British luvvies are a rich source of entertainment to me—as long as I am careful to keep my theatre-going to a minimum; it’s the stuff they say in interviews that puts a smile on my face. So many of them talk cobblers. Fortunately, it doesn’t matter because (apart perhaps from the likes of Mackintosh and Lloyd-Webber) they have no power, artistic or otherwise, so you can just laugh.
In today’s Telegraph, for example, under the headline “Pornography: the most shocking play of the Edinburgh Festival?”, “rising star” playwright Simon Stephens explains the thinking behind that work: a play recounting a suicide bomber’s journey from Manchester to the London Underground with a rucksack full of explosives, in deliberate reflection of the journeys made by Britain’s 7/7 bombers from Leeds:
“The fictional suicide bomber in the play describes his journey from Manchester,” says Stephens, “but what he never talks about are his religion, American colonialism, al-Qa’eda or politics. All he talks about is the country he is travelling through.”
At the time of the attacks, says Stephens, “people were incredulous that British boys could turn on their own country, and that’s what we remember. But it didn’t surprise me. In fact, it made absolute sense to me. They are not monsters.”
He fleshes out the thesis that developed in his mind, which led him to the title for the play. “I was haunted by what the bombers were going through on that final day. It struck me that at the heart of their action was an alienation from the people they were going to kill and from themselves. This seemed to be symptomatic of a consumerist culture, which objectifies everyone and everything.
And objectification also sits under the production and consumption of pornography. I think we’re living in pornographic times.“
It’s obvious, innit? I don’t know about you, but every time I see images of naked people I get so alienated that all I can think of is filling a train carriage full of innocents with nail shrapnel.
Don’t playwrights produce plays for others to consume? In other words aren’t they involved in production and consumption in the same way as ordinary folk?
What absolute cobblers. They blew people up, because they were murdering, nihilistic, religious nutcases. Oh, add scumbags to that as well. I bet Simon Stephens votes Lib Dem; for he is surely channelling Shirley Williams.
Unfortunately some luvvies seem to be great influencers. Quite why anyone should be remotely interested in the political opinions, or any opinion, of someone who makes a living out of pretence is a mystery. But it seems that they do…
Never mind Shirley Williams and the Lib Dems – this “porongraphic culture” seems to chime oddly well with Michael Gove’s impending comments about “lads mags”.
“Don’t playwrights produce plays for others to consume? In other words aren’t they involved in production and consumption in the same way as ordinary folk?”
In some parts of the theatre, yes. If you go and see something produced by Cameron Mackintosh, that’s what you get.
In this case, not exactly. Looking at the Traverse Theatre website, they get funding from Edinburgh City Council, Scottish Arts, the Government of Quebec, The Canadian High Commission, the National Lottery and the British Council. Which means that as well as having to serve people who want to buy tickets, they also have to serve other masters with political agendas.
Don’t read the words, just FEEEEL! It’s all CONSUMERISM innit?
Naomi Klein has competition.
People write what people like them want to hear.
The world is funny like that.