This latest short film includes a rare audio excerpt from my play Pillar Talk and a reflection on the recent installation in Trafalgar Square of the replica of Palmyra’s triumphal arch.

In the revised radio version of Pillar Talk, I included a letter to Simeon Stylites from a Roman actor. It too has something to say about Hope. Here is a transcription.

Roman actor
Roman tragic actor contemplating his mask

Though I feel I have had an expedition to the theatre. Yesterday I got a letter from our actor.

(Reading from the letter) ‘I had an unexpected success with my white horse – though it took some time to devise the right vehicle for it. I began to wonder if there was another creature worthy of dramatization. Pandora (she’s not the creature), saving your presence she’s the first woman created by the Gods, she’s my most demanding part yet; the easiest bit, saving your presence again, is suggesting feminine allure beneath layers of flowing muslin, I have a hard apprenticeship to thank for that. With a good percussionist, and I have the best, one can make something of the will-she -won’t-she-NO DON’T suspense of the build-up to the opening of the box. Before they actually ‘see’ anything, it’s a question of getting the audience to swallow the convention, without realizing that it is a convention, that I not only see the ills of the world before they do but then with a handful of masks and some exhaustive, and exhausting, mime and dance – become them. The most horrific evils draw the loudest reactions, my depiction of monstrous pride surprised me at the premiere by drawing laughter, but there are groans too – for cruelty, but silence is the best reaction – when the drumming and the pipe and horn players stop and the audience can’t even gasp.

I thought a lot about finding Hope at the bottom of the box, thought for a moment – but only a moment – of using a live dove – stupid, who wants to be upstaged by a bird? In any case the audience know that doves can’t act. I always say that the day real life appears on the stage, the audience will recognize the blunder immediately.

Our leading flautist composed a theme good enough to prevent applause from greeting the dove’s tremulous entrance, but not loud enough to cover the occasional sound of strong men sobbing. When the storm of applause comes it is not for me, nor the dove, but for Hope: they are fanning the embers of hope in themselves, hoping to chase the worlds evils away.’

My reply congratulates him on his portrayal of Hope and wishes him further triumphs with Faith and Love.

Our Fitrovian film is still in development but will be posted soon.

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