I'm coming down with something, so my voice is terribly sore. And last night I hosted a climate change themed cabaret night in a venue that can only be described as acoustically unsympathetic. During the course of the gig my voice gave out more and more; by the end I'd open my mouth unsure of whether anything would come out.
During the course of this morning a series of people at the event the gig was part of came up to ask how my voice is. It's very nice of them. But sympathy isn't usually the reaction you're looking for after a show.
Never mind my voice, what about the material?
So today feels as apposite a day as any to be launching a new podcast series. A big thank you to Exeunt Theatre Magazine for giving me the push to make this happen, and in particular to the support of Catherine Love.
The Faraway Tree is a series of conversations about theatre and other worlds. In each episode I'll talk to someone new about theatre (and the world) where they are. These will mostly be from around the UK, with the occasional foray into internationalism when I'm working abroad. Where they come from will be dictated by my travel itinerary. If there hasn't been one from where you are, Exeunt aren't giving me travel expenses, so you need to persuade your local theatre to book me.
Andrew Haydon has written before that his reviews of international work get far fewer readers than his reviews of London-based work. This seems peculiar given that it's the internationalism he's known for, and it's the internationalism which gives him his particular perspective. This podcast, like Andrew's dispatches from Europe, is an invitation to hear from the world beyond London, and I hope people will heed both of those invitations. There are several theatre podcasts I admire hugely, but I can't help but notice that most of the people on them have the same accent, and are discussing work made within the same few square miles. This isn't intended as a corrective to that limitation, but I hope it'll be a useful addition.
The first episode is a conversation with the Glasgow-based writer and performer Kieran Hurley. We spoke on the day of the referendum on Scottish independence, so we talked a lot about that. The conversation also danced to identity, 7:84, music and identity again. We probably talked about capitalism too, although I don't remember that specifically. We certainly talked about the uneasy relationship between culture and state politics. I enjoyed it immensely.
I've also recorded one with the Middlesbrough playwright Ishy Din, although I need to do a bit of editing on that before you can hear it. So the next one will be from Manchester, followed by Lancaster, followed by wherever I am next.
Hopefully by then I'll have my voice back. Especially as the first comment to roll in on this first episode on twitter was this.
And this time I don't think I can say, never mind my voice, what about the material. As I hope to have expressed above, here voice is part of the material. The different voices you'll hear alongside mine - and I don't mean voice in the farty literary manager sense, but in the sense of the sounds you make with your face - are all produced by different perspectives, different experiences, and different relationships to the business of remaining alive in this world.
Let me know what you think.
Oh, it's here, by the way.
Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will