one say’s of Britain ‘We live in a fascist regime’, the immediate response is most often an irritated, dismissive shake of the head followed by ‘Well why don’t you go live in Iran/North Korea/Russia?’ depending on the chosen pariah state of the moment. To be clear, I wouldn’t want to live in those states either. Equally, we have a responsibility as, purportedly, the sovereign power of this country (our sovereignty delegated to parliament through democratic universal suffrage) to ‘put our own house in order first’.
People presented with this premise will find themselves unable to take the ideological side step required to acknowledge our corporatist system as fascist, rather than free market run amok. It is the truth we dare not admit. I argue this is mainly because no one wants to think they live in a fascist state, no one wants the burden of being called into action to defend against a fascist state and most people sincerely want to (and in many cases do) believe that matters of ideology and politics are irrelevant in the context of their daily lives. All of this is human and understandable. But that is different from it being correct or responsible.
In his 1995 essay, Eternal Fascism, Italian thinker and essayist Umberto Eco, provided one of the most compelling and ‘eternal’ definitions of fascism available to date.  He set out the key characteristics, observable in a fascist state.  He did not specify that ALL these conditions needed to exist for the state to be defined as Fascist, but that any, some or all of them are indicators of a fascist disposition. Of his 14 categories, there are at least 8 which apply to the UK today.
What’s Fascist about Blighty?
Umberto Eco’s characteristics of ‘Eternal Fascism’ can be seen in the policies of the UK government over a number of years, arguably we have been careering towards this point throughout the unbroken rise of neoliberalism, from 1979 to today. For now, let’s focus on just three of these.
Fear of Difference 
The neoliberal dominated institutions of politics, media and even economics have made strident efforts to rebrand the Financial Crisis – a clear crisis of the private sector and neoliberalism itself – into a public sector crisis.  This scapegoating has affected a number of groups, but in recent months, the narrative on immigration has been ratcheted up out of all proportion to the size of the issue.  I have written in detail on the reality of immigration, so will not rehearse here.  In summary, the UK has a lower immigrant population than almost any ‘developed’ nation, these immigrants are mostly assessed via a Points Based System, only 7% are asylum seekers, and only 33% of asylum claims are accepted.  There is no open door. Finally, the immigrant population does not have accessto a vast majority of the benefits available to UK citizens, the benefits they do receive are nowhere near the same value as those received by UK citizens and they are a third less likely to claim benefits than UK citizens.
Nevertheless, constant media and political attention is expended on the immigration issue – with almost no time asking the question – why are people coming here?  Many migrants are economic migrants, and those who are not are political migrants – both are systemic, not personal issues.  To argue in favour of ‘closing the door’ on people fleeing the system our country is so pivotal in exporting around the globe, often by force – what kind of morality if this?  This is the national equivalent of first class guiding their lifeboats away from the steerage passengers after the sinking of the Titanic.  The problem is the sinking ship, not the poor bastards swimming for their lives.
This week, the government launched the ‘Go Home’ campaign, driving an ad van around predominantly poor, mixed ethnicity areas of London warning that illegal immigrants would be arrested, with a number to text with information.  The van is planned to go nationwide in coming months.  Some might ask – well how is this racist?  It’s racist because it contributes to the total lie that immigration is out of control, a big problem and a culture of fear and suspicion of people who look different to the majority – ‘any of them could be an illegal!’
In the same week, in the same areas, UK Border Agency officers wearing stab vests patrolled commuter hubs such as Kensal Rise, Stratford and Walthamstow stations stopping predominantly non-white travellers and asking them to produce credentials proving their right to be in the country.  Reports suggest these officers became aggressive when questioned as to what right they had to request this information, by those being stopped and by concerned passers-by.  This might well be because under UK law the police do not have the right to perform random ID checks such as this without direct cause for suspicion – they are not permitted to perform this kind of random stop and search using racial profiling techniques.  This is because a person in the UK should not be suspected of being an illegal immigrant because they look or sound ‘foreign’ to a police officer or anybody else.  If not, we open the door to the yellow stars and the pink and black triangles which singled out Jewish, gay and disabled people during the Third Reich.
Finally this week, the UK Home Office twitter account took to producing stats each day of how many ‘suspected’ illegal immigrants they had arrested under the hash tag #immigrationoffenders – evendisplaying pictures of people they had arrested (while still only ‘suspects’) for us all to gawk and point at.  The fact that people are still even asking ‘how is this racist’ tells you just how damaging this conversation about immigration has become.  The UK populace is being taught to fear the ‘illegal’ and the ‘immigrant’ as a drain on our resources, while the country is being feasted upon by privateers and profiteers.
Contempt for the Weak
To be clear, this is the neoliberal interpretation of weak – which means, cannot perform the primary role of a citizen under this system, go to a workplace, make money (mostly for someone else) and pay taxes.  One of the most absurd aspects of this current system is that there is so much work to be done, so many people who could contribute to that, and yet we are only permitted to earn a  living through ‘jobs’.  These jobs may not match our skills, or deliver the most critical work that needs doing, and the physical layout of the workplace, inflexible hours and penalisation of sickness absence actively freezes out both the maximum contribution possible by our human resources, and the most efficient use of those people to deliver maximum utility for their effort.  In short, we do the wrong things, in the wrong way, with half our team on the bench – then we blame the people left behind rather than the system.  This isn’t just an ideological problem, but a problem that destroys and ends lives.
The government has mandated that every single person claiming social security payments for sickness or disability undergo a work capability test with Atos, to determine whether they could really be working.  The clear implication being – these people could really be working. In fact, ministers have not merely implied it, but propagandised about it until many people believe it was benefit fraud, and not the Bank Bailout which caused our sky high debt.
Earlier this year, the UK Statistics Authority publicly condemned the DWP’s misleading use of figures, accusing them of making claims about the efficacy of their policies that were ‘unsupported.  In short, they are just making this stuff up.  The Guardian has also exposed repeated cases of the Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith, and Tory party Chairman Grant Shapps, misrepresenting data on benefit claims and the results of their policies.
The made up figures made it into press releases, which resulted in bogus articles in the Telegraph, The MailThe Sun, the Express and the ITV and BBC News (along with myriad local news outlets)– all of which parroted disinformation without bothering to verify it.
As a result, the lies repeated often enough became the truth and a climate of suspicion formed around those who find themselves reliant on the welfare system.
Despite all this posturing and bemoaning, the DWP’s own estimates put the cost of benefit fraud at just £1.2bn (or only 0.7% of claimants).  To put this in context, the DWP loses almost double that (£2.3bn) each year through administrative error.
The government’s own statistics show that between 2010 and 2011 10,600 sick and disabled people died within six weeks of their Atos assessment. This is 204 people a week, or 29 people a day. 2,200 of these people died before finding out if they were still entitled to their social security, and an astonishing 1,300 had been declared ‘Fit to Work’ by being placed in the Work Related Activity Group. These people spent their final weeks alive being harassed by the Job Centre, answering pointless questions, and fretting over late payment notices and threats of eviction as their social safety net was ripped away.
It was revealed this week that disabled people are now to face the 21st century version of the Workhouse, with the UK government requiring them to attend live in residential ‘training’ scheme, anywhere in the country they are required and to perform mandatory workfare placements while they are there.  If they refuse, they lose their social security.
If this state harassment of those who are failed by the system was not punishment enough, hate crime against disabled people rose 25% in 2012 – as the toxic narrative of the burdensome disabled poisoned the public well.
The Cult of Tradition and Rejection of Modernism
The cult of tradition is the premise that all that is knowable is already told and it is for us to accept this, than seek to define some new idea.  Whilst we might be embracers of the modern in terms of technological and scientific progress, when it comes to the matter of ideas for new means of organising ourselves socially, politically and economically – the cult of tradition and the rejection of modernism is enforced to shut down and stifle debate.  In a recent article, I charted the emergence of the idea that There Is No Alternative to neoliberal capitalism.  This idea was launched and embedded under Thatcher, but entirely embraced by New Labour (hence the ‘New’), the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats.
The sneaky trick with this Cult of Tradition though is that it presents itself as Modernism.  It hijacks the language of progress – reform, modernise, develop – only apply if referring to neoliberalising an organisation, institution or economy.
Anyone suggesting that this might not be the most effective, efficient or ethical way or running things is treated not as a critical thinker, but a heretic.  This ideology is so entrenched that even people who consider themselves ‘apolitical’ seek to close down the debate with such rhetorical tricks as ‘well what do you want, Communism?! That worked well in Russia!’ or simply that talking politics is somehow dry, boring or oppressive.
Economist Professor Steve Keen writes on the ideological cleansing of Universities in the field of economics, such that students are only taught neoliberal theories, only academics endorsing the neoliberal view receive research grants or publication in major journals.
In Nazi Germany, you needed to be a member of the Nazi party to gain employment.  In the UK today, you need to be a card carrying neoliberal.  In most office based jobs, the narrative of neoliberal, privatisation, outsourcing, so called free market and profit is ‘the way we do things around here’.  There is not even a space in which to present an alternative view or narrative, within the system, hence one is placed outside of it to present challenge.
We are Sleepwalking into Fascism
Wherever we look, with regressive changes to the legal system which make being annoying an arrestable offence, the scapegoating of immigrants, the sick, the elderly and the disabled, or the refusal to encourage and enable critical thinking and the development of a more equitable and sustainable alternative – neoliberalism has turned Fascist, and our neoliberal state has turned fascist with it.
We are just a few years behind Greece on the ‘austerity’ programme, and that nation is now rounding up ‘undesirables’ such as LGBT people, drug addicts, prostitutes and immigrants and the poor and transferring them to internment and labour camps.  If it can happen in the state that created western democracy, it can happen anywhere.
The time to wake up is right now, the time to reject the narratives of scapegoating, suspicion and envy is now.  The most revolutionary acts we can partake in today are to grow things, make things, mend things and care for each other.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Kemble's Riot


