Why people don’t go to the theatre.

First of all let me say, on the question of why don’t people go to the theatre. Of course people go to the theatre. But for the purpose of this quickly put together piece, I’m more concerned with those people that don’t go to the theatre. But should.

Theatre has, in my opinion, like many of the arts been hijacked.

In simple terms because it is such an enjoyable medium, it didn’t take long for shall we say, ‘people with money’ (no better way I can put it as I want to stay away from terms like ‘Upper’ & ‘lower class’, but you get my gist?), noticed there was profit to be made.

Rich people decided they could make some cash by taking control and keeping it  (theatre) for themselves. In other words, sell it to their rich friends and acquaintances.

History shows us that for instance, during Shakespeare’s time and before, theatre was for the masses. A popular and exciting experience that dealt with the issues of the times. An entertainment for the ‘great unwashed’ to enjoy in their own way. Theatre was an adjunct to the public house. What could be better? A pub with entertainment. And theatre was cheap. Therefore… popular and packed.

Naturally, it wasn’t that long before theatre’s success was noticed by profiteers & businessmen as a hub of money-making activity. A business  proposition if there ever was one. But work was needed.

It had to be handled correctly and above all…sanitised. Cleansed. Made fit for those used to comfort and getting their own way, those with the real money to spend.

The first thing the moneymen had to do was to make the theatre appear inclusive. That it was only available to the chosen few. That to enter on in, there were now certain ‘rules’ that had to be followed.

To make the point, over time a Dress and Behavioural code was introduced.

A sort of ‘myth’ was spread that to enjoy this ‘new form of entertainment’ required not only wealth but also manners and civility. Or to put it another way ‘CLASS’.

Naturally, the drinkers and ribald  theatre go-ers of old, faltered.

The loud, do-anything, just enjoy yourself atmosphere of the theatre soon became a thing of the past. And the ordinary citizen found themselves wanting in the  required evening suit or ball gown department.

To top it off came the inevitable…the price rise.

The theatre that the average citizen had come to love and look forward to after a hard week on the mudflats was now out of sight and most definitely out of pocket.

The task of stopping the so-called riffraff from polluting the stalls was a success. Theatre became and still is a pastime for those with money to spend.

But it goes even further…word was spread that a certain educational level was needed to really enjoy the theatre. That the stories behind the plays were far too intellectually demanding for the average citizen, especially those who worked on the land tending mud.

Playwrights were offered a standing that implied that they were somehow purveyors of the psychological. That their stories were beyond the scope of average unread men and women. Everything had deep or double meanings and plays were no longer presented with a beginning, middle and end.

If you, poor average citizen came expecting to enjoy this new theatre then you were in for a shock. You would leave puzzled, out of place and with a serious headache. That’s if you could afford it in the first place.

The ploys on plays (see what I did there?) worked. The takeover was successful

To this day the average citizen does not go to the theatre.

The TV set offers a cosier, ‘safer‘ experience in the comfort of your own home which is a great sham and shame. To go to the theatre as something to be done naturally has been forgotten. And as usual, so good was the highjacking the general public does not know or has forgotten what it is missing.

BUT, (there is always a ‘but’) perhaps  times are slowly, very slowing changing  maybe the theatre is waking up to its past sins?

Lacking in audiences’ and therefore their life-blood theatres are at last dropping prices or at the very least allowing special days and times for the peasants to begin to reclaim what is rightfully theirs.

Playwrights (not all) are once again attempting to make sense and above all communicate their ideas so that the majority can understand and perhaps above all recognise them.

And thankfully, the bollocks of so-called theatre etiquette is at last being dropped (although it is not unknown for some (snobs) to insist on wearing fur coats and evening dress on First Nights).

People are returning to theatre slowly. Yet there is still a lot to do.

The rise of the actor and playwright as Personality, Prophet and Seer has to be curtailed and they have to return to looking as themselves as the tellers of stories, our stories.

Like so many successful and money-making ventures theatre now has university courses to teach ‘how to..’ Not necessary.  A storyteller is born not taught and if skills need honing (which they will do), the stage will do that.

