Beauty and the Beast

Last night I saw Beauty and the Beast at The Young Vic Theatre in London with Mat Fraser, the wonderful British disabled actor/writer as the Beast and his wife Julie Atlas Muz, American burlesque star and Miss Coney Island, as Beauty. They told their love story alongside the fairy tale with help from 2 puppeteer/slaves called Jess and John and some vegetables.
Honestly? It’s the most moving, surprising, playful production I’ve seen – I was on the edge of my seat, laughing, barking and seeing vegetables in a whole new way. Mat and Julie are naked much of the time, so it’s x-rated, but also utterly joyful. Go see it. Don’t take your mother.

From one beautiful beast to the beastliness of war.
In The Odyssey: a soldier’s road home in a recent Guardian Saturday Review, Charlotte Higgins considers what happens to soldiers when conflicts end.
They “come out of one war into another”, says David Finkel in his new book, Thank You for Your Service, on the experiences of returning soldiers.

Higgens tells us this:

According to a report published by the Department of Veteran Affairs, 22 US veterans killed themselves every day in 2010.

And in the UK more soldiers and veterans killed themselves in 2012 than died in combat in Afghanistan.

She refers to Euripides’ play, Heracles Being Mad (Heracles Mainomenos), where where the goddess Lyssa causes Heracles, recently returned from his labours and reunited with his family, to turn on his wife and children and kill them.
Lyssa represents a particular madness – combat-craziness.

According to Finkel, the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan have have
created about half a million mentally wounded American veterans. That’s only the American soldiers. The tip of the iceberg.

What can we do from our safe little bubble?

All this past week, the Special AKA’s ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ – that joyfully righteous anthem – has been playing in my head.
My son told me they played it in his school assembly, to commemorate his death.
I’ve been thinking of this bit:

Are you so blind that you cannot see.
Are you so deaf that you cannot hear.
Are you so dumb that you cannot speak.

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