Podcast #13

A Poison Tree & Suicide in the Trenches

– By William Blake, Siegfried Sassoon
A Little Bit of Drama

“A Poison Tree” by William Blake

I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears:
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night.
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine.

And into my garden stole,
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see;
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

…..
“Suicide in the Trenches” by Siegfried Sassoon

I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

Podcast #12

HOW DO I LOVE THEE? (SONNET 43)

– By ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING
A Little Bit of Drama

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Podcast #11

She Dwelt among the Untrodden Ways

– By WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
A Little Bit of Drama

She dwelt among the untrodden ways
Besides the spring of Dove,
A Maid whom there were none to praise
And very few to love:

A violet by a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye!
—Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.

She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and, oh,
The difference to me!

#10: Episode 2

POEMS

– By Robert Walker
A Little Bit of Drama
DAWN

Dead shadows dance in the night

yearning for the dawn.

Cold and forgotten walking scars,

drained by decay,

wasted by time,

stretch out,

hungered and blurred,

to a spark ignited,

climbing,

rising from the ground.

From the dark depths,

rays of hope entwine in the sky,

kissing the hills;

breathing new life

and wonders layered in light.

Naked with joy, a new day, a new world is born.

THE OUTER VIEW

Beneath a mountain of tedium,

In a dull ugly system,

In an empty ocean of shadows,

Is a silhouette of pure fire heat

Drifting in the dark.

All I wanted was the wind;

The wind murmured with anticipation,

The grass turned to icy grey,

A fine mist fell,

And with the mist came my sorrow

Cooling my body

With her thousand kisses,

Leaving me there.

I am surrounded by ice crystals

floating down through silence

into soft glowing snow.

The only sound is the pulse of my breathing.

As the sun sleeps,

how many hearts are dreaming,

when the world stands still.

Podcast #9

the outer view

– By Robert Walker
A Little Bit of Drama

Beneath a mountain of tedium,

In a dull ugly system,

In an empty ocean of shadows,

Is a silhouette of pure fire heat

Drifting in the dark.

All I wanted was the wind;

The wind murmured with anticipation,

The grass turned to icy grey,

A fine mist fell,

And with the mist came my sorrow

Cooling my body

With her thousand kisses,

Leaving me there.

I am surrounded by ice crystals

floating down through silence

into soft glowing snow.

The only sound is the pulse of my breathing.

As the sun sleeps,

how many hearts are dreaming,

when the world stands still.

Podcast #8

“to be, or not to be”

– hamlet in hamlet By william shakespeare (act 3, scene 1)
A Little Bit of Drama

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep,
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to: ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause—there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovere’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.

Podcast #7

jabberwocky

– By lewis carroll
A Little Bit of Drama

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Podcast #6

Dawn

– By Robert Walker
A Little Bit of Drama

Dead shadows dance in the night

yearning for the dawn. 

Cold and forgotten walking scars,

drained by decay,

wasted by time,

stretch out,

hungered and blurred,

to a spark ignited,

climbing,

rising from the ground. 

From the last depths,

rays of hope entwine in the sky,

kissing the hills;

breathing new life

and wonders layered in light. 

Naked with joy, a new day, a new world is born.

Podcast #5

“Th’ expense of spirit in a waste of shame”

– SONNET 129 BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
A Little Bit of Drama

Th’ expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murd’rous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,
Enjoyed no sooner but despisèd straight,
Past reason hunted; and, no sooner had
Past reason hated as a swallowed bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad;
Mad in pursuit and in possession so,
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.
All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

Journal 2020-09-18

Watching performers, I appreciate quality but I don’t get particularly excited by even exquisite technical excellence. Looks attract, certainly, but interest is quickly lost if there is nothing real going on beyond the performance. I detach emotionally when there is anything conceited or contrived. What holds me is real lived human experience, with all its perfect imperfections; something genuine that has emerged in the moment and surprised even the performer.

Journal 2020-09-10

I really don’t like listening to or watching any recent performance of mine, even if I am generally pleased with how it turned out. This is weird because I don’t mind after a while, when there is some distance of time and I have forgotten about the process involved. I suppose the time delay helps me enjoy it as an audience member, rather than identifying so firmly as the performer.