Which leaves the Last Stand.

Amateur theatre and the myriad of companies spread up and down the country are so very important. They are at at the root of life’s experience. This where it all begins. Where the stories themselves begin their journey. Where they come from. Where the best actors and playwrights, the purveyors of the art always come from. 

They are to be cherished. Continually fed with talent and those just wanting to explore. Above all kept free from the wanna-bees and those who see theatre as a gravy train and the route to a fast buck.

 

Zahawi poised to take throne?

Breaking news from the Stratford upon Avon Herald.

WHY don’t Stratfordians protest?

The (destructive) power of Prayer.

With all the love in the world…wake up and smell the coffee.

 

Zahawi poised to take throne?

The Stratfordian
Un-official ‘Prince Charles Cuff link pose’
The Stratfordian
‘Official Cuff Link pose’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I note that in the Stratford upon Avon Herald’s picture of education minister/chancellor/number 10 doorman/etc,etc Nadhim Zahawi has adopted the ‘Prince Charles grasp a cufflink ‘ pose. Does anyone else besides me find this alarming? How are we to take this? Behind the lizard- like smile is this really…

An unconscious but truthful sign as to where his true ambitions lie or perhaps a signal to his band of followers that he is, (perish the thought), ready.
Whatever the reasoning behind the display might I suggest that all monarchists take his lead and also make themselves…ready to deflect any disrespect or danger to her majesty’s throne.
God bless you ma’am. X

Breaking news from the Stratford upon Avon Herald.

The Shit Police.

Resources low but battle goes bravely on…

No rest for the shitting dogs of Stratford upon Avon.

A spokesperson for the Stratford upon Avon police (A.C.D. Animal crap division) said today…

‘All our officers undergo an intensive training period at the end of which they are able to identify at least thirty types of animal waste product eminating from the bowel area. They are trained to work in all types of weather and perhaps more importantly at night where their training enables them to identify animal faeces by smell alone’.

 

The Stratfordian
Stratford Police at Shottery Fields.  Stratford-upon-Avon ·
Several near misses of dog 💩 today whilst out on patrol on Shottery fields! 🤮 Gross!!
The Sergeant wasn’t impressed!

Happy Birthday to me.

Zahawi poised to take throne?

The (destructive) power of Prayer.

With all the love in the world…wake up and smell the coffee.

With all the love in the world…wake up and smell the coffee.Refugee crisis

 

WHY don’t Stratfordians protest?

I freely admit that I am one of those people who wander around with a permanent furrowed brow. I’m not in pain nor am I waiting for something awful to happen. I am actually wondering. I am in a permanent state of asking the question…’WHY’.

Because I am only human, the ‘WHY’ question, as you might expect varies from week to week, if not day to day. But lately the ‘WHY’ has stuck with me for some days. Why now (that’s not the ‘WHY’ question by the way) I wonder. Why (nor that) has this particular puzzle began to weigh me down. And then it hit me…

Everybody is protesting.

It’s in the air. People are not happy. In fact, people are angry. They are fit to explode because no-one, (the authorities, the ‘powers that be’ etc) is listening. The environment. The government. The cost of living. You name it. People are fit to burst. And I have a feeling that the next few years are going to ones of protest, and I for one say, HURRAH and about bloody time. But, even this is not my ‘WHY’.

My ‘WHY’ is more localised. My ‘WHY’ is ‘WHY’ is Stratford upon Avon so tame’. So, sheepish. ‘WHY’ for instance, when the town so obviously has a problem with an infestation of traffic has no-one done anything about it?

Every year since I’ve lived here (since 1971) there has been some sort of….what would you call it…a survey? An official look at the state of our streets. And always the same conclusion is reached. Stratford upon Avon has too much traffic flowing through its narrow streets. And then…NOTHING. OK, maybe a few streets are experimentally closed off and then…NOTHING. I remember a time when an electric bus introduced…then…NOTHING. Anyway my point is why have Stratfordians not protested about this literally poisonous situation. Why have whoever is in power at any given time, been allowed to get away with doing…NOTHING?

There will be some who say that protest achieves nothing. But I beg to differ.

