I read this charming article about the history of the Bush Theatre this morning and was yet again amazed by all they have achieved and all they have stood for over the years, and all from a small room above a pub in possibly the noisiest, busiest corner of Shepherd's Bush (above O'Neill's on Shepherd's Bush Green). As the final curtain is prepared to close on the Bush Theatre's time on the Green, and they make their way stage north to Uxbridge Road, it was nice to see that they are marking the occasion with a book.
"Close-up Magic" celebrates 40 years of a theatre which launched the careers of many of the very finest playwrights, actors, directors and producers and in this book you hear their charming and hilarious personal stories about the Bush Theatre. But perhaps more importantly, and as the Guardian article discusses, the Bush Theatre was instrumental in challenging pre-conceived attitudes towards the theatre and it was at the forefront of delivering ground-breaking plays and productions which confronted modern social and cultural issues. The fact that this was all going on against the backdrop of Shepherd's Bush, an area that has changed dramatically (no pun intended) in the last four decades, isn't to be ignored or diminished; perhaps it was even a catalyst - it was the perfect stage (pun intended).
There are other parallels to be drawn between Shepherd's Bush and the Bush Theatre and the website for the book includes this telling quote: "The Bush (Theatre) hasn’t survived to be proud, or conventional, or safe. It survives to be loud, sometimes angry, and always loving. It’s time to acknowledge and celebrate those qualities." Those are qualities are would apply to Shepherd's Bush, wouldn't you?
If only I had a coffee table (as opposed to a suitcase and pile of clothes that won't fit in it) to proudly display this book. Let's hope they're not all sold out before I return next year.