I’ve just spent a fantastic day in Norwich at a symposium on the palimpsest, organised as part of Adam Pugh’s exciting Invisible Fabrick project. It was one of those days that refreshes the intellectual soul – not an academic conference but a symposium attended by academics, art practitioners, curators and the public. A diverse mix of interested and interesting minds that always makes for stimulating discussion and debate. I had the pleasure of revisiting my early work on palimpsests and the palimpsest, and was also prompted by great questions to think about how that textual metaphor might be extended, or possibly extenuated, by our modern day digitial hyperreal world. The highlight of the day was what I’m already thinking of as Patrick Coyle‘s ’round table with a difference’! Rather than the usual academic way of ending the day, with a panel reflecting on the ideas that have been raised, Patrick took us on a creative ‘tourk’ (talk and walk) from the symposium venue to the site of the evening’s book launch, layering into his own creative work reflections on the day’s proceedings. Entertaining, ingenious and utterly original. I’ll definitely be booking him to wrap up proceedings at the next conference I organise!
To round off my dramatic week I went along to BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking (what was Night Waves) to chat with Philip Dodd and drama critic Susannah Clapp about science fiction theatre. Is it on the rise, and if so, why? Does theatre need to define itself against SF cinema and the special effects it is now capable of? Or does it need to stretch and develop itself technically by rising to the challenge of staging SF narratives in and for the 21st century? Have a listen to our thoughts here.
This week I’ve come over all dramatic, having caught the current buzz around SF theatre. This afternoon I popped down to London to watch the new Headlong production of George Orwell’s 1984 which has just begun its West End run. I have to say I found it a little disappointing. The opening was almost embarrassingly patronising as it gathered together a reading group to ‘teach’ the audience how to understand the novel. But once they got past that, it steadily improved and Mark Arends was subtly convincing in his portrayal of a psychologically damaged, disoriented, if not downright unhinged, Winston. On the train ride home I finished off a new Sci-Fi-London blog on SF theatre, which will appear here shortly. And if I could have been in two places at once, I’d also have sent my avatar over to LA to catch Sci Fest, the first science fiction theatre festival (poster above, and more on them in the blog ) which looks nothing less than tremendous. All in all, a satisfyingly science fictionaly theatrical day!