Category Archives: theatre

Roots and all

Now that I live in Liverpool – and doesn’t that have a nice ring to it? – life is taking some unexpected, and not unpleasant turns.

After years of wandering around, rent-free, on the house-sitting turntable, I’ve finally settled into a wee flat, just off the absolute centre of the city, two floors up with two huge windows, so plenty of light.

It has been such fun, furnishing it, sticking photos up, putting the books out where I can see them, buying house plants and – wonder of wonders – baking!  I’ve had a couple of ‘dinner parties’, but I don’t know that many people yet, so nothing grand.

Workwise, it’s been a bit crazy. The first 3 months I was commuting between Liverpool, Cardiff and Manchester. That was enough to prove to myself that I’m not as young as I used to be…

Just now, I’m in Manchester one day a week, working with a beautiful bunch of 2nd year acting students. Fun is being had. Voices grow, hearts and minds take great leaps of faith, and creativity expands all of our horizons.

So far, I’ve had little performing work, but one short film (a public info video for Liverpool City Council Health Dept) was fun to shoot.  On the other hand, I found a little folk club just a couple of block from where I stay, and I trot down there with my trusty ukulele every now and then to do a floor spot. This week, I was invited to perform a full set as “featured guest artist”, so I dug the guitar out of its oh too solid case and actually attempted to accompany myself on it. Oh boy. Practise, practise, practise…

As well as some of my own songs (June’s really), I revived a couple of Scots ballads from my days as a folk singer in the dim dark past, including Yarrow Braes. Roderick dutifully turned up to support me in the audience, and he kindly filmed it, so here it is.

Now I’m working on the third part of the June Bloom trilogy.  It will be called “June Bloom Rising” and the rest is a mystery, although I hope to be able to preview it at this year’s Liverpool Festival Fringe, in June.  We shall see!

A Walk Through My Mind

Recently, I started taking long walks again. Coming out of the slough of despond can have that effect, and vice versa. And as I walked, I began to think. As as I thought, it seemed like a good idea to share some of my thoughts.

So last week, setting off from Crewe Toll towards Princes Street, in Edinburgh, I thought I would share what was on my mind as I was walking.. Siri obligingly opened my voice memo app, and the result is here for you to listen to. There is traffic, and breathlessness involved, so it’s all very ‘in the moment’ as we say in the biz.

There’s talk about theatre, and the weather, and I do apologise for the poor quality of the recording. Clearly this is going to be a steep learning curve.

As I mention in the recording, at the top of Dean’s Bridge, a rather interesting building can be seen. I still haven’t been able to ascertain if it’s a private house or not. Here it is.
           

Look Back to Move Ahead

I know you shouldn’t laugh at your own jokes, but this – my first ever Philosophy Essay, submitted on 27th April, 1999 – still cracks me up.  The assignment was to respond to The Lier’s Paradox by arguing for one of four possibilities (it’s true, it’s false, it’s neither true nor false, it’s both true and false)

 

To The Editor

Aegean Times

Piraeus

Sir

With regard to the headline of your recent article (The Problem of the Lying Cretan) I wish to make it clear to your readers that I take great exception to the assertion that the esteemed actor Epimenides (of Crete) is a liar.

When he made the statement “I am (now) lying” Epimenides was not lying.  He was expressing himself with poetic licence.  This rhetorical device has been used since the days of Aeschylus to great effect in poetry and drama.  Epimenides, comsummate artist as he is, instinctively incorporates it into his improvisation.

According to your literal interpretation, when Epimenides said “I am (now) lying” he was stating a fact, and a fact is by definition true, in which case he was lying.  By this reasoning it is also possible to say that if he was telling the truth, then the statement was false, that is, it could not have been a fact.

If Epimenides spoke the truth, and was lying as you say, then his statement must be both true AND false. However, it is impossible to speak truthfully and tell a lie at the same time (a lie being an intentionally false statement and the opposite to telling the truth).  Therefore, his statement could not be both true and false.

This being the case, the statement must be neither true nor false.  But this is equally impossible for the same reason, that one cannot lie and speak truthfully at the same time.  So if Epimenides was stating a fact, we are left with the ridiculous paradox that his statement was both true and false, or neither true nor false.

When Shakespeare’s Hamlet utters the words “I am dead, Horatio” (Hamlet, Act V sc ii), he is not actually dead.  If he were he would be unable to speak at all. Yet he is speaking sincerely, without intent to deceive.  It would appear that the statement: “I am dead, Horatio” is not literally true, it is not a ‘fact’, but when spoken truthfully in the circumstances of his status and condition, states a higher Truth – the Truth, in fact, that his aspirations, intentions, and princely potential are finished, along with his life.  The words epitomise the desolation of the moment at the climax of the play. As the distinguished Scots theatre director Tom Fleming stated with reference to a similar line in Macbeth (Boy: “He has killed me, Mother”, Act IV Sc ii), it is not a lie.  It is poetic licence.

Of course, Hamlet is a fictitious character, played by an actor who has not be poisoned and stabbed.  A fictitious character cannot be really dead, since he was never really alive.  The actor who portrays him is pretending, creating an illusion of a character who never existed anyway.  Therefore when he makes the statement, “I am dead, Horatio” it is not, in truth, a matter of fact.

Yet if Hamlet’s words could not, given the same or similar circumstances, be spoken by any one of us, then Shakespeare has failed as a dramatist.  Had he failed we would not still be watching productionas of his plays, especially Hamlet.  He succeeds because his characters do speak for us, expressing our deepest desires and sorrows, only with greater effect. Shakeaspeare’s skill lies in the way he uses langfuage, and one of the devices he uses is poetic licence – the freedom allowed to writers in regard to grammatical construction, and to the use of facts, “especially for effect” (Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary, 3rd ed. [1997] p. 1035).

When Epimenides said “I am (now) lying”, like Hamlet he was referring to a greater truth than the literal meaning of the words.  He was engaged in the telling of a tall tale which grew taller by the minute, until he reached the point where his remark “I am (now) lying” was the epitome of exaggeration.  Just as Hamlet’s use of the present tense (I am) heightens our awareness of the wasteful tragedy of his death, so Epimenides’s “I am” heightens our awareness of the gargantuan nature of his fabrications, and of our complicity in them.  Hamlet’s “dead” overwhelms us with the inevitability of loss. Epimenides’ “lying” generates universes of make-believe.  “I am dead” in Hamlet’s mouth makes us aware of our own mortality in a moment of catharsis.  “I am lying” slipping from Epimenides’ tongue awakens us to the vitality of our own imagination and playfulness.

Thus Epimenides was not lying.  He was speaking truthfully, through the device of poetic licence, expressing in the fewest possible words not so much a simple daxt as the great truth of humanity’s endless capacity for invention.

I remain

Yours faithfully

Apallina of Athens

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This was the tutor’s response:

Excellent work, Flloyd.  An immensely entertaining (and highly original) essay, that incorporates argument alive precision and clarity within its imaginative format. Well done!”