What is utopia? Ah - a simple question, surely?? Well, no.. er, not really..
If you’re Google, utopia is apparently ‘an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect’. If you’re Wikipedia, utopia is ‘an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-political legal system’. Or if you’re Fiona Skinner, one of the actors in our piece, utopia is ‘that place between heaven and hell, right?’. Hmm..
So what is utopia? This is the question we’ve been manically racking our brains about since this time last Friday, when we were set a challenge to come up with our vision of a ‘Brave New World’ for nabokov. Director Kirsty Patrick Ward and I went off down several different avenues at first – from plastic surgery (my very literal vision of ‘a perfect society’) through to the Full Moon Party in Thailand (a utopian place for everyone from gap yahs to grannies).
But after a muddled few days of false starts and panicked drafts, there was one thing that just wouldn’t seem to go away – the frenzied euphoria of the Queen’s jubilee celebrations. And with trumpets and Tom Jones both blaring in the background, it seemed like the answer was sitting right on top of us. Because we may well be going through a pretty dire time right now; in economic straits, political pandemonium and mass instability in all walks of life, but pass round some sausage rolls and some Pimms and Lemonade and everyone comes together in a massive haze of happiness; a sociological utopia, dare I say.
So boom. There we had it. A great place to start from – where we are now as a country, as a people. 3 fantastic actors later – Nick Blakeley, Ben Stott and Fiona Skinner – and we got down to work. We set them off on a task to talk about different royal events through the ages; hot seating each of them to imagine a character discussing their place in time. Overnight, I went off and pieced together their words into mine, supplemented by hours of YouTube footage of various royal events and a quick stop via a nursing home to ask my Nan her memories of camping overnight to watch the Queen’s Coronation.
I won’t give away too much of what we’ve done, only to say that it’s about how it’s times of national celebrations, or mournings, that we all seem to pull off some kind of collective euphoria. It seems to me to be a great shame that these times only come during Royal events, national celebrations and sporting events. So in this celebrated year of 2012, certainly as far as London goes, we’re giving Pimms-fuelled utopia our very best shot. So come down and check us out this Sunday at 6pm and see what we’ve come up with.. and see if you agree!