Way, way back in the ‘80’s I was part of a group that protested about the presence of the South African Apartheid government being present at the Shakespeare celebration. In fact I got arrested (and yes, I am proud of that fact-I got fined for ‘disturbing the peace’ and the generous actors at the RSC passed the hat and paid it for me. £92 a lot of money in those days). Anyway, it changed things. Suspicious governments were no longer welcome and the Shakespeare celebrations became…………..(fill this in yourself).

My point (at last).

Why don’t Stratfordians protest about the long-term problem of traffic pollution. Especially as the solution has been searched for, for far too long. (The solution – Ban Traffic. There, that was easy wasn’t it).

This is serious stuff. The effects of traffic pollution especially on Children and old folks like me are well known.

Why haven’t they taken to the streets to let their views known? Do Stratfordian’s care? Do they have views? About anything?

(At this point I was going to mention writing to Stratford’s member of Parliament but then I remembered it was Nadhim Zahawi).

Anyway, just to say in anticipation, yes I am willing to take part in a protest and if you agree with me that this is a very important issue…

SOONER RATHER THAN LATER…

On being mixed-race.

How many different types of US there are…

Happy Birthday to me.

Zahawi poised to take throne?

Breaking news from the Stratford upon Avon Herald.

 

The (destructive) power of Prayer.

I guess one of the many reasons my career as a Priest in the Church of England was curtailed was my lack of faith.

Take prayer for instance. I came to realise the destructive power of prayer quite early on.

It didn’t take long for me to reason how unfair it all was. The jubilation and joy in the faces of those who found their requests granted and the sadness and despair in those who got nowhere. It was a bit like winning the lottery. Chance. Luck.

the stratfordian's art
The Last Resort’. 2022.
Oil on canvas. An observation on prayer.

Like a beggar on the streets who adopts a similar pose (kneeling, hands clasped) watching his or her hat fill (or not) with coins of the realm.

The trouble was in a lot of cases the despair was doubled because the failure of the prayer would often be put down to that terrible guilt-inducer ‘Lack of Faith’. And not just by the owner of the failed prayers but by those who felt themselves in favour with God. Of course, all dangerous nonsense.

And I was expected to sit there smiling and offering up ridiculous platitudes that made me want to gag. Crap such as, ‘Well now is obviously not the right time’ or ‘God has obviously decided that that is not the pathway He wants you to follow’ or perhaps worst of all, ‘God obviously has other plans for you’.

This Priest had no real answer but spewed out the nonsense anyway. AND sat there watching the courage of the unanswered as they swallowed their disappointment wondering what they had done to deserve this treatment (something in a past life perhaps?) and…AND amazingly carrying on not only with their lives but with their faith as well.

GO FIGURE.

With all the love in the world…wake up and smell the coffee.

The Stratfordian
Thank you from the bottom of my heart but it’s time to call it a day.

There comes a time when even the best in the world should wake up and smell the coffee. Even the one-time-best in the world should do the right thing and realise that they can’t do it anymore and if they do make an attempt, their legacy is at risk.

I’ve had to turn off Paul McCartney’s efforts at Glastonbury and I do it out of respect.

I just couldn’t take all those wonderful songs that were a very important part of my growing up, just being croaked out and by the man himself. So sad and I can’t bear it.

I guess that once you’ve been to the top of the mountain it’s extremely difficult to come down. It must be like an addiction.

You’re so used to being up high, to come down to earth is nigh impossible especially as people continue to tell you and write about how marvellous you are and what a genius etc, etc. And in Paul’s case, one of the greatest song writers in the world. Let’s face it, how are you going to let go of all that? You are gonna want to stick around forever aren’t you.

But that’s not how it works…

It’s the songs that stick around forever not the person who writes and sings them. Paul is only human and it’s beginning to show. The voice at 80 years old is behaving just like it you’d expect. It’s cracking up. The fluidity of the performance is changing and even reasons for watching the great man are different than they used to be…and that’s why I turned it off.

I don’t want Paul McCartney to become a museum piece. A curiosity. A fair ground freak. OK, some might say we’re not there yet but it’s obviously just around the corner and I don’t want to watch it happen. I have too much respect for the man and I owe him so much.

