Featured post

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Playwright's Christmas Do

The howling wind will make the music for the do,
The rain in diamond drops to make a bit of sparkle.
The door bell rings
They’re here.  I’ll put the kettle on.
It’s Mrs Iago
“The whole Knitting Circle?”
“As many as I could muster,
There’s something going round.
And Michael’s outside in the van.”
“I’d better open something.
This Chilean red?”
“That’ll do. Not too expensive.
I’ll check there’s no-one watching from the street.”
The bell again.  it’s Holmes,
Or is that Conan Doyle?
I never could tell the two apart.
He’ll entertain himself with a puzzle
To which there’s a seven percent solution.
Now they’re coming thick and fast:
Nanny Eve.  Arthur is already behind the curtain
Staring out the window at the past.
I know what she’ll have
There’s a bottle somewhere
For her to find.
Now Emma Hardy limping up the stars
Her hat a crumpled meringue.
Mary Anning, a few drops of laudenum
Just to keep her going for the day.
Oh here’s the panto crowd
Where?  You know very well where they are.
And someone from the very distant past
“Mr. Scrooge, isn’t it?
Still in the party mood?”
And so on in their hundreds
Filling the air with chatter.
The Hurdy Gurdy Boy, I’m glad he came.
I can’t see him, of course,
But Tamara is here to play the fiddle
And get that old Scrooge dancing
And Angelo to lurk darkly in the kitchen.
He’s cooking up something.
That lot from the house on the marsh
And the Foundation crew,
One missing, but which one?
That was the mystery.

And when they’re gone at last,
The final curtain fallen,
I’m glad the lads from the Pig Unit
Weren’t here to cause a stink.
The Time Traveller
Will come yesterday.
And many just couldn’t get in.
All in all Not a bad do.
Now back to what I love the best,
The music of the howling gale
The diamond rain drops on the pane.
And the kettle’s just boiled.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Suspension of Disbelief

Officer Claims UFO Sighting
Please tell me if this is a copyright image.

I was watching a programme called Mystery Maps on television tonight in which a psychologist mentioned the role of "Suspension of disbelief" in people who see ghosts or witness UFOs and suppose them to be aliens. In other words, their readiness to believe is so heightened by being in a suitably spooky environment such as a dark wood and having recently seen a film about aliens, even the most innocent of sightings of a light will be interpreted as something other worldly. The term "Suspension of disbelief" was coined by Samuel Coleridge Taylor in 1817 as a necessary condition for any narrative be it film, novel, play or even just a nursery tale. We have to disregard the fact that we are actually only seeing flickering images on a screen or reading some very abridged description of the world, or even that we are hearing something utterly preposterous.  In the theatre world suspension of disbelief is our stock in trade; the audience are required to believe that this is not a stage but the battlements of a Danish castle, that this person is not an actor but is Hamlet Prince of Denmark, that he is experiencing genuine emotions not that he is just reciting lines of text.  Some people find suspension of disbelief a tricky idea and cannot become totally immersed in the play, but the vast majority of people will.  I would go as far as to say it is an inherent capacity in the human make up. Quite why that should be, I can't say, but after years of playing with it, I know it does work.

This is an example that happened in a play I was directing and it still astonishes me to this day.  We were performing a quite serious version of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. It was written by a very clever playwright, Jem Barnes. In the particular scene I am thinking of, Doctor Frankenstein is in his laboratory.  He has just animated the creature who is still lying on the experiment table.  Suddenly, there is a knock at the door.  Not wanting anyone to see this abomination, the Doctor covers the creature with a sheet before going to open the door. It is a colleague who wants to know what Frankenstein is up to.  Frankenstein is loath to tell him.  Eventually the visitor goes to the table and snatches up the sheet but the creature has vanished. At this point there was always a gasp from the audience and after the show people would ask how the disappearance was engineered.

