Saturday, 28 September 2013

Theatre, Creativity and Things Philosophical...

     This week I went to the opening night of an intensely moving play, in which my grand-daughter, Anna Munden, was playing a leading role. Anna's been involved in theatre from babyhood (my daughter's a costume designer, and my son in law creates stage sets) and from the time she was a toddler, has always wanted to be an actress. Until recently, she's been involved in touring productions, mostly in the South West, so this Covent Garden debut, at the Tristan Bates Theatre http://www.tristanbatestheatre.co.uk/transports.asp, was her big moment. And incidentally, getting serious reviewers to go to a Fringe production is every bit as difficult as getting reviewers to read and comment on previously unknown authors.

     The play, TRANSPORTS, was written by Jon Welch, and it's very loosely based on the life story of Anna's other grandmother, who is a lot older than me. Her name is Liesl, and she's German-Jewish. As a fifteen year old, she was sent to the UK via the Kindertransport, by devoted parents she never saw again. The story is a dark one, but it ends in joy - it is, in fact, uplifting - which leads me into contemplating the role of darkness and evil in literature, because (uncomfortably), without evil/villains there would be no plot. As I say to kids when I do school visits, if the person you're writing about has a perfect day in which nothing, but nothing, goes wrong, then you don't have a story. Light shines more brilliantly where there is darkness - look at paintings.  It's an uncomfortable question. Liesl, who never reads fiction, asks, naively: "Why write stories about bad people?" The answer, unfortunately, is that without bad people, maybe there would be no stories.

     This leads us into a complex philosophical abyss... supposing we lived in the kind of world we're all striving for? Where everyone is happy and fulfilled? I remember a dystopian science fiction story from way back, in which people were equipped from birth with an 'exit' button. Those who were happy and contented never touched it. Creativity died out with those who pressed the button, and so eventually did humanity, suffocated in a featherbed of satisfaction and pleasure.

      And yet more philosophical stuff... a colleague of mine recently boasted that she was devoid of vanity (in spite of the fact that her hair, as usual, had been beautifully cut). This led me to question the true meaning of 'vanity' (OED: That which is vain, futile or worthless.) Imagine your world without mirrors, as it was, once. What would happen to your love/hate relationship with your own reflection? Would you just 'see' yourself in the eyes and words of others? What if they were lying? There's a book in this, somewhere...


      Finally to more frivolous things...My picture book: "...and Nobody Noticed the Mouse" is being launched at the much-loved Children's Bookshop in Muswell Hill, on October 15th. It's taken me a lot of courage to agree to set this up, because my husband and partner, David, won't be there to celebrate with me (he died suddenly in March this year). The book launch, in a sense, is for David, because without his support I could never have been able to pursue my career as an author. He was often my first reader (for picture book texts, I would sit him in a chair and tell him 'Now you're 3,4,5 years old again') He was a meticulous editor and critic, and, most recently, my ebook publisher, bringing back to life so many of my previously out of print books. To say that I miss him would be an understatement.



2 comments:

Lydia Bennet said...

I hope your launch goes well Enid, and the play too. What an amazing story to have in your family!

julia jones said...

...and Nobody Noticed the Mouse is a delightful book. I've enjoyed it already myself and will now begin sharing with my grandchildren. Congratulationson your grandaughter's success - and your own.