So on October 2nd I went alongside a coachload of others from York to Manchester’s March Against The Tories organised by the TUC. Predictably, the march was sealed off by police, the route didn’t seem to see a single member of the public and for the most part we were only chanting to ourselves. It seemed the example of a fruitless exercise, more demoralising than uplifting. A trudge through streets repeating chant after chant serves little purpose when the only people who can hear you were chanting the exact same thing a few minutes earlier. And with no media coverage whatsoever and nothing really appearing in the papers, it’s more like a play acted to no one, a performance without a crowd. As The Player says in Stoppard’s Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead:
“There we were—demented children mincing about in clothes that no one ever wore, speaking as no man ever spoke, swearing love in wigs and rhymed couplets, killing each other with wooden swords, hollow protestations of faith hurled after empty promises of vengeance—and every gesture, every pose, vanishing into the thin unpopulated air. We ransomed our dignity to the clouds, and the uncomprehending birds listened. Don't you see?! We're actors—we're the opposite of people!”
There were were-demented protestors shouting forth revolutionary anthems, holding high banners, placing very ounce of faith in unity. Every action went unnoticed upon the sleepy world tuned out behind a barrier of police. We’re activists-we’re the opposite of people!
Similar too was the Manchester occupation of Albert square, an attempt to recreate Tahir and Trafalgar occupations. If it wasn’t for the rain, we’d have having a kick about, dancing to a soundsystem and there’d be far more people trickling in. As it stood, in the miserable weather, we huddled under a weak canvas with the only option to listen to speakers. I performed Protest Hugs, the first ever time I’ve done a poem at a rally or political event when the audience didn’t really know me, York’s crowd usually recognise my face. Think I did alright, needed to be a littler calmer on the mic, make sure I could be heard, but few people cheered and said they enjoyed it so can’t complain. Also, my fans on my LikePage (http://www.facebook.com/HenryRabyPoetry) has gone up a lil (not that I’m a fame junkie or anything…)
WATCH THE VIDEO HERE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JV46mcg-ly0&feature=related
Here’s a little link: “Why is it all the intelligent people are socialists?!”-Headmaster, 40 Years On
On a very different note, I’m currently in 40 Years On at the Theatre Royal, York (http://www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk/cgi/events/events.cgi?t=template&a=750). Alan Bennett’s first play, it’s more a collection of sketches from his Oxford days, but nevertheless very funny sketches. It’s very fun to get back into acting, for some of the other lads it’s another job for them, but I haven’t had a nice role since spring 2010 when we did Henry IV Part 2 at Uni. So it feels refreshing to be part of a play that’s getting good reviews, getting laughs and has some interesting things to say about Britain and Englishness, out attitudes to war and literature. Our sense of morality and duty did not extend to actually being helpful, kind and generous in British society, and in an attempt to reclaim some sense of social justice post-world war two we have lost those notions of honour and stiffupperlipness. Or perhaps it’s about the last day of term and some lads mucking about. Judge for yourself, it’s on till next Saturday and I guarantee it will make you laugh at least once (or twice).
My current projects are many and scary. There’s a play-writing competition for the York Mystery Plays to create a modern re-telling. Something to think about, get my theatre head back on. Then I want to really work on Letter To The Man (From The Boy) and make sure it’s watertight. And finally, I want to work on a new long piece, 20-30 mins, based on love because to be honest that’s a subject I’ve not touched in my 4.5 years performing. Now’s the time.
At the moment I’m having a sort of evaluation of what I can offer. Yes I can do open mics, sets of poems and slots, but I want to write more ‘shows’ and packages that can appear to the majority of people. So expect The Unkettleables poem coming very soon but after than a few more poems about growing up, love and friendship for any audience of any age at any event.
Bring on 2012!
Also a handful of upcoming gigs but not overly booked out so please get in touch to recommend any poetry nights or events etc. I should check out!
Cheers all, thanks for visiting my blog, all the best J