The great Snoo Wilson would write plays
With the fecundity of newspaper; sweet daily sheaths
Of invention, with convention dispensed by each word.
Fire, and fun, with ideas spun through dimensions,
As his work featured Magicians and daemons,
Wheelbarrowed Christs and pigged earth. I know
He would be writing hard now, keen to entertain
And enlighten, in great screeds of humour,
His Sci-Fi Soap Arias, that often bristled and burned
The lazy mind as it read them; dear Snoo’s firecrackers
Were a signal flare for word stars. Tragically, Snoo’s
Not here. And neither of course is Harold, or, Heathcote,
Or, for that matter, Ken Campbell; those vital voices
Are still what we need to scorch through. Thank God
For Caryl Churchill. We also have Howard Barker
And Bond but such Genius sits neglected; in a blanded
Age of beige pages, those left to yellow still contain
The full truth.You could bite down on their books.
Edward Bond’s are a banquet. As it is with each writer
Who chose to make the living theatre their meat.
The men and women now dead or living a deathlike
Retirement from the spotlight, but who still continue
To make life’s dialogue seem complete. With all theatres
Closed, this second wave of new plays forms an underground
River. On the ripple and run of the water you will hear
Imagined lines there, beneath. An offstage, onstage
In which those who write become swimmers, while those
Who’d perform them sit drowning, or stand alone,
On some heath, looking down on the world that cannot
Be represented. Once you take the art away,
There’s no mirror to read, or, recognise our true
Face. The full voice falls dumb, as Dancers grow fat
In their lounges. Does a blie lose beauty if no-one
In the house sees its grace? Cameron Mackintosh
Cancels all, as each stage turns to ashtray,
Gathering dust, as have Churches, making Musuems,
Too, of the now, in which archived art, or lives in art
Are exhibits seen on Zoom by their colleagues, or through
An imminent moroseness of crowds. Actors, acrobats,
Stage crews, technicians, front of house, cleaners,
Directors, all can walk now to work, only to find
Each place closed, as if you could amputate pure expression,
But then of course in our bubble, perhaps we can cleanse
Our hair shirt. And start a new theatre outside for just
A passing handful of people. Let us now write plays
As embraces and choreograph each kept kiss.
Let us make shadow play from the former light
Of lost giants. Let us echo Paul Scofield, or Margo
Fonteyn, or Jay-Z. Or whoever you like. For now,
The collective crowd can’t be captured. So, find new
Means and fresh charges that try to ensure Art
Feels free. It is possible. Change. How can we now
Be dramatic? By finding the play again. Hell has humour.
Why else would it burn? Hearts should bleed. But then,
Hearts must heal. Let us write monologues for one
Audience member. Duologues for two watching,
And then on and on. I think of Snoo now at his start
In the Portable Theatre van with David Hare and Howard
Brenton. With Nick and Tony Bicat writing music,
They made the act of making plays its own song.
Words on the wind. Notes plucked from air.
Parks and places. While we wait for ours, these
Fresh theatres are somewhere for each artistic soul
To belong. Meanwhile, we zoom in, while keeping
One eye to the window. It is possibly reflecting
A future. I hear it announced. How dramatic.
Life’s a sunk Circus, but here, at last, it is rising.
Dream curtains shudder, and I hear in my head,
The ghost gong.
David Erdos June 19th 2020