Podcast #4

“When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes”

– Sonnet 29 by William Shakespeare
A Little Bit of Drama

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Shakespeare the Songwriter

I listened on YouTube to various attempts at turning Shakespeare’s sonnets into songs, but I don’t think these straight translations work very well. However Shakespeare is so clever that if you read the lines of his sonnets out of sequence as rhyming couplets – e.g. line 1 then 3 then 2 then 4 etc. – the sonnets usually still work well, without losing the meaning. So I picked up a guitar, strummed some rhythms and improvised some vocal melodies to the rejigged lines, and it all works great!

A key for translating Shakespeare’s sonnets into a standard song format:

VERSE 1:

Line 1

Line 3

Line 2

Line 4

CHORUS:

Line 13

Line 14

VERSE 2:

Line 5

Line 7

Line 6

Line 8

CHORUS:

Line 13

Line 14

BRIDGE:

Line 9

Line 11

Line 10

Line 12

CHORUS:

Line 13

Line 14

Line 13

Line 14

Shakespearean Style

It is so important with the poetic flow of Shakespeare that every word means something real to the actor, otherwise the viewer will get lost in the density of content coming at them. Watching performances of Shakespeare, it is so obvious when an actor is merely ploughing through the rhythms in a conventional Shakespearean style, rather than really living the powerful words given to them. Thankfully there are lots of good actors and performances out there.

#3: Episode 1

Hello and welcome.

A Little Bit of Drama

Excerpts (in order of appearance):

  • Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare.
  • Hamlet in Hamlet by William Shakespeare.
  • Antony in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare.
  • Iago in Othello by William Shakespeare.
  • Mike in West by Steven Berkoff.

Music:

Journal 2020-08-11

Reading Hamlet.

It’s been done millions of times, but my instinctive interpretation of Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy is a bit different from the many performances I have seen. In fact it may be unhelpful seeing other people’s performances because the blueprints distract from my own relationship with the words.

Every single person has both uniqueness and a shared oneness with everybody else. What is interesting is finding the individuality and playing with it, rather than blandly mimicking other people or current socialised expectations.

Podcast #2

“I HATE THE MOOR”

– IAGO IN OTHELLO BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ACT 1, SCENE 3)
A Little Bit of Drama

Iago is such a terrifying character because he revels in what he is doing. The motivating reasons can be analysed: broken pride, a sense of betrayal, jealousy, ambition, desire for power over others – or even unrequited love turned sour, if you want to read it that way. It’s true that villains often fool themselves into believing their actions are justified, or the fault of fate or caused by others; but the main factor with Iago is that he knows he is the villain and sadistically enjoys the suffering he causes. His motivation is the full embracing of enmity.

IAGO:

I hate the Moor: 
And it is thought abroad, that ‘twixt my sheets 
He has done my office: I know not if’t be true; 
But I, for mere suspicion in that kind, 
Will do as if for surety. He holds me well; 
The better shall my purpose work on him. 
Cassio’s a proper man: let me see now: 
To get his place and to plume up my will 
In double knavery—How, how? Let’s see:— 
After some time, to abuse Othello’s ear 
That he is too familiar with his wife. 
He hath a person and a smooth dispose 
To be suspected, framed to make women false. 
The Moor is of a free and open nature, 
That thinks men honest that but seem to be so, 
And will as tenderly be led by the nose 
As asses are. 
I have’t. It is engender’d. Hell and night 
Must bring this monstrous birth to the world’s light.

Podcast #1

“FRIENDS, ROMANS, COUNTRYMEN”

– ANTONY IN JULIUS CAESAR BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ACT 3, SCENE 2)
A Little Bit of Drama

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest–
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men–
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

Journal 2020-07-30

Wasn’t Shakespeare amazing. It would be so interesting to find out how his genius developed – what he saw and experienced in his life that helped him write such beautiful words and comprehend so deeply the human condition in all its different aspects. I can think of other notable geniuses in history – Mozart in music, Newton in science etc. – but Shakespeare is a sort of mythical other, shrouded in mystery, whose breadth of insight has the greatest impact on me.

Journal 2020-07-12

I’m interested in performing great monologues from literature – it seems easy to upload audio as a podcast and also filmed versions for a YouTube channel.

I’ve been looking for a podcast where I can listen to dramatic performances of literature, but am finding mostly dry monotone readings of poetry. Monologues on YouTube seem to be mostly non-realistic anger and angst.

