BSC Address

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Couple of interesting days coming up: I've been invited to Ireland to join a panel discussion on Freedom of Speech at the Theatre Forum conference. I guess this is because of my comments about BEZHTI, the play that was cancelled by the Birmingham Rep after violent demonstations broke out at the theatre by Sikh protesters. I immediately felt and still do that it was terrible mistake by the Rep to cancel the show, which they felt they were forced to do because the continuing threat of violence. Yet people all over the world are constantly facing up to the threat of violence against freedoms which we in this country sometimes take for granted.

I strongly felt that all sides in the dispute ducked their responsbilities. I wasn't very popular amongst some of the theatre community, who were sympathetic to the Rep's position. But where does it stop? How many other freedoms do we sacrifice in the face of intimidation by people who don't allow for alternative views or beliefs? In my view the country changed on that day. It was a bad day for Birmingham, a bad day for theatre, a bad day for the Sikh community and a bad day for the country.

On a brighter note (!!) the BSC are off to Buckingham Palace to celebrate the Queen's birthday on 25 June. THE JUNGLE BOOK is forming part of the backdrop in the palace garden's and Mowgli and his friends will be in a jungle enclave. Let's hope the weather is equally tropical!

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Tomorrow I start rehearsals for HORRIBLE HISTORIES. I feel like I have never rehearsed before in my life - and this must be the 76th play I've been in! A very strange, albeit fresh taste in my mouth. With four shows running at the moment, this is what they call Extreme Actor/Managing. It's only undertaken by foolhardy enthusiasts who need that extra kick of excitement. I am sure I shall find out very quickly just what a 'rush' it can be!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


And so we return from Dubai. The first two evenings there were amongst the best of our lives. On Monday we all went on a boat trip, which was shaping up to be one of the worst evenings we've ever had! The boat was awful, the food inedible and it all seemed to be topped off when my chair started slowly collapsing beneath me. Strangely, I couldn't stop laughing, thinking no-one could be having a worse evening of 'entertainment' in the world! But then, out of nowhere appeared an aggressive pantomime horse, which proceeded to attack us, followed by two wrestling dummies, an Egyptian Mr Blobby and a man spinning a plate. It was truly one of the funniest nights any of us had ever experienced. Unrepeatable. Indescribable. And then the bus got lost taking us home. The perfect ending to an extraordinary night!

The following evening couldn't have been more different - or perfect. We travelled into the desert, or rather everyone else went into the desert in cars across the dunes. I had to go the short way to camp because of my dodgy neck - and had an hour alone sitting in the desert as the sun set. It was magical in such an easy way. Then everyone arrived at camp and we had a seamless evening of riding, smoking, eating, dancing and laughing in the darkness of the desert. It ended much too soon. And I got a hint of why people fall in love with the desert. The peace. The isolation. The community.

The day before we left we went in a river taxi along the creek for one breath-taking hour and enjoyed a superbly relaxing night-time drink in the open air of an Arabian bar.

Dubai is a very strange place but it does seem to offer these extraordinary possibilities.

Meanwhile the show sold out, we received rave reviews and between shows the cast relaxed on the beach, swam in the sea or flopped by the pool. It was just like Birmingham.