I was invited to lunch at the House of Commons yesterday. After Australia House on Friday, it seems to be the season to be swanning through the corridors of power. Strange to pass through the security checks on September 11th, but once inside you can't help feeling rather proud of the place.
The lunch is a launch event for the Passage of Music season, which Dilemma is part of because of the involvement of Osei Korankye, the wonderful seprewa player we're bringing from Ghana. Passage of Music is a season of events around the slvery anniversary, which use music to evoke the past, to arouse an emotional response, and to promote reconciliation. Exactly the word used by the Australian Deputy High Commissioner about ORIGINS on Friday night - nice to see such a powerful theme emerging in our work. Meurig, our contact at Serious, who are producing the season, asks me whether Osie might be able to play at the unveiling of a statue of Ignacio Sancho at the Foreign Office. I've yet to ask him, but it sounds pretty exciting to me!
It's a beautiful day, and we have drinks on the terrace of the House of Commons. This being lunchtime, most people have orange juice or water. With a majority of black people (for once) and several of us in African dress, we probably confuse the passing tourists on boats, who are looking for lunching MPs. A woman from the Arts Council makes a very good speech about the role of art in public life. When she said she was going to Parliament to celebrate the Slavery anniversary, a friend had said "Yes, but why are you going?", as if the arts couldn't have anything to do with politics. She should read Julia Swindells' chapter in the Theatre and Slavery book when it comes out soon: it's really clear how theatre helped campaign against the slave trade two hundred years ago.