Age-old issue

A: Angry humans of the twentieth century came to the brink of self-destruction, inflicting unbelievable suffering in the process. Hating the hatred helps it grow, even though it may change its face.

B: That’s just an empty platitude. If you don’t fight the malevolent, you are complicit by allowing it to continue.

A: You always become the result of the energy that moves you. Not for no reason has it been so often said that you become the thing you hate.

B: I have every right to hate. There should be justice! People sitting on mountain tops don’t have to deal with the realities of this world. If people didn’t fight for what is right, evil would walk over everything, including you and me.

A: You deserve not to be contaminated by this energy. You have a chance to be better, to make a better world. You can feel what is right and act intensely, but it is your anger that unbalances you.

B: Some people are evil, I have no intention of being kind to them, they deserve everything coming to them.

A: The world will only heal with kindness. If humanity can find its light there can be no darkness. You can help make that possible, right now.

B: Anything I do will not change the world.

A: Give your love and the world will be relieved. Give your anger and the world will be wounded yet again. That’s how important you are. That’s how important every single person is.

Peace of mind

1:  Can you help me?

4:  Yes of course.

1: I am consumed with feelings for someone who doesn’t have them for me. I have trouble sleeping and wake up aroused. I have no choice but to think about her and when I do I am flooded with physical desire for her. This is “in love” right?

4:  You know that sexual desire changes and what you are feeling now may fade away?

1:  Yes I know craving isn’t love, but it isn’t as simple as that.

4:  What do you think triggered it this time?

1:  I don’t know.

4:  Pain is attracted to pain because it wants more of it.

1: I’m not sure I agree with that. It’s recognition of something in another, a similar frequency or whatever you want to call it. I suppose if you see similar expression in another, empathy can create feelings of closeness.

4:  Can you express your feelings to her?

1:  It’s not possible or helpful to be open with her, she has her own life and I want her to be happy.

4:  Examine whether that is really true, or are you being fearful?

1:  No, it’s not possible, selfish even.

4:  Then this is an opportunity for you to practice love with non-attachment.

1:  Doesn’t sound very romantic.

4: Love is giving, complete, the source of everything. Love doesn’t need to crave anything. This is where peace and serenity reside.

1: Sounds like you’re saying I should not get too close to anyone or need or miss anyone. It sounds unnatural, uncaring.

4: Love is not conditional on the circumstances in this world. Let your heart break, don’t be afraid, don’t struggle, you will find that nothing is ever lost.

1:  I don’t know what you’re talking about.

4: Yes you do. Be still, radiate love, your true nature beyond the conditioning of your mind.

Something instead of nothing

1:  Why is there something instead of nothing?

3:  Given an infinite amount of opportunities anything can emerge from the chaos, including our world. 

1:  But why are there infinite somethings compelled with energy, rather than nothing?

3: There was no beginning, our universe probably burst forth from another universe and so on. It has always been so.

1:  But where did the first universe come from?

3: Not everything has an answer yet, but no doubt it will be explained with the advance of scientific knowledge. Even if the goal is not reached, there is no need to include supernatural causes in the equation. Logic requires that we deal with verifiable facts, adopting the most efficient explanation.

1: Time does not make sense. The existence of things does not make sense. Can we not postulate the existence of something beyond time and space that created everything? Can we call this God?

3: There is no need to do so. We may not know what the variable x is yet, but we should not start invoking imaginary entities.

1:  Something doesn’t feel right.

3:  There is no evidence for the existence of a God or Gods, the world is explicable in terms of scientific explanation.

1: The fact is that I have always believed in God, it’s not a considered opinion or the product of upbringing, it’s just what has been instinctive to me.

3:  Ok well a cognitive scientist may explain this as a natural propensity to religiosity, there by natural selection to give a purpose for the survival of the organism. 

1:  Is there any meaning?

3: A person may look at the nature of the universe, see the randomness of outcomes, the cruelty and enormous suffering and decide there is no benevolence at work here. They may look at evolution by natural selection and decide there is no plan here. The universe, although magnificent, does not care about us – we must make our own way and make our own meaning in the brief window of opportunity for existence.

1:  Suddenly you’re speaking with feeling, maybe your outlook is motivated through sympathy and outrage at the sufferings in the world.

3: It is logic replacing delusion. Myths and fairy stories aren’t needed anymore.