Winner of the 'Best Theatre' award at Brighton Festival 2011 and following the hugely successful Edinburgh Festival 2012 run, UK theatre play Kemble's Riot is set to cause a stir at the FringeNYC this August 2013. The play was created by British playwright Adrian Bunting, who sadly passed away in May 2013 of pancreatic cancer; it was his dying wish and dream that the show would go on in New York. There will be five performances this August throughout the FringeNYC International Festival.

VENUE 17: The Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal Street
(West 3rd and Bleecker)
PERFORMANCE TIMES: 17-24th at various times. 

17th - 1:00
18th - 5:45
20th - 7:15
21st - 5:15
24th - 8:30

Kemble’s Riot tells the true story of the first iconic consumer revolt, set in London’s West End in the 19th century. In 1809, The Covent Garden Theatre burnt down, and theatre manager John Kemble had no insurance. In order to pay for the repairs, he put the ticket prices up. The people of London weren’t prepared to pay for his mistakes, and responded by rioting for 66 consecutive nights. Throughout the protest, the crowd shouted, sang and danced in an attempt to drown out the players and disrupt the shows.

Kemble's Riot sees the drama unfold with the audience joining in as members of the rioting pit. With pantomime-style responses, the audience are led by actors who move amongst them, directing the crowd to jeer, sing songs and dance, this is a gentle ‘joining in’, audience participation at its most enjoyable.

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