Wednesday, 22 October 2008

400 Year Old Glue

22 / 10 / 8

This project is getting wider than I had anticipated. It has become wider for good & ‘bad’ reasons:

First the ‘bad’ (in inverted commas because it really isn’t bad at all), due to the fact that it seems as though the men don’t remember marking the book and when shown the text that the supposedly marked, they don’t agree that they would have chosen that passage as their ‘favourite’ or one with resonance with them.

This to me the begs the question of the premise of our project. It potentially shakes the foundation of what we set out to do. And this is exciting and thrilling and blinding. Where will this lead next? As my theatrical ‘hero’ Anne Bogart says, ‘Out of crisis, comes creativity.’ She goes on to say that she purposely heads towards crisis as that will make something happen. I believe that we have created a crisis merely by coming down here and pursuing this project. There was no need to step off the cliff this time. But we have and we need to enjoy this crisis. We also need to push as many contacts as we can get and interview them just to see what happens. Who knows what stories we will get.

We don’t need to worry about not getting material as all of the veterans so far are highly steeped in Shakespeare, literature & education and how that shaped their lives whilst in Robben Island. And this material will be wonderful sourcework for a play.

The good reasons (and there are many):
There are just too many wonderful stories to be told and tell. At each meeting, we get told other people to speak to about this project. All could contribute to a brilliant performance that goes above & beyond our original simple remit of the Robben Island Bible project.

But, this means that we might lose our focus and be spread too thin - too many shiny pennies to look at but not one to grab a hold of, which can't happen. But to gather as much information through primary interviews and then sort it out later is how I think both David & I seem to think about it.

Our latest thoughts were spurred on by something that the gentlemen & Jean September spoke about: the ability of literature and the education system set up at Robben Island to keep men of a variety of political backgrounds and beliefs together and focused on the common enemy, the Apartheid regime. Robben Island has often been called the University of Robben Island due to the many men who earned diplomas & degrees whilst imprisoned and who were taught by their fellow prisoners.

A common cause that is the glue to keep these men together, educated and hopeful – Literature, Education & Shakespeare.

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We met this morning with Jean September of the British Council (Steff O’Driscoll, if you are reading, she passes on her best to you). She seemed very pleased with the nature of the project and the progress so far. She recommended that we speak with Paul Boateng, the British High Commissioner in South Africa. She thought that he would be keen due to his strong interest in Shakespeare, literature and cross cultural exchanges. She also encouraged us to spend the night at Robben Island (yes, apparently you CAN!!! David got quite an excited shiver down his spine when offered this as did I).

1 comment:

Bruce said...

Matt, Bruce here; it doesnt matter whether they've all had collective amnesia; it's a BRILLIANT idea for a drama anyway. Get writing man!