Here's how it worked.  We were a small company of four actors and so everyone had to play several parts. In order that these changes of character didn't appear comical, they were done in full view of the audience. No clever lighting effects, just actors changing roles.  In this scene the same actor was playing the creature and Frankenstein's colleague.  He was lying on the table when Frankenstein covered him with a sheet. There is a knock at the door. The actor then stands up in full view of the audience, replaces the sheet and then walks round the set to enter from the other side as the colleague.  It is he who crosses to the table and is astonished when there is nothing there.  The point is that the audience became so used to the convention of role swapping that somehow they edited it out of their consciousness.  They had immersed themselves in the story and their suspension of disbelief was total.

In other words the audience had chosen to follow the artificial narrative and disregard the patent, obvious truth that the actor had just walked from one place to another.  I can believe utterly that there is a parallel effect at work with sightings of UFOs and ghosts.  We see what we choose to see. It is still a genuine experience, we really have seen a ghost but the reality is that of a narrative not of the measurable everyday world.  The programme also pointed out that numbers of sightings of UFOs always coincide with the release of alien films at the cinema. A reasonable explanation as far as I'm concerned and that's from someone who has seen a ghost in a theatre.  But that's another story altogether.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Deputation to Bournemouth Council on behalf of the Arts

September 17th 2013
Deputation to Bournemouth Full Council
On behalf of Bournemouth Creatives.
Arts by the Sea and future investment
Peter John Cooper - theatre professional and writer.  I have run companies in Oxford and North Wales and other part of the UK.  I have been chair of a number of County wide arts organisations.  Resident of the Borough for three years. Speaking on behalf of Bournemouth Creatives and other arts organisations.
A few weeks ago I was honoured to be asked to represent the creative peoples of Bournemouth and Boscombe here. According to The Council Procedure Rule 38(a)(iv) I may not refer to the tragic demise of the Boscombe Community Centre for the Arts. But I would like to pick up and develop a few incidental ideas from that presentation about the future arts provision in the Borough.
Firstly I would like to applaud the Council for its far sighted support for the Arts by the Sea Festival
Let me quote “The aim is for the Festival to become a major cultural event in the international calendar: an artist-led festival that enables regional, national and international artists to create new work, and showcase their best work, encouraging local, national and international visitors to Bournemouth.” Hurrah.
This is a marvellous opportunity for the Borough to kick start its commitment to regeneration. In order to do this we must encourage a growth outside the weeks of the festival itself to encompass the arts as they impinge on our residents on a day to day way by the artists living and being educated here. Bournemouth and Boscombe have always been the home of significant writers and artists from Robert Louis Stephenson to Aubrey Beardsley to Tony Hancock.  We need to harness the heritage and skills and connections of these and living artists, the whole arts community, to deliver that vibrant renaissance we all seek.
The Arts by the Sea Festival has thrown up an interesting conundrum. the regeneration officer from the council, has been asking local businessess for use of premises for the festival as the precinct which they were using has filled up.  We just don’t have the venues.
We do have some brilliant small spaces such as the Winchester in Poole Hill But it is a fact of life that Small, temporary spaces church halls and night clubs do not encourage investment or create the bigger international scale buzz that we need. The South West Dance centre is a useful guide to what can be achieved.
But we are one of the only towns (and one with city status ambition) that has no community arts hub. look at Southampton, Newcastle Gateshead. In fact it is a sad fact that we have less arts provision than Sturminster Newton.  There is a lack of provision for public gallery space or space for music making or theatre production. And we are certainly lacking a wet weather general arts centre that will exploit the skills of local artists for the benefit of visitors throughout the year.
Margate with its problems of high levels of drug addiction, Houses of Multiple Occupancy, poverty, and a High Street of empty shops and businesses is now listed in the top ten gallery destinations world wide and the whole area is benefiting from the additional tourists, jobs, created by its newly opened Turner Gallery. It can be done.
It will take money – lots of it but One of the great resources we have at our disposal in the Borough is a large number of artists who are significantly engaged in their fields of enterprise, writers, film makers, poets, painters  and performers. I urge the council to make use of this resource in advancing its plans for the future regeneration.  We are at your disposal.  Make use of our knowledge and expertise and let us not have any more disasters like the one which befell the community so recently.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Lifetime is Too Long

Sixteen is the age to write poetry
You’re fearless and alone at night
You know your enemy

