My friend, George Noskov, had five of his short plays performed at Teatro Technis in Camden Town, London. I got a call from the director, George Eugeniou, when the plays were already in rehersal, asking if I would be able to put some drawings up as a little exhibition in the theatre foyer. Possibly some portraits of the poet? Invited over to talk about it; I turned up while the actors were in full swing, and being signalled to go over to sit next to the director on the couch in the middle of the room, I watched a run-through of two of the plays. Then, calling a break the director introduced me to the company as an artist…, who’s kindly going to hang some pictures etc etc .., and a very good friend of Noskov who will now tell you all about him. Eh!? That woke me.
Caught on the hop; put on the spot; and definately not rehersed, I buried my instinct to protest ‘n’ refuse and held forth, horrified at having to do a simultaneous translation from the affectionate familiar to the spiteful unknown. I started to tell about my friend, not to friends who know George, I realised, but as a construct for public consumption. To promote the guy for goodness sake, I was saying to myself as I was talking, wanting to turn my friend into someone important for these actors to believe in. Searching, while speaking, for what it is about George which makes him special to me and, at the same time, looking for the detail which will make my Russian poet friend come alive to these people who will play the parts he has written for them.
If I had been able to do it I’d tell you. It wasn’t that I was stuck for words, it was the direction they were taking…. Never mind, I made myself more work – volunteering drawings for the performance itself – for the prologue and the epilogue. A picture book of sketches of the poet and a flick-book style type-animation, which, with help, might get loaded up onto here. We’ll see when.