Thursday, June 21, 2007
Out of these interminable collisions, we strive to create an emblemic set of cards, a box of myths that we can pertinently live our lives by. We come from a clashing point of a seed and an egg, both already seeped in their own complex origins ( a penetration of the collective by the individual) and, try and wish as we may to break clear of those two effects within us, we are incapable of ditching them, whatever the momentous consequences of that union.
The world we meet though (at its rawest) is indifferent to that conjunction and insistently inflicts upon us its own state, battered by both the rushed dramas of space, and the weird fashions of human history. We are conceived from a seed into an egg; we are born as another seed into the world's egg, and spend our lives struggling to survive, struggling to fertilise the planet with our own unique vision, to the furtherance of an intended wiser and wiser condition. Every conceived child has that innate drive; but at all stages the living impetus is a wasteful one. The human tragedy is immeasurable.
Yet not a living presence on this earth does not sense the delectable tantalising harmonies that a single breath cannot fail to invoke. The mess of existence, which is never more than a scratch above obscenity, tempts us, torments us to partake of its dreamed perfections, to draw into our tangible reach its ineffable proportions.
We are our egg, host to our seed; we come into the world in search of our most fitting house. All we do "alive" is a search towards that house, through which our innate rhythms seek outward form in an architecture of our own designing. The myths we live by tell of that journey, if the indifferent cruelties we bump into, or bump into us, allow us that ounce of breath. We are doomed to fail, however long we live: that is not the criterion. In the wasteful nature of survival, where "the fittest" is not a consideration, "luck" not "faith" has the most say. Geniuses are murdered daily in their hundreds. It is simply that being here until we are not, we are the consequences of the myths we follow, or others dictate we should follow; in turn we are all material for myths that those after us absorb into their own stories for living. On such a vast ocean, fact, which, in the scale of things, lasts no longer than its saying, is a kind of jetsam or flotsam.
Age is shaped by its myths; it creates an architecture to reflect them, and to impose its shape upon the discourse that grows out of them. Within that discourse, "facts" that suit the fashions the discourse unleashes express the mores of the day and the limits to its intellectual curiosity. Briefly the day's facts are true. Step back from them, though; see the contradictory facts before and after, that, in their own terms, were and will be also true - and a need cannot afford not to be present that absorbs them into another personal reality, and that reality too, with contradictions all around at its own level, needs its own underlying pattern. Deeper the game goes, and there is no bottom! In this maelstrom, what can possibly hold us together?
Nothing logistic; but a sense of poetry, and an awareness of pattern. In this personal outfolding, infolding, we learn that we are congenitally both separate and conjoined. We may strive to make our own architecture, but the architecture is there before us: it is the maker, controller, facilitator, limiter, encourager of all we do, however uniquely we do it. The architecture too is not sacrosanct. The pressures upon it, from its progenitors, as well as its progeny, from the historical scheme it is a part of, to the future it is aching to shape, will do for it in the end. A new architecture will follow from, or arise to deny it. Each minute living form carries that threat (or promise) upon its back.
In the twenty-first century (as the fashion is, in this part of the globe) we live at the immense moment of a change of architecture. We can pretend that we can go on living in the house that no longer is, but the habits that living has demanded have little more breathing space. The foundations have long ago shaken and admitted to being reshaped. The roots of the house of spirit have rotted, and a new spirit, slower than any cosmic snail, is dragging its own convictions into place. The abyss they may tumble into is all too real. The calamity has gone so far, maybe luck not faith (or its intellectual substitute) is what we have to wish for to see us through. Maybe the earth itself is worn out, and the Gaian optimists have put their belief in a decrepit ball of rock, no more capable of self-righting than a single one of its living components. We are being visited by a monumental Sodom and Gomorrah: destruction is both imminent and deserved. Such is the neo-con view of existence.
I am on the side of luck, and maybe a different kind of faith. The greed of the world is top-heavy, and concentrated into mightily-insatiable pockets. In the ordinary heart there is confusion, and an overload of sickness; but much more than is consciously apparent, milling around in the scree that the collapse of the old architecture is causing, fingers, thoughts, intuitions, incipient songs and other unexpected sounds, brain-waves, words of all languages, the dreams of birds, the cheekiness of fleas, sketches and longings in the blood, are reaching into and across the void, through the mists, in the hope and expectation of a fresh architecture, the first inlets and crags , maybe only the deepest valleys of a new mountain, which itself is but the start of a mighty range, the first glimpses of a soaring sierra for the next body of millennia to explore. It depends upon the quality of the spiritual assumption that is crying its way, edging its convictions into definition, towards a new architectural shape.
It is no longer that difficult to imagine. It is already there, in the symbolism of the round.
it gnaws through people from the inside
towards a sky the world's afraid to see
its nature's yet unsure (the flesh it sifts
may tell) but in its driving to be free
dynastic habits have already died
no one's safe from the sowing of its seeds
hope and chaos it blends disturbingly
asking its own victims to be its guide
into a light not one can guarantee
the pains are deep the terror barely shifts
yet (blindly aware) all of us bestride
torrents of torment (murder misery
gladly) to be there when the gravestone lifts
Sunday, June 3, 2007
The Renaissance is the last age in a chain of ages contained within the era that started with Mesopotamia. The rape of Mesopotamia is now on, being dragged apart by a destructive greed that characterises the dying stages of all mega-ideas. The end of the world seems nigh - or will be if the human race cannot break out from the chains of its own contradictions. From political malfeasance to cosmic collision, the pattern in all its holograms is doomladen. The ups and downs of a vast mountain range have exhausted the human imagination. A skull encrusted with £40,000,000's worth of unflawed diamonds glitters in a black hole of worthlessness. Capitalism and the Proscenium Stage could not be more futilely illustrated. The lit space has become the phantom of all operas.
Actors-all, trained to the fine tips of their own egos, wrapped up in excellent tin-foil, have swallowed their Adam's-apple. (Even the women who don't have one.) The back-wall, the God-wall they have trusted their reputations on, is collapsing on them from above and behind, even as they desperately try to convince those in the dark well in front that they are still to be trusted. All is not lost however, even at this second-to-midnight. There is no way back; the only way forward is to step into the circle that the dark ones will readily make. and stay there. Not a circle though that has been so dolled up that an enclave has been created that, in a world without meaning, still keeps at bay the non-actors, gawping in, still, to another rendering of the lit-space. What a travesty this has become - the buggeration of the symbol itself!
The step forward has to be ecological, environmental, self-dispossessive as well as raw, imperfect, rough, bare (these words have all been said before), empty of accoutrement and special lighting. Actors must go it alone, stripping away the hierarchy of forces that have nobbled them for a sake of a share in the kudos. Directors, enablers, may have to take their hands in the first place, but the space they are entering has no need of figures that the proscenium had to have for its own unnatural functioning. One step into the genuinely unencumbered middle and the word is freed to become poetic, spiritual, again; in touch with the de-falsification of myth, the yearning of the soul (stripped of its religiose demeanours).
If the human race survives the present immense chasm, created in part from its own pollution, but also from much vaster forces of ideas and energies no temporality has control over, then, as nothing else , the symbolic round is there, the seed for an uncontainable exploration of the inner side of the human psyche. And it will be no panacea. The unanswerable questions of today will have to find answers, and there may be a dark age or two to be grimly hung on to. But, in my view, survival depends on this slight, immeasurable shift, which will turn reasoning inside out, re-energise the blood, shake the imagination out of its present sorry games, and eventually, maybe, allow co-operative human enterprise to speak and act for the good of all peoples, equally free in their widespread disparity.
it has a sudden way of choosing itself
feet may think they have the map sussed out
with all the striding possibilities resolved
(a great deal of walking goes unconsciously)
so why of a moment does the landscape
not accord with what the map suggests
and feet begin to find a nervous turning off
from what had confidently been intended
maybe the brambles here have gone askew
or the marker tree a lightning strike has bent
this field was tares before and now is oats
the look of everything has bred a light
that never was and every trodden stone
has shifted seismically away from a past
that knew itself too well to be disturbed
nothing’s in place a second-gone once trusted
so a pathway says hello the map discovers
(not meaning to but freshly finding right)
and feet congratulate themselves to learn
from the start they had this walking in them
the pathway chosen is an ordinary one
once revealed the map has always shown it
who walks it does so with contented eyes
it’s where it goes to no one’s been before
the break-up time
such a storm raging beyond
the senses we try to track it with
mountains crumble inside our words
gravity becomes a lead weight
no time for greatness (vast conceits)
fashions unfold like stick umbrellas
in a cocktail glass (gaudy and smart)
intellect gags upon the question
for fear of stricken answers (today
can’t stretch its yester-legs
for all its striving to be new)
we metamorphose into scree
take a deep breath and think
a good bad-time to be alive in
disintegration gives carte blanche
to future hope (the fool is crass)
fools say the earth is singing
its crannies sucking in old seeds
poems (long since scorned) re-stock
them with nutrients unguessed
these goings-on are deeply painful
nature (bewildered) arse-about-face
seas can’t keep their tides in order
vague talk of reshuffling the stars
so damaging the gossip it’s best
to say nothing – have hiccups (hold
breath and count to four thousand)
imagine a seed’s inside – and listen
where we could be now – choking
in scree and willing a seed to tick
(nothing much else to hang on to
but to dice for the first green shoot)
we exist in the break-up time
annihilation’s sirens are cooing
more seeds though in the earth
than any worn god can credit
keep fingers crossed against murder
(the sprays of iniquity) even
when the mists are lethal some-
thing good goads the nerve to grow
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Professionals have to step out of the lit (raised) space - and what then? The symbols are in place; shifting them into practice is what today's life on a hair's-breadth is all about.
when energy was born it asked this question
which way dear parents do i go from here
mum fluttered indifferently (i blame exhaustion)
dad pointed with his sexual gear
so energy thrust straight ahead and fostered fear
at once its dreaded source became a bastion
too holy to be doubted - mum flipped a gear
she sought revenge on dad for his lewd suggestion
taking too long of course - things went nuclear
the scale of the damage was too much to ingest when
dad pointed with his sexual gear
she sat with her flowing skirt spread out on the earth
and tore the garment into strips from toe to waist
laying them to point around the wide world's girth
my way the truth flows best
dad laughed his head off at the pointless waste
and energy itself was seized by powerful mirth
perhaps mum's petalled skirt was not well placed
in time mishandled plenty breeds its dearth
dad's roisterous one-way-ism was disgraced
energy began to sense what mum was worth
her way the truth flows best
since the essence of wisdom
is that wealth is the source
of great suffering surely
the under-developed countries
should honour the western bankers
for forcing them to enjoy
the fruits of such dire poverty
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Monday, April 23, 2007
The Proscenium Theatre was no accident. It was unremittingly fashioned by the Renaissance idea. The Renaissance threw over the Medieval fixed idea of Heaven to the right and Hell to the left with a static world in between, re-admitted the Classical, forged a middle-class link between High Society and the Serfs and coalesced around Descartes' "I think therefore I am" - Head over body/ reason above all - and the emergence of the individual. Perspective, mechanical and technical ability, the enchantment of scene making (the growing dominance of eye over ear) and the ability to light a scene) brought about the proscenium arch and its curtain, so that changes in the performance-space could be achieved without the audience looking on: but all these changes came about in the practical world because the deepdown assumption about the relationship between the Temporal and the Eternal was shifting. God was being brought nearer betraying the mutability of his face. He was having to talk through the landscape rather than superciliously from above it.
(written in 1978)
if you want a revolution attack
symbols not systems - the simple forms
that (blithely) give the truth away
tying down millions to their terms
quietly with no one answering back
where the stage is makes the play
keeps actors (meanings) to those norms
stability requires - change tack
(remove the stage) violent storms
will sweep the old regime away
eventually there'll be no going back
once new symbols breed new germs
and strange hopes redesign the day
the world's in a bad state
leaders who cannot grasp
the immensities of living
people caught in the clasp
of ignorance (stuffed with hate)
essential substances giving
off poisons (the nuclear asp
already biting) too late
planet earth at its last gasp
maybe by chance surviving
just one crude hope as bait
for a fresh world - a loud rasp
of chaos (dreamed-sense reviving)
nothing happens most days to suggest
urgent forces are surging from the earth
changing the vital measures of our lives
most people plod through states of little worth
it's hard to point to a hope that has progressed
but once your head's been turned a vision thrives
in every aching cell - once more a birth
has found a savage time to be expressed
tawdry signs squeeze richness out of dearth
a different way of feeling thinly strives
a sick worm gnaws the fabric of the west
yet out of sickness something close to mirth
takes to flying - soars and wheels and dives
apologies - i keep on (i know) too much
about a new world breaking through the drab
when common sense demands the world is doomed
i share with most rank horror of the slab
laid out for all of us at the nuclear touch
but yet i feel the doom too much assumed
the death-wish is a kind of power-blab
to nobble the life-force (the wizard's clutch
freezing our parts) denying our right to stab
upwards from our own earths into a bloomed
array of truths no god would grant as such
gifts (long decried) of the common gab
furnished with joys old-fangled and new-broomed
Saturday, March 31, 2007
acting is not the true self's dissipation
but not its preening either - outside the role
it honours it best fights shy of reputation -
being what prometheus stole
a conscious glimpse of human desperation
rekindled as a longing to console
the waning spirit or the shattered dedication
actors are allies of the delphic hole
for good or ill they echo human expectation
The key relationship in all theatre is that of the actor to the audience; but that is qualified by several other factors, all combining to make a symbolic portrait of the flows of power, spiritual, philosophical, social and practical, that make up the conglomerate (contemporary) modus vivendi.
