Tuesday, February 21, 2006



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.



Blogger Jean said...

Thank you for the beauty. I was scouring the web yesterday for photos of mimosa, having written about it, but found nothing that came close to my memories. Yours do.

4:05 PM  
Blogger granny p said...

Welcome home Ruth. Sounds like you finally made it. As to directors - odd how some can use violence etc to point up beauty - and some try to destroy it. I guess it's a question of letting everything stop still so that the music takes over. It requires humility that does. Difficult for a director. GV could do it mostly. Why he's so good. y

11:59 AM  
Blogger Becca said...

I am so sorry that you had such an awful experience with this last director. I can not fathom a "deeply committed Christian" opposed to beauty, or the grace of the human spirit, or addicted to violence. From my point of view, none of these is compatible with sincere faith. I just wish you and your fellow musicians had been able to carry the day ... and I hope the mimosa and home will help you recover from such an unpleasant experience!

3:47 PM  

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