There are people like me, who love going to the theatre, thinking and writing about theatre, and have dabbled as a practitioner in the past. Then there are people who use theatre to try and really change things. Oh, it's a bombastic and creaky and empty statement, I know, but Jonathan Chadwick deserves that accolade as much as anyone I know. I met Jonathan when I was a London actress so anonymous that even I struggle to remember who I was, and he was teaching an incredible course called The Inner Space.
We made an instant connection, and as I found out more about his past (Assistant Director at The Royal Court, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Sheffield Crucible and Theatre Foundry; teacher at RADA and LAMDA; director of plays in Paris, Texas, Canada, Southern Australia and Romania; nuturer of community projects such as Berwick Street Film Collective and Paddington Arts) and his present (lover of Joni Mitchell; owner of the oldest car in London; cooker of superlative fish) I sort of, well, fell in love, a little bit.
Now Jonathan channels most of his considerable energies into Az Theatre, which "seeks to connect the transformative power of the actor to the investigative power of theatre through research, development and production projects, based on international and community partnerships". Extraordinary recent projects to have emerged from Az include The Peoples Palladium, a theatre company based in the Bangladeshi community in East London, and War Stories, an exploration of theatre and war, creativity and destruction, with companies from Algeria, Serbia and Palestine. Thing-changing? You decide.
In fact, you get to decide on Saturday 12th June, if you have £20 and time to nip to the Soho Theatre at 12.30pm. His latest production Gaza/Guernica is ludicrously timely - a reading of Arrabal’s Guernica plus scenes from contemporary life in Gaza as written by Theatre for Everybody (the Gaza-based partners of War Stories), with a wet-dream cast including David Calder, Anna Carteret, Tara Fitzgerald, Stephen Lowe, Roger Lloyd Pack, Harriet Walter and more. I found out about it on the day ten civilian aid workers were killed when Israeli Defence Forces stormed their ships in international waters. Rarely has a show felt so painfully relevant.
Of course, I can't go, as I'll be in Patmos, pretending that all the troubles of the world boil down to whether I can switch from factor 50 to 30. So please go instead, and let me know what it's like.