Monday, 21 November 2011

Bonnie Greer Opera Promises “All The Fun of Watching a 2 Year Old Question Time”

Two years after the broadcast of Question Time that featured BNP leader Nick Griffin, fellow panelist Bonnie Greer is finally caving to near-constant public pressure and translating the political debate into an opera.

Greer (OBE) the playwright, critic and fixture of those programmes you see on at midnight on BBC2 with a bunch of people in a semi-circle yaffling on about a new portrait of Wagner made of swastikas has translated the immortal spectacle of a racist being shouted at by Chris Huhne into what is scheduled to be a very long opera called Yes.

A man in desperate need of an opera dedicated to his appearances.

“The kind of people that go to a satrirical opera are exactly the kind of people who are susceptible to the dark nationalist rhetoric of the British National Party.” claims the Mississippi-born writer, “We’re not preaching to the converted, we’re challenging people to change the way they see the world. We’re out there in the trenches of BNP support; the theatre.”

The BBC faced opposition to the broadcast in October 2009 with many protesters actively picketing the Television Centre. Many were opposed to the views of the ominously reptilian Griffin but a large contingent felt that by allowing the broadcast of the views of the BNP was a repugnant and dangerous thing to do. When asked whether rehashing the debate in the Royal Opera House for forty quid a head could be construed as once more invoking the name of the most hated frogdwarf in Britain to get more attention, Greer is adamant.

“This isn’t about sensationalism. this is about asking tough questions of the audience like what are the limits of free speech? what is racism? Do you remember the last time lots of people saw me on telly? Is it possible to be poncy enough to make people hate someone arguing against a racist?”

Many agree that Griffin’s performance on the programme- which fell somewhere between one of those ‘I’m not racist but-’ people, a drowning clown and Doctor Strangelove- did enough to damage his own credibility. His statements regarding ‘non violent’ ku klux klan leaders, his many fabricated Churchill quotes and his repetitious insistence that he’s a ‘reggae aficionado’ were seen as an embarrassment even by members of his own party..

Despite this Greer feels that the epoch-making debate, like so many late night political panel discussions, needs to be recreated with singers and an orchestra and a conductor; “I’m really proud to be part of this very necessary thing.”

Yes opens at the Royal Opera House on October 22nd and you can probably get tickets free in the Guardian.

Felix Prenderghast,
Senior Features Correspondent

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