I don’t want to have to watch and find myself making a judgement call about how old he has suddenly become since I last saw him. Of course he has…he’s 80 years old. The McCartney I ‘knew’ and enjoyed was in his 20’s/30’s/40’s. And he no longer exists. And besides that I want to hear his masterpieces at their best. That’s the beauty of recordings they don’t age, they’re recordings of a wonderful moment in time.  Unfortunately, us soft, fleshy things age and then we die.

So Paul (if I may be familiar for a moment)…time to put your feet up mate. And thank you very,  very much for your service.

And if you could tell your mates, Elton, Rod, Roger (I’m not sure about Mick) to do the same that would be great. X

IFH.

 

 

Refugee crisis

The arrival today of the giant refugee puppet Amil in Stratford upon Avon today (I forgot) got me wondering about the world’s present day refugee crisis (who’s having the crisis by the way – the refugees or the ‘receiving country’) and the ferocity of feelings against those who for various reasons want to escape, run away call it what you will, from their present location.

I want to say that I don’t understand the anger against these people but of course that’s not true. There’s only one reason certain refugees are not welcome in this country and that’s based around the colour of their skin. All the other stuff about ‘economic refugees’ or ‘there’s not enough room’ etc, etc is all bollocks and designed to cloak and put some sense of respectability around racism.

There’s not even an argument to be had.

The proof of the pudding….as they say is proven by the fact that if you are Ukrainian and want to get your family away from death and destruction (a sensible choice) AND you are white, you are welcome.

If however, you are from a war situation and want to leave for similar reasons BUT are brown or black er…‘hang on a minute my friend while we check that there are no other reasons that you might want to locate in the UK’. Simple as that.

Personally speaking, I believe that ‘wanting to improve One’s life’ is a valid reason for anyone to go anywhere that looks more inviting and could quite possibly stop you from starving or dying.

*Although, I do admit I am baffled as to why anyone of a different hue would want to come to this predominantly racist country and suffer some more at the hands of the ignorant and stupid who seem to be overpopulating this country at this present time.

Mind you, at the moment we are only locking illegal migrants up or sending them to Rwanda. We aren’t using torture er…yet? (OK…locking up and sending people to Rwanda is a kind of torture isn’t it…but it’s a very British torture isn’t it. Subtle torture-polite torture.

I’ve often wondered who’s feeding our black and brown brethren the guff about the welcome to be found in the UK. Why doesn’t the truth ever get through? Unless of course the situation in their own country is so dire that the abuse they’ll receive over here is minor and at the moment won’t blow you or your kids heads off.

* (Probably something to do with our stringent gun laws).

The condition of the boat.

I don’t know about anybody else but I’m finding myself quite concerned as to the condition of the boat we all appear to be rowing in and the ocean within which we are straining to move forward.

We appear to be getting nowhere and that’s because we are rowing against a very strong current and an even stronger wind.

What I’m trying to say here is the odd fact (odd because we don’t appear to have noticed), that we are falling more and more under the control, the auspices of ‘those who are nothing like us’.

Let me attempt to explain what I mean.

First off, by ‘we’ I mean those of us who have lived relatively ‘normal’ lives. Lives where we have not accrued great wealth either inherited or made with a great idea or exceptional luck. None of which by the way is, wrong.

If you have made money in any way (but criminal) good luck, live long and proper. Power to your elbow.

What or rather who I find problematic are those because of their great wealth are so far removed from the rest of us, they have forgotten what it is to be human. Those that are so far removed that they no longer have anything in common with the rest of us.

To my point…

I am talking about those that as well as their wealth crave and have an unhealthy desire for Power and Control.

I don’t get it.

I don’t understand the connection or indeed the need to express wealth of the monetary kind alongside that of Power. Isn’t money enough? Why the need for Control as well?

For instance, I am currently represented in Parliament by a multi-millionaire who has absolutely no idea of the life lived by myself, or others like me.

