An angel poking the three kings, don’t you just love this concept? To say nothing of the three Kings as bedfellows. Perhaps travelling together meant they had to rough it a bit. I wish an angel would poke the conscience of Theresa May and her bed fellows and open their eyes. ‘Oy you, leave it out!’
Comrade Egg and the Chicken of Tomorrow, about a woman trying to save the world one chicken at a time, is theatre to watch out for. Part of the Litmus Fest at the Pleasance Theatre, Islington, a festival designed to support the development of new work and new ways of making work.
Bronya Deutsch of Mother Bunch (www.motherbunch.co.uk) a graduate of the Lecoq School for physical theatre in Paris, is clown, artist and activist par excellence. The exposure of the iniquity of intensive chicken farming and the dire consequences to the mental health of the factory workers is bitingly funny and so effective I’m surprised all the audience have not immediately written to their MPs to demand conditions in the meat processing industry improve or, better still, desist forthwith.
For theatre with a message to do its work, it has to be excellent and Bronya Deutsch excels.
Sadly this is not a look of triumph for the end of hostilities, nor yet anguish that she has created such harsh conditions for most of the country at large, more a wicked laugh that she is getting away with ruining the country.
Today we dug up a tree by its roots, snapping mercilessly and chopping with dobbers. Not a large tree, and not a huge job to remove it, but having lost shape and beauty it had grown unsightly. We laid the tree on the grass denuded of its branches and Sunny Boy posed with the hammer like a game hunter standing by a trophy. A robin perched bewildered, like an old boy come to see a childhood home where once he’d been happy. Only then were we wistful too. It had only been to please me that Sunny Boy dug it up at all.
We have come to Spitalfields. Descendants of Huguenot refugees who found respite in London fleeing death and discrimination in France. Thousands were murdered because they were protestants.
The area, as much as is preserved, draws us in and we could imagine ourselves living here as if we too were creative types, Gilbert and George, Jeanette Winterson and others who now have the wherewithal, or even refugees as our ancestors living several families to a room on Brick Lane.
Our family survived, made a life for themselves and subsequent generations. No one says it was easy but the onus was not on them to prove they were bone fide. They were not harried but able to follow their trade, enrich the pool of skills, languages, nations already struggling to survive.
It’s not only plastic in the oceans that will be the shame of our generation if we do nothing, but the wilful blindness to the plight of refugees.
Wooden Boat with Seven People, by Kalliopi Lemos (2011), a monument to the lives and deaths of refugees, sits in the busy marketplace in Spitalfields the area of London where refugees have often found shelter and welcome.
The little wooden boat was abandoned in Greece having carried real refugees from Turkey. Daylight shows between its timbers where water would insinuate and weaken its joints.
Life-size metal migrants now sit forever forlorn in the gunwales where once men, women and children cast themselves on the mercy of the rest of the world little suspecting that the world has forgotten the meaning of the word.
Did they really set out in an open boat to cross an ocean? How many people? What are their stories? Where are they now?
Interesting in this context to read Andrew Rawnsley’s interview with Madeleine Albright in the Observer today, herself a refugee who became America’s first female secretary of state.
My daughter sent this picture the day we learned that my mother had died. Portentous and consoling that the formation of birds like a great force of nature is both a giant bird and a figurehead at the prow of a ship. I like to think of the passing of her soul – any soul – as such a moment, at once inexplicable, momentous and awe inspiring. Named affectionately, the Boxer, for her fight and her penchant for the telly and boxes of chocolates, it is good to think of her steaming ahead to unknown waters or even through those pearly gates.