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The Wasp Factory

October 6, 2013

Yesterday was an interesting if packed day.  I landed from Ohio by way of New York had a quick shower in arrivals then up to Oxford for a meeting on our new approach to scenario planning.  More on that mid week and a chance to take part in an experiment on the privacy issue next weekend. Then to the Oxford station car park and a train to London to meet daughter for a meal followed by Ben Frost's production of The Wasp Factory in the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera 2013.  Then back to Oxford and an hours drive home arriving around midnight.  It was a bit of a crazy schedule, but it was nothing on what is coming over the next two days!  Sunday is a rugby match and an opera with a lot of driving followed by at 0630 flight on Monday morning.  

It was more than worth the travel.  Dinner with daughters when they are doing MAs in one of your subject and want to talk about material culture and cognition is a special privilege.  We had a great dinner at One Aldwych and then went on to the opera.  This was an intense experience and Jördis Richter (pictured) was an incredible athlete as well as performer.   I remember when the book came out and the literally phenomena that was Ian Banks (or Ian M Banks for science fiction) burst onto the scene.  His death earlier this year was a tragedy although his proposal to his girl when he knew he had terminal cancer summarises his writing: Would you do me the honour of becoming my widow.  I will not ruin the story for those who have not read it, the whole thing is black, intense and profoundly disturbing.  For many critics, and I agree with them, is that it was a post Orwellian attack on Thatcher and her cult of the individual.  But it was more than that.

The great thing about an opera of a book, which is different from a film of a book, is that it takes an aspect and portrays it in the most complete art form.  Voice, acting, staging, music, scenery: opera is the complete aesthetic experience.  The staging here starts with a tray of dirt which moves to the vertical to create the isolation of an island and on which the actor/singers crawled and interacted.  It was a compelling experience that took you into the world of schizophrenia though two characters.  Birtwistle did something similar in Mask of Orpheus with each character portrayed by three (upper voice, lower voice and mime) which expands Platonic theory of forms.

I'm going to be posting more on aesthetics and their importance for human sense-making.  But just for the experience kill for a ticket if it is revived or performed elsewhere.

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