One has only to look at his voting record to see that we have nothing in common and he at a very basic level has no understanding of my life or the predicaments that I find myself in. Yet he insists on telling me how I should be able to live my life.

His views for instance on shall we say, poverty, bear no resemblance to my own thoughts on what it means to be poor.  And in this the year of our lord, 2022, it is proven that his views, his ideas have no bearing on how a major segment of the population lives. And that is because a large proportion of the population of the UK, is hungry and poverty stricken.

But then how could he? He’s a millionaire for Christ’s sake. Him and me and lots of others, we live at opposite ends of the scale.

To put it bluntly, he will not starve but some of the people he represents, will. (And yes I am aware that I live in Stratford upon Avon, one of the wealthier places in the country but even here, people will go hungry).

So, what has happened to us to allow the above situation to exist?

How have we, we who (so they tell us) live in a democracy allowed this to happen? And more importantly, what can we do about it? And more importantly still…is there in fact anything we can do about it?

Have we (as I suspect) before our very eyes and with our permission, allowed the rich to creep up on us and (if you’ll excuse the expression) take us from behind?

Have we been craftily distracted by lots of shiny objects like TV, the national lottery, the promise of owning our own house and postage stamp sized land (garden)?

Or was it the ‘well paid’ jobs (wages controlled by the rich of course) that allowed us (crammed into a flying tube) holidays abroad that made us take our eyes off the ball? (And talking of that why haven’t we noticed that our holidays abroad are quite different than theirs)?

————————————————-

At this point, let’s have a break. Ponder on this…

A rich person buys one pair of high-quality boots that will last him/her for years. Expensive yes, but one pair will suffice for some time.

A poor person buys cheaply made boots because that is all him/her can afford. These cheap boots will not last as they do not have the quality of the rich persons boots…

ERGO…the poor person spends more on boots than the rich person.

NOT ONLY THAT…The rich person owns the factory where the poor person’s cheap boots are made. Mr or Mrs Rich Person also controls the wages and thereby the quality of the boots that the poor person can afford.

————————————————

Anyway, what’s to be done?

Nothing.

I am of the opinion that the general population is, if not at ease with the present situation, quite willing and lazy enough to sit back and allow the rich ‘to sort things out’.

And as for The Rich, they are quite happy with the way things are.

We are my friends…a suicide case.

A few years ago (the 60’s, the 90’s even. Poll tax riots), there was something in the air. The people had a belief in themselves. A strength that I don’t believe will ever be replicated.

Unfortunately, the rich cottoned on, got together and did a job on us.

To cut a long story short. Madam Thatcher and her cohorts surgically and with great skill cut the balls off the working people of this country, closed us down and returned us to a craftily contrived pre-magna carta time.

Ladies and gentlemen. Fellow peasants.

We are being taken for fools.

The defense rests….

Confession time; Losing his faith (Part I)

I wish I could do that. I wish I could paint

70 years on the throne

Short Poem: Happy Days.

Is there a price to comedy?

 

70 years on the throne

Here we all are celebrating a rich woman’s 70 years on the throne, and I read this (below).

*Ambulance boss warns of collapse…

‘Mr Docherty told the ambulance service’s board of directors at a meeting on Wednesday (25th May) that patients suffering from heart attacks, strokes and blood clots were ‘dying every day’ due to ambulances being stuck outside hospitals for several hours.

I’m sorry, I don’t want to ruin your enjoyment of people marching up and down, balcony appearances and fly pasts…

BUT PLEASE, CAN WE STOP, HAVE A GOOD LOOK AT OURSELVES & RE-START BY GETTING EVERYTHING INTO PERSPECTIVE?

* The Stratford upon avon Herald. June 2nd 2022.

I wish I could do that. I wish I could paint

Facing up to it.

Short Poem: Happy Days.

Is there a price to comedy?

Guns for Good: The scourge of the firearm.

Being Nadhim Zahawi

The Stratfordian
Portrait By Richard Townshend

As one of Mr Nadhim Zahawi’s constituents (although I admit not a Tory voter), I have to say how disgusted I am to his nodding dog attitude to everything the PM says or perhaps more importantly, does.