When you’re sixty there have been
Too many lovers
Too much living, too many scenes

Your words and thoughts finessed
By tenderness
By experience, by bitterness

A lifetime is too long to tell one story
There’s time enough to re engage
To reach an end as satisfactory

To step out on another stage
Blinking in some other glory
Shrug off the puzzlement and rage

Those other things fade with the night
Gain true perspective
Its going to be all right.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Your Path to Even More Spiritual Enlightenment

Havoon al’aaf presents a series of mini-masterclasses on WHY YOU CAN’T BE BOTHERED TO WORK THINGS OUT FOR YOURSELF … the key to unlocking & navigating your path to his bank account.
Designed to facilitate bringing your pin numbers and bank account pass words out of your head and into the real world – Havoon presents some of his finely tuned processes and games to Decrease substantially the levels of your bank balance and make sure you are donating from a 100% inspired and empowered current account surplus. Helping people to take their personal donations to the next level and beyond, Havoon’s mini-masterclasses offer the usual recipe of total bollocks dressed up as some spurious scientific stuff and top tips to encourage people to marvel at his own success. He will convince you that all he says is absolutely true because he has a white coat and a clipboard.
Havoon is now leading uniquely transformative workshops and one-on-one sessions. Drawing from the richly diverse wisdom, techniques and processes he has encountered during his ground-breaking work on the donut stall in the foothills of the Himalayas, he is weaving these creative techniques and exercises to spark both Personal account and credit card breakthroughs.
The Ring of Truth
The talks include an overview of the history, science and practice of both the Europe jam-filled doughnut and US ring donut traditions and instructions on how to engage the wider holistic benefits of charlatanism and conscious avoidance of anything with the ring of truth which these practices offer.  See how possible it is to believe something because it was posted to you by a friend of a friend on facebook. And how much easier it is to believe stuff when you don’t have to think about where it came from or whether it makes any sense at all.  This is where Havoon had his unique insight.  He will affirm that all this rubbish is true and you merely have to repost it and just accept it as fact. After you have completed a fortnight’s Juice Diet as part of the regime he will email you a certificate that you can print on the best paper you can find.  This proves that you have been experienced the first stage of transformation into Certified Mug status.

Manifest your Memes

See how it is possible to manifest your ill thought out and ridiculous ideas into the real world simply by the power of thought. See how by simply joining hands around a field designated for a Fracking well spiritually aware people have caused tap water to flow green even though no drilling has actually taken place.  See how possible it is to believe that the sky is being deliberately poisoned by Chemtrails merely by ignoring the obvious fact that  if you fill up all those aeroplanes with tanks of chemicals you would have no room for the passengers or the fuel. Duh. What Havoon doesn’t want you to know is that if you spent half as long studying physics, Chesmistry and Biology as the hours you spend reposting all this stuff you would actually find out a great deal more about the inner workings of your mind and you wouldn’t keep falling for all that nonsense. However it’s better for him that you don’t so keep reposting those memes guys.

Here are some quotes for you to repost:
"Hey, this guy is really on to something" – Albert Einstein
"What?" – John Lennon
"Haven’t got a clue" – Sigmund Freud
"The Truth?  You can’t handle the truth" – the Dalai Lama
"Religion is where a bunch of people believe unthinkingly in what their messiah says. What I say to my followers is the truth. No really, it is.  Honestly.  Trust me I’ve been on the tele" – Richard Dawkins

Soon after he started teaching, Havoon received the traditional Tibetan “authorisation to make donuts” from his teacher Lama Rama Ringdong, which was not only a great honour to have received, but also a valuable seal of approval from such a highly regarded Charlatan.
  •  He will share his own experience of donut making to inspire you with the confidence that anyone can enter the acutely impoverished state.
  •  He will explore his groundbreaking ‘torusological’ philosophy that will help you become conscious of the spiritual shallowness of your being, and also exploitatively embrace your vulnerable humanity.
  •  He will invite you to directly experience the wonderful oneness and all-embracing love that naturally arises when we hand over our cash to him
He is best known for his groundbreaking work on the Wonderful World of Facebook including The Mystery is Why the heck Does Anybody Believe this Stuff in the First Place?, and You only have to look it up on Snopes which never made it to the top 10 best-seller in the UK and USA, and nor did it become ‘Book of the Year’ in the UK Daily Telegraph. He runs Stupidity Experience Retreats internationally, during which he personally guides participants to hand over their wallets.

