I am recovering from the Lyon project with the help of armfuls of mimosa.
On reflection I see that my exhaustion, and that of my musical colleagues, came largely from spending a month trying to create something beautiful and having it consistently destroyed. The theatre director we have been working with seemed compelled, every time there was a moment of acute tenderness, to overlay it with something of violence: An air of reconciliation obliterated by the deafening fall of a plank; a raw but affectionate adieu smeared with the shocking image of a staring figure with a mouthful of mud (though J did say it just looked like potting compost and was not shocking at all); a proclamation of fragile love torn apart with shrieking and a mother’s lament illustrated with a symbolic abortion. Meanwhile any tenderness that sprung up between the players was ripped to shreds.
It had been promised that we – the musicians - would be involved in every aspect of this exciting production. In the end we were simply passionate guardians of any remaining beauty.
A ‘deeply committed Christian’, this director was a man who was repelled by beauty and the human spirit and who was playing at hubris.
What kind of art is that? And what kind of a Christian?
Surely art is not beautiful because it is a sugary thing but rather because it is an alchemical container for the whole of human experience, helping us to find resolution and meaning. If it simply laid out the horrors of the world for us to see, what would be the point?
The mimosa from the Côte d’Azur was late to the market this year by three weeks. As I gazed at the innocent sun-fluff and inhaled the scent, I was grateful it waited for me to come back and hold its unadulterated beauty in my arms.