Always in agreement or should I say obedience he has never offered one doubtful word on what seeps out from Number 10. The man does not appear to have a mind of his own.

I live in Stratford upon Avon so it’s a given that we have a Tory MP and I accept that, although it hurts greatly. However, if I am to be represented in Parliament by someone I didn’t vote for I would at the very least hope that the person whose job that is (even a Tory), would show some character, backbone and perhaps more importantly, a personality that proved more than sponge-like.
I understand that Mr Zahawi was ‘parachuted’ into S-on-A’s Tory-safety-zone without opposition but that surely does not give him permission to be on permanent stand-by. He could for the sake of reality pretend to be a fighting MP. One concerned with the well-being of his constituents.
After all his constituents come in all flavours and he should attempt to address that even if it’s an act.
Instead what we get is a nodding dog, Johnson’s pet poodle who finds it in his heart to disagree with nothing. It’s almost as if he’s waiting for the knighthood to drop from the sky.
I actually think that he did a decent job as Vaccination minister (wash my mouth out with soap and water) but as Member of Parliament for Stratford upon Avon he is more than useless.

the stratfordian's art

‘Robbing the poor to feed the rich’. 2021. Acrylic on A3 canvas. IFH.


Rising as the cock crows

Dark and Light

70 years on the throne

Guns for Good: The scourge of the firearm.

 

Rising as the cock crows

I must admit that I am not an early riser. Or, let me put that another way. I am intentionally NOT an early riser.

To be honest my days of rising as the cock crows are thankfully over. That was probably my all time hate when I was working. The hour at which you had to get up to go to work. I hated it.

However, do not get the wrong impression. The above confession does not mean in the slightest that I sleep until I wake naturally. Oh happy day.

Around here (Trinity Mead – Stratford upon Avon) although the Cock crow died out years ago, we still have an animal to act as nature’s alarm clock.

I write of course of The Dog. the stratfordian's art

In these parts every other resident appears to have a dog and in most cases a bloody noisy dog.

Let it not be said that I am a pet hater because I am not. I think tortoises are wonderful. But dogs of the barking variety are another thing.

For the life of me I don’t understand why every dog owner around here, at more or less the same time (early morning – are they in cahoots?), opens their back door to let the family beast out to bark in and at, the back garden.

It’s like synchronised barking.

This is how it goes…

Back door opens dog (s) runs out…barking.

Then, and this is the bit that really gets me, the barking commotion is followed by the human owner shouting at the animal…to stop barking.

What we then have is a performance that last for approx 15 minutes coming at ya from various near-by locations. Barking and shouting. Shouting and barking.

As the early hours progress I lie awake, listening to the pattern repeated over and over again, some far away, some close.

All over Trinity Mead, dogs and owners large and small  bark and shout. Shout and bark.

Until they don’t.

But of course by then it is too late. I’m awake and ready for bed.

There is  indeed no no peace for the wicked.

Dark and Light

At home with the Stratfordians

70 years on the throne

Being Nadhim Zahawi

Dark and Light

This is a post of both dark and light…

Let’s start off happy. 😆

I wanted to congratulate the new (ish) owners of the Stratford upon Avon Herald and their successful (at least I think so) attempt in giving readers a proper local paper.

At last we find numerous articles, something more interesting than the obituary column (although I must admit that old habits die hard and it’s still the first place I go).

Readable print is also a big bonus along with the fact that it is at last possible to unfurl the paper in a high wind. All in all, a good job, I just hope it continues.

The misery comes in the form of yet another mealy-mouthed article written by The Leader of Stratford District Council as part of his, ‘District Matters’ column.

Basically this week we have a breakdown (in more ways than one) of what is to come in terms of our personal finances. Or, as I like to call it, our choices between ‘Heating & Eating’.

Anyway, on he rambles about how tough it is going to get, and we might as well kill ourselves now (I put that in). And above all we find out what has caused this terrible tumble into the mouth of hell.

Surprisingly, everything.

Except of course,  this present government.

At home with the Stratfordians

70 years on the throne

Guns for Good: The scourge of the firearm.

Being Nadhim Zahawi

Rising as the cock crows

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