Scientists claim they are getting close to reaching back to the start of the Universe - but as to what was before that, what sensible guesses can be made? Eternity (The Eternal) is unknowable and inchoate, even though it must be the sum of every possible form of time.
There are three kinds of time that can fall easily into the grasp of the human mind: the aeon, the era and the age. They constitute the Temporal. The aeon is a stretch of time indifferent to all planetary life. It works to its own harmonies and rhythms and mighty upheavals. Somewhen, in some aeon, life began on earth, either from some fluke within its own composition, or by intervention from outside masses or forces, or by supernatural connivance.
Whatever, by the time the light of reason or the dark of instinct manifested into human consciousness, the fundamentals of the origin of the life we know were already beyond human exposition. The Eternal could be experienced only as a metaphor: it could not be attained. None of us could do more than gawp outwards (inwards) or backwards, creating theories, imagining, dreaming about the consequences of forever.
An era is a fragment of an aeon, an imaginable cycle within an almost unimaginable one. The sum of eras is the sum of human perception: it is that unit of time that marks the complete cycle of the movement of ideas. An era is both governed by the aeonic rhythm it is a part of, and a container of a spiritual assumption, so overriding that it colours every sub-assumption that grows from it.
An era is defined by, and stretches from, the coming into consciousness of a spiritual assumption to its wearing out and settling discarded into the folds of old time. An age is a section of an era; it modifies a spiritual assumption, carries it on into its next stage of development; but it works always within the limits of that assumption, wrestling with its ongoing implications. An age wears out when the implications of the spiritual assumption want to move beyond what the age is capable of resolving.
An era carries the whole idea; succeeding ages carry the development of the idea through its stages, as it rises from concept to climax and then falls away.
As an age is to its era, so an era is to its aeon. In beyond-human terms, the aeon too is a natural conception, concocted by the shift of vast cosmic forces being played out upon the planetary system. It too works by its own logic, causing rising and falling cycles of natural behaviour. Aeonic patterns wear out, and a fresh aeonic rhythm conjures itself out of the void to preserve the infinitely complex balances that stop the whole system blowing itself to pieces. (Even the language in this is a guess, even as the theory is: at best, it is a mataphor.)
Or put it this way: an aeon begets eras, and spans several of them; an era begats ages and spans several of them. Some ages may be sub-ages: changing the idea, but not shifting the weight of it sufficiently to claim proper age-dom.
So what has this to do with the proscenium? Everything, in the long scale of things!
In "The Masks of God", Joseph Campbell suggests that all we are now can be traced back to Mesopotamia, six (?) millennia ago. Let's say the modern era began then. Out of Gilgamesh, shifting westward, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Norman, Medieval and Renaissance ages grew, maybe give or take a few, and to see things through an Euro-centric eye.
Each of these civilisations grew around a changed assumption about the relationship between the Temporal and the Infinite. Essentially a spiritual assumption, since the sacred stories (myths) that accrued to each change of idea, expressed themselves through a changing definition of the godhead. However, although each idea "moved on", and pretended that it did so by rejecting what had been believed before, it nevertheless retained more of the old supposition than it liked to admit, and more honestly was an added-to interpretation of the previous sacrality, rather than a total renovation.
A spiritual assumption, symbolically conveyed through myths, needs to accrue a structure, architecturally-symbolic, a form within which ideas and actions can be conveyed, reflective of the assumption but also exploring, probing its validity and relevance to the changing times; a form faithful to the assumption, enabling the ongoing contextual debate, but itself affected by the nature of the conclusions being reached, until such times as the form finds itself to be inadequate, and is forced to alter, in some particular in order to enable the debate to reach out into newly discovered territories.
