May 9th, 2012

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Written on the Heart, RSC, Duchess Theatre - Closing 19 May

Stephen Boxer as William Tyndale (left) and Oliver Ford Davies as Lancelot Andrewes (right).
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Cut and pasted from the RSC website:

The Royal Shakespeare Company celebrates the 400th anniversary of the making of the King James Bible with a new play by acclaimed playwright David Edgar.

Written on the Heart marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, one of the most widely published texts in the English language.

Across an 80 year divide, two men (William Tyndale and Lancelot Andrewes) translate the word of God into the English tongue. For one, it means death at the stake. For the other, it could mean an archbishop's mitre.

After almost a century of unrest, the King James Bible was intended to end the violent upheavals of the English reformation. But deep-seated conflicts force a leading translator to confront the betrayal of his youthful religious ideals, for the sake of social peace.

More information on the production can be found here:

It was announced today that Written on the Heart is closing early on 19 May so if you want to catch this you need to go and see it NOW!

Raks's Reaction

I am disappointed that the RSC has decided to close this early. This production is a hard sell - it is about the translation of the King James Bible and everything that went with it. But the RSC had the courage and the faith to bring the production to London, and I just wish that they had kept the faith and let the production run for the time it was originally intended to. It is an intelligent and intellectual piece on religion; it is the kind of theatre that I want to see in London in the West End (I don't just want musicals, much as I love them), and it is a real shame that it has not found its audience. If you do want the RSC in London (not just Matilda!) please come and support the production in the fortnight that it has left to run. Follow the link to book tickets:

I want the RSC back in London. I want them to have a permanent base here and I want them to transfer the majority of their Stratford repertoire down to London. They used to do this not so long ago, they had the Barbican, they had a committed and loyal following who wanted to see their work, and they were able to transfer most of their Stratford productions to London, and sell enough tickets to make it financially viable. An incredibly short-sighted decision saw them shut up shop in London. I want them back!

I don't want to comment on the production as a piece of theatre; what I want to say is that seeing the piece challenged my thinking on religion and Christianity, and made me treasure what I previously took completely for granted - the Bible in English.

Raks's Reaction to the Play

This is not a theatre review; it is a heartfelt and personal reaction to the play. I saw it on Friday 30 December in Stratford and Tuesday 8 May in London.

This play was the story of how the Bible was translated into English, my mother tongue. I have taken the fact that I can read the Bible in English for granted. But, having seen this piece, I now realise that the Bible in English was a long time coming - people were denied access to the Bible in their mother tongue for many centuries. I realise how many people died for it (Tyndale, one of the first translators of the Bible into English, and on whose translation the King James Bible is firmly based, was burnt for heresy; his crime being that he wanted to translate the Bible into English so that everyman could have access to it). I realise how every single word and nuance was considered, debated, contested and fought over. What this made me think was that we all need to be much more appreciative of the things that we have in today's modern world that were not available to our ancestors. The Bible in English did not fall from the sky. People fought for and died so that we could have it. I am ashamed to say I had never really thought about this until I saw this piece.

I saw it again for the second and final time today (Tuesday 8 May). had a Q&A with the Director (Greg Doran), the playwright (David Edgar) and the cast immediately after the production. The Q&A, both the quality of the questions and the quality of the answers, was superb. Again, the debate and discussion was intellectual and high-brow. That is actually what I want. It really deepened my knowledge and understanding of the piece. I felt privileged and very lucky to be present for it. Definitely got my money's worth! Thank you RSC thank you!

My own personal feeling is that it is criminal that this is closing early. Ultimately, London theatre audiences will get the theatre that they deserve and the theatre that they are prepared to shell out for. I really pray that what we don't get is a West End which only has room for musicals.
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Othello, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Globe to Globe, Shakespeare's Globe

I just wanted to share some photos of the recent production of Othello by Chicago Shakespeare Theater that premiered as part of the Globe to Globe Season and that I absolutely loved. The photos all come courtesy of

Q Brothers, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Richard Jordan Productions
A fresh urban take on Shakespeare's tragedy spun out, smashed up and lyrically rewritten over original beats. The Q Brothers are America's leading re-interpreters of Shakespeare through hip hop. The Chicago Shakespeare Theater is dedicated to creating and producing classic productions that unlock Shakespeare's work for audiences from all walks of life.

Cassio (left) and Iago (right)

Cassio and the crew in full flight

Cassio and the crew in full flight

Men playing women! (just put on a wig and a dress!)

My feature on the production can be found here:
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Marriage Guidance

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Marriage Guidance: The debate on same sex marriage has so far been dominated by its opponents by Nelson Jones.

This is an excellent feature article in the New Statesman. Highly recommended. Read it!
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Out4Marriage video campaign launched

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Cut and pasted from an email from the Peter Tatchell Foundation:

Out4Marriage video campaign launched
Support full equality, not just gay equality
Straight civil partnerships & religious same-sex marriages too

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell is backing the new campaign and has made a supportive YouTube video, which can be viewed here:

Members of the public are encouraged to make and upload their own videos to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, to create a social media mass campaign for marriage equality.

Find out more about the campaign:

"In a democratic society, everyone should be equal before the law. The Equal Love campaign urges that civil marriages and civil partnerships should be open to gay and heterosexual couples, without any discrimination based on sexual orientation," said Mr Tatchell.

The Equal Love campaign is seeking to overturn both the ban on same-sex civil marriages and the ban on opposite-sex civil partnerships. It seeks full marriage and partnership equality, as well as the right of clergy to conduct religious same-sex marriages if they wish to do so.

Further information:

Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation
0207 403 1790

Raks's Says

This video came in today and quite frankly it is a Godsend. In my humble opinion, it makes the argument for equal marriage in a highly articulate and intelligent way and blows the other arguments out of the water.

PLEASE, if you believe in free speech and democratic debate, watch the video and THEN make up your mind on this issue.

As Peter makes clear, this issue is about equality for all. The principle is equality and free and equal choices for everyone. In a democratic society we should all be equal before the law.

The argument is made and I would argue irrefutable.