On March 9, I set off with some trepidation and a fair amount of excitement to the USA where I have only ever spent 5 days in all my 60 years – (and those five days were in New York) – travelling there now in order to present the compelling and inspiring stories of Britain’s First World War conscientious objectors – ‘THIS EVIL THING’ – to a number of sympathetic religious institutions, colleges and a few Quaker Meeting Houses too.
This all came about thanks to a chance meeting with an American, who saw the piece when I first presented it in Edinburgh in 2016 – and who said to me, ‘You should bring this to the States.’ To which I replied, ‘I’d love to. But how?’ ‘Let me have a think,’ he said.
March 2nd 2018
Saint Augustine’s church, Haringey, is not easy to find – up a small side street off the ever-busy Green Lanes. Along with the house next door, it is home to the London Catholic Worker, who offer it as a house of hospitality alongside their many other charitable activities – especially their work with destitute and homeless refugees.
Feb. 20th 2018
Friday 16th February – three performances completed of my mini-tour of North Yorkshire, and three still to come.
It’s a sunny Friday morning and tonight, myself, Nobby and Colin will be in Newton-le-Willows – but first, I have time for a morning stroll out of Richmond. Nobby recommends the two-mile walk to Easby Abbey to see the beautiful ruins in a lovely setting.
‘And don’t fail to pop into St. Agatha’s, the small church next to the Abbey,’ Nobby urges me. ‘It doesn’t look much but you won’t regret it,’ he adds enigmatically.
Feb. 13th 2018
Snow. Proper snow. North Yorkshire snow. Falling thick and fast and settling.
Not like our weedy London stuff, which when it can muster the strength to appear, invariably swiftly turns to sleet and slush.
Feb 10th, 2018
‘You’re a disgrace to humanity!’
That’s what the chaplain at Winchester Prison said to Bert Brocklesby, conscientious objector and protagonist of my play ‘This Evil Thing’, a hundred years ago. Another CO was told by a different chaplain, ‘Christ would have spat in your face!’
Just to let you know that I’ve just fixed some new tour dates for February; firstly at Reading University and then in North Yorkshire. More details are here.
20th December 2017
In 1916, the world-famous philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell was ousted from his lectureship at Trinity College, Cambridge, because of his work for the conscientious objectors – more specifically, because of the scandal of his arrest for having written an article about one CO in particular (the much-abused Ernest Everett).
That summer, the government also denied Russell a US passport, preventing him from lecturing at Harvard, and banned him from speaking in certain parts of the UK – especially near coastal areas – ‘For fear I might signal to enemy submarines,’ as he sourly commented.
17th December 2017
Five days off…to launder my costume, hang out my costume, iron my costume … to eat, sleep and catch up on the piles of admin … to be taken to the opera as a surprise … then it’s back on the road up north on November 30th for three full-on days of touring.
10th December 2017
Week 8, and it’s Tuesday 14th November when I rock up to Northampton’s Royal Theatre, to play my one and only ‘main stage’ of the tour – a beautiful 500-seat Victorian theatre that I’ve performed in previously in big cast shows – but in a solo play? Just me and my nine crates? Plus two hessian sacks?