I woke this morning to a headline in The Observer which concerned me greatly. While I gave an interview to the paper which is reasonably reflected in the body of the article, the headline is ludicrous and sensationalist. I would like to clarify matters as best I can here:
My play ‘The Events’ is NOT as musical. It is NOT about Anders Breivik. The Events is a project which uses a fictional story to explore how communities and individuals heal after traumatic violence. To make the piece we will work with community choirs who will bring their own songs and repetoire. My decision to conduct some research in Norway on the way in which Norwegian society has approached the aftermath of it’s trauma has opened a door which has allowed Breivik’s name to be attached to my project. I know that many people in Norway still feel extremely raw about Utoya and reading this headline will have stirred up feelings of anger and hurt and perhaps also fears about exploitation. I would like to reassure anyone concerned that the project and play do not mention Breivik, Oslo or Norway. The play’s ‘events’ are wholly fictional. I am very sorry if this insensitive headline has caused any distress or upset to any people in Norway.’ David Greig
It’s difficult to know where to start,
With Victoria Featherstone about to depart
Celebration, yes, but also grieving
As we think about her leaving.
No organisation wants to be stuck in a rut
It’s great she’s going to London but –
Despite very much wanting to be jolly
There’s an inevitable edge of melancholy,
There’s no avoiding it – it’s a bummer
So what tone to strike? How up to sum her?
With a compilation of best bits, like in Big Brother?
Or perhaps a festschrift or some other form of
Memory book? The question is how best to log her well?
And I chose poetry, or rather, doggerel.
So if you’ll grant me a minute or so of your time
I’ll set out a vote of thanks in Rhyme
A vote of thanks but
Thanks for what?
For this extraordinary thing she spun –
From nothing but an idea, a radical thought, just one
Do not what have we always done,
But what we ought to do
If our intention is to make our theatre completely new
A National Theatre of Scotland – NTS
Yes, it was made by all of us, of course, I know that, yes
But Vicky was it’s conjuror, it’s midwife, it’s shaman
And she also directed it’s first big show – Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman.
She set out her ideas at first
In Home – the moment NTS Burst
Upon the world – a theatre not just Philosophically
of Scotland – but something completely new
A theatre of Scotland – geographically too -
A theatre who’s front of house was Lerwick
Who’s backstage loading area was Berwick
Downstage Left somewhere like Ayr
Perhaps the Gaiety Theatre there
Dundee was the wings, Inverness the gods
How long can I keep this metaphor going, what are the odds?
Edinburgh, the circle, Glasgow the stalls,
The royal box – the Rothes Halls.
Geographical curiosity so filled her
She even did a show in St Kilda.
I suspect, she would have done show in Rockall
Is there an audience there? No – in fact, there’s fuckall
But granite and the lonely honk of passing seals
But I’ve had shows Aberdeen so I know how that feels.
Vicky’s theatre wasn’t to be national is in, ‘ism’
But national as seen through the dispersing prism
Of the Scottish Archipelago –
But she’s also in this business we call ‘show,’
And in it she’s been an impresario
Who’s produced extraordinary world class work
Not all of it written by Gregory Burke
Shows by writers, shows by auteurs,
Show to delight your Shakespeare quoters
Shows with motorbikes, with fiddles
Shows that were maybe a bit saggy round the middle
Many shows that have featured a turn
By actors such as Tam Dean Burn,
Alison Peebles and Alan Cumming
Musicals that got the punters humming
Shows that caught the spirit of the times
Shows declaimed in terrible rhymes
Shows by Harrower, Harris, Greenhorn
Shows like Caledonia that have been torn
Apart by critics but, come on!
Wasn’t it worth it to see Paul Higgins with funny tights on?
Shows by kids who do Parkour
Shows on endless worldwide tour
Mainstream shows, and also edgy yins
Shows by crazy fucking Belgians
And some shows that seemed to grab the zeitgeist by the crotch.
I’m talking, of course, about Black Watch.
That monster hit about a regiment
Which ended with questions asked in parliament
Prince Charles saw it and Rupert Murdoch,
Elaine C Smith, and Douglas Hurd, och
Anyone who’s anyone saw it, but that’s not the point
– the point of all this is
They also performed it in Glenrothes
And that extraordinary show in Fife.
Changed folks life.
