I had been hard at work on my new project, a play about Hiroshima – which was due to be performed by myself and UK-based Japanese actress You-Ri Yamanaka, and all set to be directed by Jatinder Verma, and I’d spent a good chunk of time trying to secure a venue for the play at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, as well as a tour of the play in the autumn to many parts of the UK…when along came a certain virus…
Like everybody, I was knocked for six when lockdown was introduced. The previous week, I had been sent reeling by the closure of the theatres and all other live performance venues; festivals began to be cancelled one by one and soon it was the turn of Edinburgh to suffer this fate.
Just over 100 years ago, British conscientious objectors were locked down in this country against their will because of the ‘virus’ it was feared they were spreading- the virus of pacifism and anti-militarism.
Now as we are all locked down against our will for several weeks, I have made a home movie version of my solo stage play THIS EVIL THING, (which I have now performed over 100 times in the UK and in the USA) which portrays the compelling and inspiring story of Britain’s WW1 conscientious objectors.
Using just my i-phone and its excellent ‘movie’ features and using every available corner of my two-bedroom flat in SW London, I have recreated my performance of all 52 roles (some with only 1 line, granted) as well as performing all the roles within a film crew! (Including doing my own catering…)
This lockdown offering is in 6 x 15 minute ‘chapters’ – it premiered on Friday May 15th, 2020, International Conscientious Objectors’Day and will remain online until further notice at the link below…please tell your friends! Thank you!
‘Magnificent storytelling’ (Amnesty International judges at Edinburgh 2016)
Every year on May 15th we remember those who have established and are maintaining the right to refuse to kill, both in the past and today. Hundreds of people across the world are imprisoned or forced to flee their home countries for refusing to join the armed forces. On May 15th we stand in solidarity with them, as well as celebrating the memory of all those throughout history who have resisted conscription.
This year on May 15th there will be several events, open to anyone in the UK or abroad. Usually ceremonies are held around the UK, but this year due to the Coronavirus outbreak the ceremonies will happen online.
NATIONAL CEREMONY – FRIDAY MAY 15TH – 12 MIDDAY
Join us for a minute’s silence, songs and speeches. I will read testimonies from Second World War conscientious objectors. Niat Chefena Hailemariam from Network of Eritrean Women will speak about military service in Eritrea, which is compulsory for both men and women.
Here’s my one minute trailer for this event…
Visit this page https://www.ppu.org.uk/international-conscientious-objectors-day
for updates and how to join closer to the time…
or go to http://www.co-day.org
This is what an American President (Truman) said when he got the news that the mission to drop the first atom bomb had been accomplished: ‘This is the greatest thing in history.’
The greatest catastrophe, I’d say – and I will do whatever I can, however small my ‘drop in the ocean’ may be, to ensure it doesn’t happen again. There are now less than 48 hours to go till our crowdfunding appeal closes…so if you know of anyone who is planning on chipping in, please give them a nudge (before Thursday March 5th 2pm) thank you!
So it’s March 2nd…and with just 3 days to go for our crowdfunding appeal, for my new play about Hiroshima, called THE MISTAKE, if you can think of anyone who might like to chip in, then do please give them a nudge…thank you!!
Here is a photo of Leo Szilard, brilliant Hungarian scientist, who features in the play, sitting with his mentor and lifelong friend, Albert Einstein – who makes a cameo appearance in the play… (photo courtesy of Critical Past)
…for our Crowdfunding appeal, for my new play about Hiroshima, called THE MISTAKE, and we’re getting there, but there’s still a way to go before reaching our target…
If you are able to spread the word at all, in this final week, myself, You-Ri Yamanaka my co-performer, and Jatinder Verma our director, would be hugely grateful!
If you’ve already chipped in, THANK YOU!!
But if you haven’t already chipped in and are thinking of doing so, we very much hope you will be able to follow that through…within these seven days.
Here’s the link to our page with more information, photos and a video.
The play focuses on the lesser-known stories of three people connected with the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945.
Below is a photo of what the city looked like after that metaphorical ‘button’ had been pressed in 1945.
‘Pressing the button’ now would be unimaginably more devastating…
Thanking you so much for your support with this project.
Well…found myself shouting at the radio the other day…I was aghast when I heard it reported that Labour Leader hopeful Rebecca Long-Bailey said she’d be ‘willing to press the button’ – (as did Liberal Democrat hopeful Jo Swinson in the run up to December’s General Election.).
The levels of ignorance amongst national and international leaders as to what actually happened on the ground in Hiroshima is staggering… (photo courtesy of Illustrated London News)
…and that was a ‘small’ bomb compared to what is stockpiled in nuclear arsenals today.
So, I’m busy trying to finalise plans for taking my new play about Hiroshima to Edinburgh and then on tour…but because hoped-for funding has fallen through, guess what? – I am going to try and Crowdfund some of the costs involved. If you felt able to help in however small a way by donating to the appeal in the next four weeks, that would be tremendous. (Even a fiver is fab!) I do feel this is such important material to share in this, the 75th year since the dropping of the two atomic bombs – and am concerned that already in some quarters (certain venues, for example), I am meeting subtle resistance to the subject matter. But the good news is that already half a dozen schools are keen to have us come visit, perform and discuss the issues with their students. Do have a look at the Crowdfunder page first, when you click on the link below…and of course, feel free to share if you feel so inclined. (Apologies to those who have already donated and to those who know about this already.) And finally, a BIG thank you for anything you feel able to contribute…
Amidst the angst and gloom of the events of the last few weeks (and longer?) it feels good to be working on my new play which will be opening this summer – this time it’s not a solo…but is for TWO people. One British (yours truly), and one Japanese.
(Both photos by SIMON RICHARDSON)
The play concerns the events leading up to the dropping of the first atomic bomb in 1945 (so it’s the 75th anniversary this year, this August, in fact ) – and the devastating consequences of that event.
Huge heartfelt thanks to all of you who were able to get along to a performance of THIS EVIL THING at the magical space of Tara Theatre, SW London, on November 7,8 or 9th – all three nights were packed; Cyril Pearce, expert on WW1 COs, gave a great talk before Saturday’s show and helped me with the Q and A afterwards (I have so little voice left at the end!); the audiences were so engaged and attentive, it was a joy to perform the play yet again… feels like part of my DNA now!