Coales' Notes: Broken hearts: Gordon Coales finds contemporary art taking second place to wounded feelings

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The Independent Culture
MONDAY: Today Juliet said she had something to tell me, in the strictest confidence. 'You know the Fiona and Alan thing? It seems to have finished.' She added that nobody else need know about this, because they had agreed to handle it in a totally professional manner. But I might as well know.

I feel that, on balance, this is probably for the best. But I have noticed no sign of Fiona in the Centre today.

Otherwise, I have been trying to hunt down somewhere or other to stay in Edinburgh during the festival. It has proved impossible, I am relieved to find. I will simply tell Rowena that there is no room at the inn, and we have to re-think the trip.

TUESDAY: Alan arrived in my office this afternoon with a very formal air. He produced a piece of paper, and said: 'Here is a piece of paper from which I shall read.' He then read: 'I would like to make a complaint about your deputy director, Fiona Lammel. I believe that she is unsuited to a position which involves her coming into contact with artists. During the last few months she has revealed that she is incapable of understanding the priorities of artists.' He assured me nevertheless that he valued his relationship with the Centre deeply, and that he was certainly not going to allow his forthcoming exhibition to be 'destroyed through the possibly medical problems of a single individual'. I said I hoped not, since it was now only three weeks off. He thanked me for my understanding.

There are still no signs of Fiona. Rowena was very disappointed by the Edinburgh news, and insisted that it was too soon to give up hope. The best thing is just to let it go off the boil.

WEDNESDAY: Fiona came in looking rather distrait, and said: 'So I gather you've seen the shit-bag.' I told her I didn't want to take sides, but there must be no feuding within the Centre. She said: 'Fine. But I would like you to be aware of one thing which I have gradually become aware of. He is not an artist. He is basically a spiv. And I think you should think very seriously before allowing him to exhibit in the Centre. That's all I'm going to say.'

I imagine Juliet can deal with Alan from here on, since it is really her job anyway.

Bob later appeared in a torrent of excitement. Did I realise who was to perform here on Friday night? Naturally I did not. He told me it was Invasion Theatre - had I heard of them? I thought the name seemed vaguely familiar, but he went on: 'No, Gordon, I promise you, you have not heard of them, you're probably thinking of Interference Theatre. Because nobody has heard of Invasion. This is the point. They are totally unheard of.' I remarked that this was surely quite a normal situation for a theatre company. But he said he would simply tell me what he had just been told by a colleague in Wales, who had seen them perform in a disused parcel depot, and whose judgement was infallible.

'They have been described to me as being like Theatre de Complicite - only about a hundred times more complicit, OK?' They normally refused to appear in theatres, so their appearance here was a unique event. They were about to take Edinburgh by storm. And their director, who was 'very young, and a woman', had been compared to 'a cross between the young Deborah Warner and the mature Peter Brook'. Apparently she would be in town tomorrow evening when he would be meeting her. He recommended I should join them.

He concluded: 'But anyway, write this down. Invasion. Sasha Finn. Edinburgh. '92. And of course, here first.'

THURSDAY: Today I received deputations from both Juliet and Pat, announcing that they too would find it impossible to work with Alan. Apparently Fiona has been passing on remarks which Alan had made about people in the Centre. I, on the other hand, am highly regarded.

I joined Bob at his meeting with Sasha Finn this evening. I took Rowena along, hoping it would be effective aversion therapy. She is annoyingly charismatic. In Edinbugh, she said, they would be performing in a disused swimming pool, one of the few remaining spaces in Edinburgh that had never been used as a theatre before. The performance would take place at the bottom of the almost empty pool. 'So we'll finally have both forces really working together - fire and water.' I asked what exactly she meant by fire? She said: 'Fire. I mean fire. Like this.' She lit a match, and held it up by way of an example. Bob said: 'Magic.' And I'm afraid Rowena was distinctly captivated also.

FRIDAY: I have had a long heart to heart with Alan who seems to have now fallen entirely into my hands. He now badly wants 'to do something which reflects the experience of the male as victim.'

Invasion have declined to perform at the Centre. They took a look at our theatre this afternoon, held a meeting, and decided that the space was 'insufficiently real'. Bob was very impressed by this behaviour, not withstanding the ticket refunds we were obliged to make. Unfortunately Rowena managed to catch up with Ms Finn before they moved off, and has somehow inveigled her into offering us room in the house they are using in Edinburgh. She is now busy circling things in the Fringe brochure.

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