Obviously you will believe everything he says because he’s much cleverer than you are and you really can’t be arsed to find out the truth even if it’s only looking it up a bit on Wikipaedia.
He is pioneering an accessible new way to experience a profound bank balance awakening, which fully embraces our tender, vulnerable, flawed humanity. He has spent his life exploring the awakened state he often simply calls the ‘Where did all my savings go? experience and is able to guide others directly to it.
He is the founder of The Society for Exploiting Poor Suckers in Society, (SEPSIS), an organization dedicated to our collective bamboozlement.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Message from Your Spiritual Mentor

Havoon Al’aaf  is a spiritual mentor, professional speaker and author of ‘Transferring Your Bank Balance to Me'.  Subscribe to my newsletter ‘Honestly, Are You Genuinely That Stupid?’

Having worked on the family donut stand, the corporate world and my own personal development companies for most of the last 6 months, I asked the question: "so what?"  I was no longer satisfied with mere personal success and achievements. That may be fun and all well and good, but surely there was much more to living than we were led to believe? Money, fast cars, speed boats.  What do they represent?  What spiritual value do they have?  So I set out to destroy my reliance on all these worthless trappings. My aim was to live simply and harmoniously with the planet. But the dissatisfation with success itself was more problematical. How exactly do you divest yourself of personal success and achievements? I mean, if I set out to destroy all my doings, once I’d disposed of them I would have achieved that goal and I would have become successful again.  So it became clear that in order to get rid of all this personal success and achievement I had to fail and fail pretty miserably at something.  So I chose one of my goals, the one that said I was to dispose of all my wealth and posessions and fail at it. And to make sure my humiliation was complete I had to fail pretty miserably.  But here I was in a bit of a Catch 22 situation. I could only achieve what I set out to do if I failed to achieve it.  Or, to put it the other way, I could only fail by failing to fail and thereby achieve.  Anyway, the upshot was that I should become as rich as possible in order to give myself the satisfaction of living at one with the world.  Meanwhile I could thoroughly castigate myself for failing to dispose of all this wealth. And at the same time to make my secret known to you so that you too can fail abjectly in your life and lose everything you have in a spectacular and unprecedented style.

From the especially auspicious date of the 13th  of August 2013, last week, I began my long and arduous journey into investigating and understanding the nature of human being as part of Nature and a greater Cosmos. It soon became pretty obvious that you aren’t going to be able to work this out for yourselves.  And you would need some spiritual leader like me to sort it all out for you.  For a very reasonable price. I spent hours on Wikipaedia researching the works of cosmetic company scientists, rock musicians and general charlatans. That journey still continues today and as soon as I’ve finished my coffee I will begin my next great work of the compilation a number of quotes from some of these teachers and others who have practised some of the greatest deceits and manipulations that the public accept as 'truth'.  And where I can’t find quotes to fit my ideas I will make them up.

In reality, each individual is a powerful being with infinite potential that is beyond your comprehension. But I recognise that you are too stupid ever to do anything about it. I access this potential for you by tapping into your bank balance, which is far more profound and interesting to me on my quest than your own personal creativity. There is no way of stopping a person from reaching into creativity except through fear which is triggered by the survival mechanism.  So I guarantee to scare the pants off you each time you access your credit card statement.

In my first book, ‘Transferring Your Bank Balance to Me', I will reveal some of the greatest illusions that have been created to keep you in a state of fear and survival. I also reveal how to circumnavigate the barrage of illusions so that you can enjoy the success and power that you already possess. But by the time you get to chapter 2 you will be so bored by all my nonsense and my unutterably turgid literary style you’ll never make it.  Ha ha Suckers.

‘Transferring Your Bank Balance to Me' will be available in eBook format, print and audio-book as soon as I can be bothered to do anything about it.