As you might expect I am more interested in the work I have yet to make than the work I have made. Perhaps because the work I haven’t made hasn’t disappointed me. I want to make work that has a crafted quality, which is about things that matter. I want to make work that feels like it would only work in the space that it is showing in and I want to explore all of the ways that the audience feels part of the event. Ideas arrive all the time and I am certain that many of the things I will go on to do I haven’t thought of yet. But here are a few of the thoughts that are currently swimming about in my head. some of them have been there too long …..
every time i see chickens running free i am strangely touched. i love their apparent ordinariness. and yet something like 10 million chickens are ‘dispatched’ each day in the UK. I think this is less a play and more a collection of photos, writings, facts, infographs and colour charts. it might have to wait as an idea.
a canon of english county plays
This idea is to create a kind of theatrical doomsday book of life in each of the 48 english counties. (defining how counties there are is a challenge) then commission a writer for each county to write the play they wish that springs from that county. Then make them available ‘rights’ free for performance by amateurs, schools and professionals. The thought is that some might start as alliances with a particular theatre – say Chichester and Sussex – and each would be called simply ‘the Wiltshire play’. About £750k
Mr and Mrs Macbeth
My dear friend, Kevin Dyer, and I had a conversation about all the ideas we wanted to make but never talk about. As we were finishing our tea and talking about other stuff he said ‘and i have always wanted to do version of Macbeth that treats it like a domestic drama’ and the idea was born. Since then we have started to talk to soldiers returning from war and their wives. Astonishing stories have started to bubble up. Who knows where this will lead. we still think it is a two person drama, that we might have a soldier and their wife sitting on the stage watching the drama, we might use video and recorded sound.
And then the British Council asked us to nominate an idea for Shakespeare reworked to mark the 400th anniversary of his death and we find ourselves proposing to go work with the Red Army in China. We shall see.
The Great Hedge of India
This was a customs barrier built by the British rulers across India in the 1840s to facilitate collecting the heavy salt tax. The barrier consisted of fences, stone walls, and a nearly impenetrable barrier of trees, thorny bushes, and hedges, with periodic guard stations. The hedge was forgotten in India as well as in Britain, without even passing mentions in standard histories, until its existence was unearthed by Roy Moxham, a conservator at the University of London Library. At the peak of its existence, the Customs Line ran nearly 2,000 miles (3,200 km), and was manned by about 12,000 personnel actively patrolling and guarding the barrier. My thought is that there is something wonderfully English and revelatory in this story.
Godalming, which is just up the road from Farnham, was the first town to have public lighting. There has to be an event in this, perhaps a touring show for village halls about the night the lights were switched on. Funnily in Godalming the idea didn’t catch on and after a few years they were turned of.
half an idea
I used to live in north Nottinghamshire and the village shop was were you left messages – and sometimes things you had borrowed. there is half an idea in me for a show about that world. not an ‘open all hours’ story but something about small worlds and the role they play at their best.