Thursday, 15 October 2015

15/10/15 Hamlet Live NT performance --at cineworld.

Lindsey Turner's outstanding production of Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch, a live performance beamed to cimemas across the UK and the world tonight. The first great feminist Hamlet --director and producer both women. A huge critique and demolition of the evils of patriarchy, its rules, its laws its corruptions, its religious pettinesses, its useless politicians. How it destroys our present and our future with its massive business and war machinery, its noise and explosions. How its kills both our sons and our daughters. Stops our line, kills us all.
At first strange because there's no male charisma, the idea of male genius is out, it seems flat --and of course the Telegraph cannot understand it at all -- but as the critique and power build up you learn its language, see its psychological and nasty truths. Its world of excess and opulence begins to fall apart. We see how Hamlet, a decent man, is infantilised and internalises sexism to the extent that he lashes out at Ophelia in his pain. He acts the madman to plot revenge; she suffers madness as his horrors are heaped on her. But even he and his friends cannot survive, except a bespeckled, heavily tattoed, Horatio, left reluctantly to tell the awful tale.
And it's so true to Shakespeare himself --in a kind of modern dress, but a bit like Mervyn Peake's world, you see the16th C as never before, the real fears of the dark night with its malevolent spirits and ghosts; the religious ideas --incest according to church law; the concept of purgatory as it was then; laws on suicide; the moral demand for revenge. And the metaphysical ideas, how grief and betrayal poison all love, how worthless the world is without decent values ; the morality, the earthiness of the real Shakespeare who littered plays with bawdy puns for the pit.
And at the end, when we are left breathless and weeping, Cumberbatch comes out, reads a Somalian poem about refugees, and asks the world to support the millions of refugees fleeing from the world's wars, and especially Syria. The most innovative experience since The Piano where real loving making was shown. And I think both Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders would love it!
Benedict Cumberbatch urges Hamlet audience to donate for refugees

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

14 October, 2015

Went to see Alan Jenkins read from his new pamphlet, Paper Money Lyrics at the Albion Beatnik Bookshop, Oxford.

Very impressed with these poems. His usual honesty and lyricism matched by a lacerating look back at his past, and a reflective understanding tone that impressed me. I was also taken by his use of rhyme, something which I use and enjoy myself and which builds to a tour de force in his final poem, 'Inshore', which expresses the probably poor opinion our honourable,  hard-working and serious ancestors must have of the easy and lax life of our affluent post-war generation.

Actually I think he's too hard on himself (and all of us). We baby boomers, brought up by people who were both traumatised and survived  WW2, also grew up in a terrifying Cold War, with accompanying deadly proxy wars all over, and lived our way through two major revolutions --the technological revolution into the computer age, and the sexual revolution begun by birth control.

It was not all love and flower power -in fact very little of it was. It was bloody hard and confusing for most. And there were a lot of hurt and broken people, a lot of experimentation that didn't work, as well as those great steps forward that did, and changed humanity.

These poems show how we learned, understood, grew wiser, moved on. And the formal structures and rhyme suit that metaphysical movement in us all.

A good and enjoyable event.