Theatre is international and transgressive. With its roots in circus, Commedia dell’arte and carnival, it is vulgar and challenging.
What was my first theatre? Punch and Judy fighting in a booth on a Lancashire beach? A small dance band where I sang Que Sera, Sera as a precocious ten-year-old? Dancing in the Blackpool Summer Dance Festival? Daring to play Cleopatra at 17 with the local boys’ school?
Was it watching May Britt and Sammy Davis Jr in Blue Angel with my Romanian grandparents in a Manchester cinema? (That was the nearest they could get to the European theatre they had lost.)
Was it during my drama school training, when we toured Twelfth Night to an international theatre festival? I still see the other students and my teenage self, sitting in a sports stadium in Sofia as the Czechs theatrically demonstrated against the Russian invasion…
This past year there has been no theatre. But the impulse to write drama is unstoppable. I have written two new plays and tidied up older ones. I have Zoomed and supported others, who did not know they could, to make theatre from their own lives, as part of our Giving Voice project. I am currently plotting new ways to make performance outside as we move away from the plague.
No virus can stop drama. It is the modus operandi of our politicians and our semi-feudal monarchy. We crave theatre, the show, the performance, the play. Only in English is it ‘the play’. In French, it is une pièce de théâtre; in German, ein Theaterstück: a theatre piece. But in the English language we play, and when the virus is dead, we shall play as we have never played before.
Julia Pascal, Artistic Director of Pascal Theatre Company