Such a change of form also reflects back on the validity of the assumption that begat it; and in minute ways the assumption has to adjust too, which again adjusts the form which again enables the range of the debate. There is then, within the era, a constant flux of change and adjustment, until the form is no longer capable of further adjustment, and the assumption itself either has to adapt in a major way or collapse in favour of a fresh spiritual dogma. When the form gives way, a new age comes into being. When the spiritual assumption is worn out, a fresh era begins. Meanwhile the aeon, bustling and puffing its way through its own massive contents, will itself (say every 26,000 years) reach the end of its own convulsions (each one of which has directly, if unrecognisably, affected each flick of the age's debate) and a fresh aeon, stirred up with a very different sense of itself, will start its own lonely climb towards "harmonising"
the cosmos. I suspect, by these reckonings, when aeon and era and age find themselves exhausted at the same time, then the whole existence of the planetary system (if not the universe) becomes fraught. (And this may exactly be the point of existence we are at now.)
Assume though that we're not, despite the closing-down antics presently being indulged in by statesmen: we are certainly at the end of an age, where western domination, the so-called Renaissance (a bit of word-play I gather of the 19th century) are being left stranded out of water with the ability only to gasp irresolutely at the world that is turning in on them. Plenty of people, such as Nietsche, Oswald Spengler, Thomas Mann, Henrik Ibsen, have been putting the markers out for well over a century.
What has this to do with the proscenium? We're getting to it.
Out of the relationship between Temporal and Etaernal - the spiritual assumption.
Out of the spiritual assumption - the symbolic form.
Out of the symbolic form (architecturally translated) - the practical form.
The practical form determines the permissible dialogue, and the relationships through which that dialogue must pass and with what social constrictions.
Theatre shape becomes the template, the form pressurised by the state of ideas the spiritual assumption has expressly come to.
Each age's theatre-form therefore can be de-constructed to reveal the workings of its contemporaneous "civilisation" - that is, its controlling channels.
The proscenium (ah!) stage came into being as the product of the change in the spiritual assumption (the one that probably started out in Mesopotamia millennia-ago, but forced to modify itself through several ages and sub-ages since) that brought about the Renaissance, and, for all sorts of interlocking reasons, gave the "Western world" a leash of power it has exploited, so far, ever since.
In Medieval times, a much more static social organism, the divine right of Kings began giving way to barons; with the Renaissance, with the rise of the middle classes, and its greater grasp of technology, fluidity entered the system and Authority was forced off its high horse and expected to be more accountable to the (important) people. Theatres moved indoors, seeing became increasingly as important as hearing, perspective was rumbled. Opera, in Italy; ballet, in France
became the rage. The spoken word began to lose its need to be everything in performance. Machinery made illusion much easier. The world of the "imagination" (scenically-interpreted) became a world apart from that of everyday patter. Myth was lessening its hold on ordinary perception. Business and entrepreneurial individualism took over. Scepticism and distance paradoxically grew as the key bodies of the enfranchised expected the powerful to act on their behalf. The somewhat arenal structure of the old theatres (heightened stages, but audiences able to be on three sides) gave way to end-on structures.
In Medieval Theatre, exit stage R was to heaven; stage L was to hell. Man was torn between the two. The backcloth (background) was static. The Proscenium Stage became an embodiment of the Renaissance, though the Arch took some time to come. Machinery intruded into the performance; sets were devised to show off perspective; the backcloth became more fluid. The need for historical accuracy crept in. The basic spiritual assumption undewent a considerable modification. Elizabethan theatre turned into the darker Jacobean variety. Masques became the fashion. With Protestantism (in its Puritannical phase), theatres were banned for a while. Charles came back from the continent stuffed with the growing fashions of a renewed Catholicism. Tennis courts were taken over and converted into performance spaces - audiences became long and thin. With the ability to light, actors, for their own safety retreated up into the lit space; the unruly audiences very gradually (over two centuries) had to be tamed. Professionalisation was the rage: The creation of trained institutionalised "experts", trying to be serious about their jobs, needed protection from the representatives of the "hoi-polloi" who increasingly were not the hoi-polloi at all: except at some point the theatre split into two: the old native tradition survived as music-hall and pantomime; the new theatre, picking up on its revived classical roots, went for the more high-blown stuff; but, for both, the stage became entrenched as a mysterious, cut-off, magical place of spectacle where the lit experts cavorted, and the unlit gawpers-in increasingly shut up (except to laugh and applaud). The Proscenium Stage, replete with its arch, found the form that still dominates theatre today in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. It mutated, over time, into landscape and fourth-wall theatre (among others) as the major ideas of the day wrestled with the difficulties of handling the underlying spiritual assumption, that the Renaissance was both struggling to be loyal to, but growing increasingly critical of.
