Thursday 12 January, 2017


Here is an extract from the press release for the current production of Three Sisters at this Elephant and Castle based theatre:

"At this precise moment in time, when the intelligentsia have become irrelevant at the ballot box it (the play) couldn’t feel more pertinent."

Having had to write many, I appreciate that puffing a production in print is a difficult job. Anyone who runs a theatre is desperate to get bums on seats. Nothing has changed for hundreds and maybe thousands of years, nor should it ever. The pressure is to find a new angle - something that hasn't been said before - that will resonate with a casual reader and make them more likely to attend. I admire anyone who has the guts to put on plays and fights for an audience.

The ballot box is the least bad method we have of deciding who will be in power; better than fighting a war where the biggest bully wins. I cast my first vote in 1973 - for the losing side. I didn't feel irrelevant.

Whoever wrote the release is referring to Brexit and Trump and suggesting that those who voted Remain and for Clinton have been unfairly rendered "irrelevant" but that they can find solace in attending this production.

Anton Chekhov was a proud Russian; this is evident from the love and detail with which he observed the frailties and courage of the Russian people he knew and grew up with. He does this in his four great plays, his juvenilia and in his short stories (and is satirised for doing so by Neil Simon in The Good Doctor, a brilliant play, astonishingly unknown). Would Chekhov have voted for economic and political union with Germany, Finland, Mongolia and China?

What about the characters in the play? Andrey was potentially a member of the intelligentsia of the time, but was prevented by low self esteem from fulfilling his potential. No other considers themself special. They are provincial, small time people. A new Chekhov, if he came to Britain, would head for Halifax or Deal to discover the people he understood, not Covent Garden.

So my position is that the writer, aside from Shakespeare the greatest dramatist ever, and the characters he loved, would have rejoiced in the situation that those invited to this production are encouraged to despise.

I voted LEAVE (as I voted NO in 1973) without hatred for those who disagreed with me. I love Chekhov. I know Three Sisters from back to front and can't wait to see it. But is The Union Theatre going to bar me because I am off-message?

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