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March 24, 2012

I have not written for a while. Those who read my last post will know that I encountered some problems in Australia and it’s taken a while to sort them out. Added to that is the fact that I have dedicated the last two months to the book that I must finish by October; write, write, write (oh yes, and try to be a dutiful son and help with family problems). It has not been a time of much creativity or creative reflection.

But it’s all about to kick off again. I go to Greece on Wednesday to spend five weeks in Lesbos, Athens, Crete and Thessaloniki, running workshops and performing ‘Echo Chamber’.

When I get back in May there is a a workshop in Yorkshire (which is sold-out) and a workshop in London. Then it’s the residency in the South of France and the extended residency in Lesbos, both of which are selling well. After a couple of months of hard-core writing/editing time and personal focus, it’s time to go out into the world again.

Also in May, a big project at the University in Huddersfield. DUENDE has been invited to direct a performance with 80 first-year students. One of my Greek colleagues, one of my UK colleagues and I will take charge of the fun. That will be a real joy too!

I still have no idea how to develop DUENDE’s new ensemble work. There is no money and I do not have access to any in this country. There are plans and possibilities but everything remains frustratingly ill-defined. However it looks as if ALL ten of the DUENDISTAS will be together on Lesbos for the residency there, and we will remain together for a week after the workshop participants have left, which will give us a week of intensive development time. That will be utterly, utterly, utterly fantastic – as will the residency itself (it’s shaping up to be a fantastic international group)!

I am delighted to be heading back to Greece. I really love working with Greek performers  – both as teacher and collaborator. Three of the DUENDE team are Greek. I love the way the culture runs there, the sardonic refusal to bow to authority (at least among the sort of people I work with), the passionate creativity, the respect for artistic craft and skill.  Nowhere is a paradise, and for many Greek people the reality of their country is deeply troubling. But, especially in this time, it’s worth remember that the lies and slanders and sneering that our (utterly discredited) media have directed at the Greek population as they struggle with Europe’s problems are just that – lies, slander and shameful sneering. Though I know how unimportant it is in the big picture, I’m very proud to have been invited back to Greece at this most difficult of times. It is an honour.

It will be interesting performing ‘Echo Chamber’ there – though most of the audience are likely to speak some (or very good) English, they will nonetheless be performances for  people whose first language is not English. ‘Echo Chamber’ is altered by every audience. I look forward to seeing how the six Greek shows develop.

So as I emerge from the cocoon of the last few months back into the big, bad world, take a deep breath and jump….


I was asked  the other day to name three people who inspire my work….

I was a little surprised by the answers that seemed most honest. Let me know what you might have answered to the same question:

John Coltrane: A dedication to technical mastery, combined with a boundless vision of unexplored possibility. He did not explore blindly. He equipped himself with everything he could learn, practiced, practiced, practiced, then stepped into the void.

Jerzy Grotowski: An absolute respect for tradition and lineage, combined with a dedication to the reality of the present. He was unwavering in his commitment to researching and developing the craft of the performer. Above all, he insisted that making art was an ethical act – not the imposed ethics of his culture, but a personal commitment to ethical interactions with others.

Allan Kaprow/John Cage/American Happenings: deep wisdom and skill brought to the process of gently reinventing performance. They trusted the intelligence of their audience to find a relationship with what was being presented. In relinquishing ‘control of meaning’ they showed the ultimate respect to audience – they treated them as co-creating artists.

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