the earth is not the system's centre- so ok
heliocentric - well our sun's a midget
spawning galaxies blow our minds away
space then equal to a digit
the mightiest telescope's a widget
science at best hard guessing gone astray
no genius stretch beyond a second's fidget
ptolemy discarded yet may have his say
infinity takes a hologram to bridge it
each shard of us contains the cosmos -
space then equal to a digit
Sunday, March 25, 2007
When I retreated from London to Southampton, I started with the thought that the proper alternative to the Proscenium would be the open stage - not sure when I read Richard Southern's book of that title, but its arguments impressed me greatly - so went about setting up a small company The Rostrum Theatre that gave no doubt what I was about. Swollen-mindedly, I jumped into a production (one performance only) of Othello, using a cast of friends and acquaintances, plus one apparently highly-regarded ex-professional who had come to teach in the town (now city). The venue was a downtown equivalent of The Albert Hall. It failed in most aspects, aided spectacularly by the ex-professional, playing Othello, who had quit the stage, I then learned, because he had to get drugged up in order to perform. After which, those in the company still willing to admit being part of it would stay members only if performance was confined to behind the proscenium arch. From 1953 to 1957, then, I did such plays as Ibsen's Ghosts, Strindberg's Easter and Priestley's An Inspector Calls, deconstructing the Proscenium set-up from within, discarding lighting, scenery, costume and stage furniture, one item after another, until the company performed Chekov's The Bear with two chairs only, both of whiich had to be broken by the end.
When the curtain rose on such a bleak vision, the audience (part of a Drama Festival) froze into dismay and found it hard to titter once at all the on-stage slapstick. Finally, before throwing in the Rostrum's towel, I wrote a one-acter for another Drama Festival, which started with an open curtain looking on to three chairs set out as a triangle on the stage's edges. The play was called Triangle; actors sat in the chairs when they were "off-stage". It was actually praised by the adjudicator.
Meanwhile, I had started teaching, and from 1955 to 1957 had written and directed three Christmas plays for large casts in the all-age Hampshire school I was appointed to. I hadn't the courage there to insist on working outside the proscenium - partly because there was already a tradition there for a stage to be built for some kind of seasonal show. My innovation was to write the plays.
Ron James turned up as Hampshire Drama Adviser during that period, was very much into the new ideas of school drama, and already an advocate of open-staging. So, at last I met someone moving along the same lines as myself (indeed rather further ahead) and I was boosted by a relationship that still continues today.
In 1958 the Senior Section of the all-age school I was at shifted temporarily into Eastleigh; I was offered the post of Head of English and found myself in an old Grammar School building with two large halls and no stage. In that year, I met Stephen Joseph, who was touring his Studio Theatre from Scarborough in Southampton, and booked Brian Way to bring his Children's Theatre Group to perform in what was now my drama hall. Both were the major advocates of theatre-in-the-round. That then was the year of my conversion from open-stage theatre to the Round, though in Ron James's Children's Theatre Groups set up by him in a number of Hampshire's districts performances stayed within the semi-arena. Since that year I have only once performed on the proscenium stage - and then to help out a neighbour working with her own amateur company in Southampton who found herself short of someone for the main part.
Much of my awareness of the value and significance of the Round started from conversations with Stephen Joseph, whom I last spoke to a week or two before his death in 1967 at the age of 46. He started, I think, as a theatre designer after his war service in the navy, and came to the Round through contacts in the United States but also with drama practitioners in the UK. Theatre shape to him had symbolic significances well beyond theatre itself; he looked at its development through Greek, Roman, Medieval and Renaissance periods in the light of its relationship with the philosophical and political structures of those civilisations. This touched several nerve ends in my own inchoate searches into significant form, nudged into being by the writings of Clive Bell and others; and since those conversations I have followed the implications of the Round at every level of my creative and social endeavours.