Friday, May 08, 2009

Our friends in the north

This dispatch comes to you almost-live from an absurdly shiny tenth-floor penthouse flat in the palpitatious heart of Newcastle, where I've just enacted the second of three performances of Wound Man and Shirley. (At Northern Stage; not in the apartment, you dunderstick.) It went pretty well I think -- generally more relaxed than last night's white-knuckle opener, though there were a few stumbles: mostly when I found myself inadvertently using part of my brain to worry that the audience weren't as audibly responsive as others have been, & I started therefore to fear that I'd lost them. I hadn't, it turned out, at least not entirely: they were just concentrating. (The twits.) Actually, their quiet disposition en groupe got me into hot water right at the start, where my timing during a part of the opening sequence is cued by audience laughter. ...Yeah, you see, writing it down, it's obvious that sooner or later an audience isn't going to laugh at what I happen to think is funny, and the whole sequence will unravel. But that really hadn't occurred to me till now. Oops. -- But, all OK -- tiring but OK -- and a good post-show chat with a smattering of friendly folks. I really like Northern Stage -- the space is great, the feel everywhere is very supportive and upbeat, and there are some pleasant nut-free cereal bars in the vending machine in the green room, so it's win win win.

From here, it's to Bristol next, where I'm doing a couple of nights as part of Mayfest at the Tobacco Factory (where the low ceilings mean only four fifths of the set will be coming in with us), and, giddyingly, addressing the sixth-form Literary Society at my old school. That'll be interesting. I mean interesting in a good way -- they tend to be pretty smart cookies -- but also interesting in a bwah-hah-hah scary pumpkin sort of way because the last time I went back to my alma mater -- a couple of years ago, I think it was, so I was, y'know, 34 years old or something -- I still got exactly the feeling it gave me to walk in there a half-lifetime ago... Perhaps that never leaves you.

Anyway. Just here to do a little plugging -- as people say (I expect) when they turn up, dressed as electricians etc., at the door of exactly this kind of penthouse in exactly the kind of pornographic movies that get filmed in this kind of penthouse. I'm saying: please, do come and see Wound Man if it's coming anywhere near you. I'm dispensing with the usual diffidence: I'm proud of this piece, and what's more I'll enjoy doing it a lot more if the audiences are a bit bigger than they've been so far. And once again -- forgive the crushing repetition -- if you're in London and wanting to see it, please don't imagine it'll wind up coming to London eventually, as there's currently no evidence to support that fancy. Come to Newbury, or to Bracknell, dears; or come to Jersey, why not, you have but one life to live. (That includes you, cats. Don't be suckered by the propaganda.)

Mostly though this is preamble disguised as ramble. It's all leading up to (1) an apology, and (2) a rallying cry. (1) because this still isn't the Fontana / Ravenhill post I trailed some weeks ago -- I will do this, despite the obviously dwindling, probably entirely exhausted, topicality quotient. It doesn't stop mattering just because it's occupying that weird interzone between now and then. (2) because word reaches me of a Bad Thing, and I can't help remembering how y'all leapt so assiduously onto the petition that was part of the effort to save Queer Up North from extinction: and now, a year and a half later, here I am touring a piece that QUN made possible, and about to show it at this year's festival. It may be that my persuasiveness over this new matter is somewhat depleted: given that an editiorial in today's Guardian says that "people ... are always entranced by ... Punchdrunk", and my friend Andrew Haydon opines on a related blog post that "everyone's really keen on Punchdrunk" [my emphasis], it appears the only logical deduction to be made from these statements is that I no longer exist, and I consequently shouldn't expect to hold any sway. But for what it's worth: please read the below, and make whatever fuss you can.

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