Monday 1 December 2008

Good things

In the current TLS Karl Miller chooses Jennie’s 24 for 3 as one of his Books of the Year (‘a flying start’). In Saturday’s Guardian Nicholas Lezard wrote about Hofmann’s Lichtenberg & The Little Flower Girl (‘wonder and innocence, attributes which are necessary if one is going to describe, as this novel does, the romance between a 35-year-old man and a 13-year-old girl’).

CBe is largely a one-man band, and often I have the feeling there’s no one else in the room. In contrast, I spent this past weekend in Buxton among 70 people from the National Theatre put up in an eerie, dimly lit palatial hotel in swirling mist, plus around 200 school and youth directors and a busload of actors from the National Youth Theatre. Workshops, talk, more alcohol than my ration for the whole of December and into the new year (and the coincidence of an Abba tribute night being held at the hotel on the Saturday night). Theatre is collaborative, very different from solitary fiction/poetry writing, and on this scale it was a culture shock. By the end of March twelve brand new plays will have been staged in many productions involving several thousand teenagers (oh all right, young people). All productions will be seen at regional theatres; one production of each play will show at the South Bank in the summer. This is the NT New Connections programme; it’s been running for over ten years, it seems to receive criminally little attention, and it’s absolutely heroic.

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