Naturalism and Pornography


I'm giving a public lecture with the title ‘The Curtain Will Remain Up: Naturalist Theatre and the Problem of Pornography’. It's part of my book on Naturalist theatre, which is a form of theatre developed in the last third of the nineteenth century which has gone on to become one of the key influences on theatre, film and television, globally, in the twentieth century and beyond. 

Naturalism was founded on the principle that one should represent everything, without flinching, even the most sordid and disgusting aspects of contemporary life. That included such taboos as prostitution, venereal disease, incest, abortion and more. This led some critics to accuse the Naturalists (like Zola and Ibsen) of producing little more than pornography.

The Naturalists denied this, insisting that their attitude to these scandalous topics was like a surgeon dissecting a diseased cadaver. They had no interest except to diagnose the causes of these problems and, in doing so, suggest a cure.

Generally, theatre historians tend to endorse the Naturalists’ position and treat the critics as prudes and conservatives. But the situation may be more complicated than that. In this talk, I'll talk about some of the little-known stories of Naturalist theatre and its enemies, from the obsessive anti-Naturalist Ambroise Macrobe, the mischievous Professor Desjardins, Zola’s secret scenario, and the curious case of the Théâtre Réaliste.

The talk is open to the public and takes place on 7th February 2018, 7:30pm at the Swedenborg Hall, London WC1A 2TH. I am pretty sure it's going to be livestreamed HERE.

Further information HERE.  

Whoblique Strategies


There's a new book just out, published in aid of Children in Need. It's called Whoblique Strategies and it's a fusion of Bowie and Doctor Who. What in God's name does that mean? The 'Oblique Strategies' is a series of cards with slightly cryptic advice on them designed to make artists rethink their work, get them out of a hole, shake up their habituated ways of working. These gnomic little prompts - 'ASK YOUR BODY', DISCOVER THE RECIPES YOU ARE USING AND ABANDON THEM' - were co-created by Brian Eno and used by him when working with David Bowie on the Berlin trilogy.

Elton Townsend Jones is an actor and writer and also a Doctor Who fan and he assembled a group of likeminded fans to write short (200-word) pieces on every Doctor Who story from An Unearthly Child in 1963 to the mini-episode that introduced Jodie Whittaker this year. And each person was given an Oblique Strategy to shape or prompt or confuse the bit of writing.

I did the pieces for The Carnival of Monsters, The Deadly Assassin, Vincent and the Doctor and Knock Knock. They were fun to do and I'm delighted to be part of the project. You can order the book on Amazon UK and Amazon US.