1: I admire your beliefs more than belief systems motivated out of fear or desire for self-reward. I don’t care what you believe, as long as your actions are kind.

3: My conclusions are not beliefs. Religious delusions have been the cause of so much of the worst in humanity.

1:  Religions are subject to corruption, yet the spiritual path can be found in the different traditions.

3:  A God is not necessary to be spiritual, to behave with morality and to appreciate beauty in Nature.

1: You do have a belief system. You believe the universe ultimately has no purpose and its existence can be completely explained by rules contained within itself – when in fact there is no way of knowing the ultimate causes of things. You believe the answer to the mystery of existence is that there isn’t one.

3: I am offering the most logical approach to understand the world.

1: I don’t believe that the world would exist without a purpose. I believe in the possibility of a reality beyond this reality, beyond cause and effect, time and space. In this life I see the purpose as feeling connected with the world, being present and alive, feeling love, creativity, beauty and joy. The true reality of experience may run far deeper than what our senses show us.

3:  I deal with facts and what can be observed, not imagined.

1: Reality is tenuous – it can be anything depending on what our senses show us. Whether what they are showing is objectively real is unknowable. I think you have too much faith in the material surface reality of things, a reality that in itself does not seem complete.

nosce te ipsum

2:  Why do you hurt?

1:  Because I love her.

2: Do you love her? You could have done something a long time ago if you loved her.

1:  I was dead inside.

2: Ah bless. Don’t make excuses, you want what you can’t have – is that not true?

1:  No I hurt because of losing the hoped for happiness I might have had.

2: You are confusing emotions, thinking with your dick. You’ve felt like this before haven’t you?

1: Yes. More than once.

2:  You’re just repeating the same old patterns then aren’t you?

1:  Yes probably, but maybe I am because I didn’t learn before.

2: Ha, bullshit. Shit happens, you think you’ve learnt something?

1:  I’m aware of this conversation.

2: I’m you, dickhead. Have this “conversation” out loud on the tube, see what response you get.

1: I might get a couple of extra seats.

I know that your voice is interchangeable with the madness happening in the world.

2: What’s that supposed to mean! Wake up, it’s survival of the fittest. Obey the rules or be just another of the losers cast aside. I can help you.

1: Maybe you mean it, but you say the same thing to everyone else as well, resulting in everyone using and abusing each other for the survival of you.

2: Nobody gives a shit about you. If you’re too stupid to understand that then you’re just another of nature’s mistakes. Tell me, what is love?

1:  A sense of feeling connected with another, wanting the other to flourish and to feel joy themselves.

2: Bullshit. It’s a chemical response in your brain evolved to make you bond for the purpose of rearing children. The science is there if you are prepared to look. You’re a disposable puppet to your genes.

1: I don’t understand the unknowable ultimate causes of things and neither does scientific knowledge. What I do know is that if more people felt connected to each other, and loved each other, then the world would be a much better place.

2: Women seek to manipulate and control you. They will prod and poke you to see your reactions. It’s all perfectly understandable – they want someone dedicated to them who will do their bidding. Love and sex are excellent ways to achieve results.

1: I think that women are more likely to get extreme when they feel they’re not receiving the love they have given. But generally everyone is crying out in the dark to be loved.

2: Love, love all we need is love – it’s shite. You’re here to be somebody, to take what you can before it’s too late. By all means, pretend to love if it means getting women, that’s a good tactic.

1:  It’s also callous and hateful.

2: People who desire love want to be adored, admired, pleasured. A little bit of chemical voodoo and that’s your love. It soon goes when the chemicals wear off, when things aren’t as pleasurable as before, when the compliments turn into insults. I can get you better drugs than that if you want.

1: Sometimes with the need to be loved comes an illness that is one way, conditional and with high expectations for personal reward. It’s not love. But all things change, the illness can fade into full health.

2:  A leopard doesn’t change its spots.

1: You’re becoming boring.

2: You disappoint me. You are not survival material.

1:  Somehow that doesn’t matter any more. 

2: You will gradually rot away to nothing. And no-one will give a shit.

1: Oh well. I feel a bit lighter. And you’ve helped me answer the main question. Yes I do love her because I want her to be fulfilled and happy, even if she finds that with someone else.

2:  Twat!

1: I would rather live in my world than yours. Cheers.