The Innocent and the Thunderbolt, set in contemporary London, follows the funny, tragic and - at times - deplorable day to day lives of professional muses Jude Reed and Patti Blewitt. Origionally appointed by (now sleeping) gods to inspire artists, writers and singers to paint, write and sing their praises; the millennia old Muses now inspire for personal profit. The combined efforts of a (deceased) indie rock star, a tempestuous Aphrodite, a girl who mistakes The Kama Sutra for a curry and a tramp with no legs, cause Patti and Jude to question what really does inspire artists today. Is it fame, lust, love, hunger, money - or divine interference -? or, is all art, like everything, (as Blake would have it) simply 'an attempt to be human?'
Thunderbolt has gone through many drafts and many more titles (the latest inspired from a line in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra) and was first heard out loud on the 21st of June 2010, with award-winning playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney reading in for one of the parts. The part was since cut, but McCraney's encouragement and criticism (offered by the CAPITAL Centre playwriting course McCraney was hosting) gave me the confidence to keep writing. As well as McCraney's work other influences on the writing include Beckett, King Lear, the Tony Kushner epic Angels in America and, of course, Greek mythology - as well as the conversations of friends, family and total strangers: muses all.
As a supporter of the 'I Value the Arts' and 'Theatre Uncut' movements, as well as being someone aspiring to work in the theatre following university, the recent government cuts to Arts funding is a concern. I also think nationwide debate on the matter has exposed this country's backward and passive relationship with the Arts - some intent on turning the debate into an Arts versus Science one (Jeremy Paxman, j'accuse...) Fundamentally, the haphazard cuts made will discourage talented and otherwise enthusiastic young people from getting involved in theatre. As a result, only those who can afford to act, write, direct and design for a living will, and once again the theatre becomes a forum for the middle-classes, and not for, as it can be, the country as a whole. I hope to touch upon some of these ideas in Thunderbolt. The Muses, like the Arts Council, hold offices in Westminster...
Photograph by Lauren Stone