A note on: Mayakovsky, my play, has been something else

What I've tried to do, with this play, is fulfil the dictum that a good work of art can only create the opposite effect of its intention - that is I set out to lie based on truth, so that the audience would feel truth based on lies. It was a generous process - ground up, collective, energetic, exciting. And I think, amidst the obvious density of the play, people to get the gist. 

The experience of writing and directing Mayakovsky (for the Land of Scoundrels night of theatre, at Rich Mix Cultural Foundation, for the Revolution 17 season, which opened this past Friday June 9th) has been a privilege, especially to be commissioned to do so. And It has not yet worn off, the experience of having good actors perform words I’ve mangled, and there is something undoubtedly intoxicating about theatre, as a practise, way beyond poetry and something before performance. It is so fundamentally collaborative, reactive, uncontrollable, inaccurate … it’s entirely alive and human, and the smallest change or development or gesture – be it physical or linguistic or intellectual – can shift entire narratives of meaning. It is a playground in that sense, in begins in failure and needs trust. These are things I am attracted to.

This play is modernist in its dialogue, it uses poetry and found text and slight disjunctions, but has a more theatrical, playful, physical tone - its definitely the most accessible thing I've written for the stage.. It’s about death, a very certain kind of nostalgic, faux romantic death, the death of a poet, who like the martyr he became, might not have needed to actually exist to serve his purpose. I’m always sure of what kind of writing I want to do for theatre, I feel confident in my purpose, but every time I do notice some in the audience sag under the weight and intricacy of what I'm trying to do, I do feel conflicted, if not saddened. There's something not quite there yet, I've not yet written anything brilliant. I just find realism and exaggeration and melodrama so offputting, so frightening, that I suppose at times I must be overcompensating.

Petra Freimund, a very experienced dramaturg has been a great person to share a double bill with, her experience invaluable, and my old friend Thomas Duggan has produced the most incredible set. His work has made my play. It is a spectacular sight, fitting for any theatre in the world.

The actors have been amazing, all of them generous and insightful, all of them taking the characters to the point I imagined and often beyond. Really it’s one the very best experiences I’ve had with a group of actors – they have worked so hard, so mindfully, with a real energy and dedication. Simon Christian, Edie Deffebach, Rebecca Dunn, Alec Bennie. They all have engaged with my text with great respect and on the final night, which was the best of three very good performances, I felt a sure sense of comfort that the characters had reached past what might’ve been expected. That perhaps there was some moments of brilliance in this work, and it was thanks to them. 

Overall a grand thing, these three days of performances, and the short time in preparation, no more than a few meetings really, in what has been a production of extremely limited resource. Perhaps it has been so resonant because of this fact. Everyone is in it because they wish to be.

A note on: beginning production on Land of Scoundrels, new theatre at Rich Mix

I'm to write a new short play, called Mayakovsky, as part of a night of theatre at Rich Mix, commissioned for their Revolution 17 season, on the centenary of the Russian Revolution. It will be staged with an amazing set design by Thomas Duggan, who has designed for Vesterport's theatre's Faust recently amongst other things, and placed alongside new works by Austrian playwright Petra Freimund and Larry Lynch, who often works for the Belarus Free Theatre. We began our production proper this week and already the project is inspiring, I'm learning immensely from the experience of these three deeply intelligent people. Actors will be cast soon, a score written, and then we'll build to June 9th 10th 11th, which will be intense. www.stevenjfowler.com/mayakovsky

Ilya Kaminsky at ? - July 29th

Ilya Kaminsky at TBC
July tuesday 29th :7:30pm : free entry

Join one of the world's most brilliant poets for a rare and intimate reading IN the heart of London. Kaminsky's dynamic and beautiful poetry has received critical praise from his native Russia to America, where he lives, and everywhere in between, yet still fails to capture the generosity of spirit and literary brilliance so clearly revealed by his readings.  Ilya will be joined by a series of UK based poets who will also read their work including James Byrne & Sandeep Parmar.

http://www.europeanbookshop.com/ http://www.ilyakaminsky.com/

4 poems from {Enthusiasm} published by Frankmatter

http://frankmattermag.com/ Really happy to more poems from a future work leaking out into the world in some fine journals and publishing enterprises. Frankmatter, based in the US, is a tri-annual online journal, and really has set some fine standards for itself. Im pretty chuffed to be in this issue alongside a new translation of Le Clezio for example. The poems are about Ealing, Healing, the FSB and IEDs. http://frankmattermag.com/2014/02/02/four-poems-by-sj-fowler/

Healing as a planet
I saw to it, Ealing as a planet earth
going to its slow growth
a place begging vegetable
sombre, health seeking, much a taste acquired
in time, application & practise
for health in wisdom
big ball of blue veined envy & ambition
missing the high st. when on holidays
you have a home, sad puppet lurch of our heart suburb
red road bezerker
full of family

Catechism: Poems for Pussy Riot won Best Poetry Anthology in the 2013 Saboteur Awards!

Really happy to have been part of the endeavour to bring attention to the Pussy riot case, through organising two events last year and reading outside the russian consulate and my work being in this anthology, which last night won an award for it's brilliance. Thanks and respect go to the editors, including Sophie Mayer and Sarah Crewe, the team at English PEN, including Cat Lucas and all the poets and translators involved.  There's a report from English PEN here And there’s even some coverage in the Guardian (though the article is flub)

Cat Lucas also added "This rare piece of good news was also particularly timely. Just hours before the ceremony, Moscow’s highest court rejected Pussy Riot’s appeal against their two-year sentence, denying that the charges against them were politically motivated. And the day before, a week into her hunger strike, Masha Alykohina had to be transferred to hospital in her prison colony in Berezniki. Whilst we are over the moon to have won the award and that everyone’s efforts so far have been recognised, there is still a very long way to go. So let’s all use this as an opportunity to raise even more awareness of Pussy Riot’s tragic case, and to continue to call for their immediate and unconditional release."