ANGER (For Lucy Ellinson and Chris Thorpe)
[This is a post in several parts, the text of a talk I gave in Nottingham for World Event Young Artists. Scroll down to get to the very beginning]
It starts with being angry
This is always a good place to start
And I want to offer you two different minutes of anger
For the first of these minute
We are in the front room
Of a house in
A quiet corner of Edinburgh
There is thick carpet
And Table lamps
But there are also other things
That you wouldn’t normally expect to find there
There are large speakers
And guitar amps
And a music stand
And we are more people than have ever probably squeezed into this living room before
People on the floor
And the sofas
And people standing squeezed into the kitchen area to one side
And everyone is watching
As three people
Make an incredible amount of noise
We are watching the wonderful performer
And she has just told us
about a writer
called Paul Reekie
And the two letters he received
One from the Department of Work and Pensons
Telling him his incapacity benefit had been cut
And one from
Which informed him is housing benefit had also been cut
And Lucy told us how
Paul had laid this two letters out carefully on his desk
And then he had taken his own life
And she told us
One minute of silence is not enough
Sometimes you need one minute of noise
And that is what we are now listening to
And it sounds like a howl of unreason
It sounds like a fox with its foot torn off
It passes through us
And you can feel the sound
Like the physical thing that it is
I can feel my body
Moving with Lucy’s anger
And the room is crowded
And I realise the important difference
I am angry
And we are angry
And I realise that theatre is the perfect place
I am angry
Into we are angry
And whilst I am angry is always a good beginning
We are angry is where things get really interesting.
The second minute is by the writer Chris Thorpe
Who happened to be playing lead guitar
In the previous minute
This is a minute of words that he wrote for a project called
One Minute Manifestos
That Lucy recently put together for Battersea Arts Centre
Chris kindly allowed me to read this out today
I don’t sound as good as he does
But I’ll give it my best shot
Don’t waste your minutes in reason.
This is a minute.
Nobody was ever persuaded of anything in a minute.
Use the hours for reasoned argument.
Use the minutes for anger.
It’s OK for your response to be.
Fuck that shit.
Just fuck it.
Because some things are wrong.
So let the luxury of a minute mean that you’re an absolutist.
Let the luxury of an hour mean the attempt to understand. The construction of a reasoned argument.
Let the luxury of a day, a week, a month be the craft of your art or your point of view, or sometimes,wonderfully, a synthesis of the two.
But the luxury of a minute is:
This is wrong.
This is the wrong path.
For suggesting idealism is adolescent.
For treating the market like a human being.
For encouraging resentment of the unlucky.
For equating anger with shame and naivety.
For smiling indulgently when you’re told you’re hated.
For giving a man the opportunity to smear shit into the nation’s culture like he smeared shit into its TV.
For making no sacrifices while preaching pointless sacrifice.
For not asking ‘how can we make everyone healthy’, but ‘why should we’?
And fuck you.
I’ll take this minute for myself, thanks.
And I’ll offer you no solutions. Solutions are for hours and days and weeks and months. And those will come.
But this is a minute.
So I want to ask you.
Are you angry?
And if you are angry
What are you angry about?
If you aren’t angry
Well, why not?
How do you make an audience not hear anger but feel it?
How do you transform
I am angry
Into we are angry,
I want to invite you to be brave enough to be angry about something in public
Be angry without apology and without elegance
Be angry even if it makes you red and stupid
If it makes you vulnerable and embarrassed.
Make something angry
Make it one minute long
Take one minute and make it yours
This is your time to be angry.