Talking of regiments and monsters calls to mind
John Knox, thrawn Scot, historically hymning
Against The Monstrous Regiment of Women
Which was a dig at Mary Queen of Scots
But frankly it kind of sums up lots
Of those thrawn Scots who caused a fuss – and said
That Vicky ‘wisnae quite, well… one of us.’
Now five years on – and looking back
I want to blast the trumpet back
And say – ‘one of us?’ – fuck that pish
She expanded ‘us’, we are now bigger fish
In a bigger pond -
There is a part of Scotland’s psyche now, that no one owns
Because it’s Vicky Featherstone’s.
So let’s get personal – what were your highlights?
Mine were those amazing Vicky nights
When she’d sit with you – give you the best of her brain
At half past midnight on a sleeper train
Or the moments you’d see that light in her eyes
Because something you said took her by surprise
And you could see her thinking – whiz whiz whiz –
I bet we could find a show in this -
But my favourite reminiscence is
One that captures her quintessence
It’s the day I saw her in Atlantic Chambers
I’m not sure if any of you remembers
That first office there? 2006, in winter
On her very first day – room, phone, desk, printer.
And nothing else, absolute zero,
But Vicky Featherstone – our unlikely hero
About to set off on her quest.
And so she did what does best
She rolled up her sleeves and got to work
Making imaginary things real -
And that grey day on Hope Street
She printed off an A4 sheet which
Said ‘National Theatre Of Scotland’ Nothing more -
And she blu-tacked it to the door.
When people ask me what the National Theatre of Scotland is,
I say it’s this – that whiz, whiz, whiz;
That look in her eyes;
A sign, a door, a dream to realize -
A theatre, of which Theatre can be proud
Not just Scotland, although that’s allowed.
A theatre built without walls
In pubs, in tower blocks, village halls
In big pros arches like the Lyceum.
And places only a few people got to see ‘em.
Nothing impossible, no barriers, no fences
A theatre to delight the senses,
Intellect and heart
And that’s what she dreamed
Way back at the start.
And now it’s the end – or a new beginning
I guess, a flitting, a quitting while we’re winning
And she’s passed on the baton to Laurie Sansom
Charismatic, witty, talented, handsome
(that’s me just trying to pitch for a job)
I can see folk willing me to shut my gob, so
Scotland’s loss is London’s gain
We will not see her like again,
Of course we’re sad, it’d be daft not to be
But good things, and bad poems end,
that’s how it’s got to be
Without wanting to seem like an obsequious wanker
Perhaps the simplest thing is just to thank her.
David Greig, 10.12.12, Tramway Glasgow.
A path is a conversation
Between the walker and the ground
The mess of a peat track
Over Rannoch Moor
Is an argument
That goes on and on and on and on.
There are some paths
written in languages
only deer understand
Some paths are laid out
are more like
notes towards a path
than actual paths.
Some paths talk to you
Some paths shout at you
Some paths call to you from the hillside opposite.
Some paths are just plain
– boring, you know?
‘Yadda yadda yadda’
Some paths are straight
Some paths are perverse
Some paths are as direct and surprising
As the sudden impulse
To kiss someone.
Some paths reveal themselves
So that each turn and twist
Feels like a lover
Whispering across a pillow
‘here… this way… here…here
The West Highland Way
Is not a path
It is a way.
And therefore it is
Less a conversation
Than a very big book
With several chapters.
And an appendix.
All paths come to an end, in the end
Some in ellipses…
Some with a full stop.
Some paths even end with a dash –
All paths takes you to the same place
It all begins with the putting of one foot
In front of the other
And as the first foot falls a shift of weight,
A lift, a swing, a roll, a step
The second falls, a shift again,
And now an easy rythym of
Roll, step, lift, swing, roll,
step, lift, swing, roll,
step, lift, swing, roll.
A breath goes out
a breath comes in,
and sometime round a minute in -
A million inflections of muscle,
synapse, lung and blood
converge to become a chord,
And I am moving forward
A poem too begins
with the careful placing of a foot,
Each foot a beat, each beat a breath
Each breath a word – to form a line
The sentence unfolding
like a path ahead
Starting anything, I suppose, requires
a careful dipping of the toes
Into the stream of now.
A moment’s thought and then
we jump into the present
And so it is with The Way,
It all begins with giving in,
A surrender to the ritual of the run:
This ninety five mile incantation
Conjuring the present in an infinite beat.
Of roll step lift swing roll.
Roll step lift swing roll.
Roll step lift swing roll.
David Greig – 21 June 2012