Young adults and the meaning of life

Should you scramble for cash, like a coke-fuelled commodities broker, or drift along like a hippie?

AT THIS time of the year, when thousands of bright-eyed young folk, full of optimism and lager, are graduating from their places of study, it is traditional for members of an older generation to contribute a few words of simple yet oddly memorable advice, a sort of spiritual road map for the long journey ahead.

Last year, my thoughts went out to teenagers who had received dodgy A- level results, consoling them that, however they had done, their souls were beautiful, and that their parents were more proud of them than they were currently able to express. A version of this meditation will shortly be appearing in the Reader's Digest, a career peak which I long to emulate with my advice for those coming down from university.

The spoof graduation address, of course, has been done by the ridiculous woman from Chicago who wrote a semi-ironic piece about flossing your teeth and looking after your knees which was subsequently put to music. It would be foolish to deny that, like most columnists (with the possible exception of Paul Johnson), I suffered a pang of jealousy when Sunscreen, or whatever it was called, became one of the relatively few newspaper columns to reach the top of the charts.

But it's the advice to the newly adult that is the problem. They are about to emerge from the cocoon of education, more or less grown-up, slightly qualified, but still confused. What should they do now? Fall in love sharpish, to get their hearts good and callused for the long haul ahead? Grab as much meaningless sex as possible, before the ghost of commitment has them in its thrall? Scramble for cash, like a coke-fuelled Eighties commodities broker, and risk ending up an exhausted has-been at the age of 30? Or drift along, taking time to smell the flowers, like a Sixties hippie, and risk missing so many buses that in the end the point of the journey will have been forgotten?

As a long-time member of the bus-missing community, I have always favoured the gradualist approach, trusting that, if you played it cool, your future would somehow find you, introducing itself like a beautiful new friend at a party.

Now I'm not so sure. I've been reading Ford Madox Ford, whose advice, based on his own hilariously busy life, was "Work yourself all out, to the limit of your passion for activities. Then take what you get for it." Coincidentally, a new production in Battersea of the classic Jewish play The Dybbuk has reminded me of a late friend, and cousin by marriage, whose short life was a testament to the wisdom of Ford's advice.

James Menzies-Kitchin died three years ago, at the age of 28. A bright, dynamic man, charming but with a will of steel, he lived for the theatre and during his mid-twenties established himself as one of the most promising directors of his generation. His death from heart failure was sudden and unexpected.

In memory of James, a trust was established, aimed at providing an opportunity for a young, untried director to bring a classical work to the stage. A bursary is provided, underwriting the cost of production, and the recipient's production is put on for a three-week run at the Battersea Arts Centre.

This is not amateur hour, by any means. Of the shortlist of eight directors who spent a weekend of workshops and interviews at the Battersea Arts Centre prior to a final decision being made, three, including the winner, have subsequently been commissioned to put on productions in London. Last year's runner-up, Simon Godwin, is currently staging Eurydice at the Whitehall Theatre.

This year's winner, Mark Rosenblatt, was aiming particularly high. His proposal was to put on S Anski's complex and intense exploration of mysticism, sin and the supernatural within an ultra-orthodox Jewish community, an epic story of love and betrayal, with a cast of 12, plus three musicians, playing a score commissioned for the production - all in a studio theatre in Battersea. It should perhaps be mentioned at this point that the director is 21.

The result, for me, was spellbinding, a truly remarkable evening of theatre, in which the heat of the summer evening was forgotten and the limitations of the space were turned to advantage. Part religious meditation and part ghost story, The Dybbuk emerges as an unexpected, searing romance, in which the two doomed lovers are played with mesmerising intensity by Sally Hawkins and Luke de Lacey.

Maybe Mr Rosenblatt, Miss Hawkins, Mr de Lacey and the rest are not taking time to smell the flowers. But those who doubt the wisdom of working themselves to the limit of their passions should give themselves a treat, and take a trip down to the Battersea Arts Centre this month.

Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl

First look at Oscar winner as transgender artistfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month

TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel

film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island

Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey


Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower