Jeremy Goldstein, London theatre producer, writer and performer
...it really feels the city is on the cusp of greatness led by artists.
If you had to ask yourself, who has power over you and what would you like to say to them, how would you respond? Well, internationally renowned London theatre producer, writer and performer Jeremy Goldstein is asking you to do just that, but in front of a live audience. Whilst the thought of sharing your deepest, darkest thoughts to a room full of strangers might make you want to crawl into the foetal position, Truth to Power Cafe has been hailed raw, empowering and highlights the revolutionary potential of live theatre. The best part? It’s coming to the Gold Coast as part of Festival 2018 so if you’ve got something you want to get off your chest, here’s your chance! We caught up with Jeremy fresh off a flight to chat inspiration and first impressions.
You grew up in Sydney but travelled to the Gold Coast for the first time to do research for your project in Festival 2018, what were your first impressions of the city?
I was immediately struck by the quality of your light. Even in winter last July, the city basked in the warmth of its golden glow. I stood on the terrace of what was then called The Arts Centre Gold Coast (now HOTA) feeling I was back in Ibirapuera Park in Sao Paulo in Brazil. Few cities in the world can match that. It’s the definition of beauty.
While you were here did you get to meet any local artists or experience some of the coast’s arts culture?
The organising team behind Festival 2018 is second to none, so through them, I was lucky to meet a number of local artists, many of whom are being commissioned by Festival 2018. I also partook in a Young Artist Salon at HOTA. Returning as I have this week, it really feels the city is on the cusp of greatness led by artists. Not only do we have this spectacular world class arts festival to look forward to, but I’ve just heard Laurie Anderson is in residence at HOTA in June. It doesn’t get any better than that.
What impact do you think an international event like the Commonwealth Games will have on the Gold Coast’s creative industry in both the short and long term?
I think of the Games as a beginning or a means to an end, so what really matters is what comes next for the people who live here. Artists are among the soul and life blood of our cities so not only do they need nurturing, and space to show their work, but they also need decent and affordable housing. The gentrification of major cities around the world have seen artists, and those on lower incomes, pushed out because they can no longer afford the rents. Great cities thrive on diversity, and don’t just pander to those from privileged and wealthy backgrounds. Achieving this mix is about balance, but it’s also about choice and government policy prioritising people over profit. Standing up to big business takes a lot of guts, but through visioning an alternative, and an empathetic leadership, we can get there.
What are you most looking forward to about coming back for Festival 2018?
I love the heat, so having just arrived from the North Mountain of a British winter, I feel like Elsa coming in from the cold. Festivals to me have always been about bringing people together, so I’m most looking forward to meeting as many people as I can and persuading them to take part in my show Truth to Power Cafe. Between Surfers and Mudgeeraba we’re looking for 24 brave and courageous souls, and because the power of our show lies in our participants, I take great pride and joy in finding the right people. In the words of the great American gay rights activist Harvey Milk, I am here to recruit you!
For those who haven’t heard, can you tell us a little about your project Truth to Power Cafe?
The show itself is a love letter to the memory of my father Mick, and his friends of sixty years Henry Woolf and Harold Pinter. Their friendship changed the face of British theatre and Harold himself became the greatest English playwright of the 20th century. He won the Nobel Prize, and was to theatre what The Beatles were to music. The show is also a global platform for celebrating the power of free speech and political activism. During the course of the show I ask members of the public to respond to the question who has power over you and what do you want to say to them? before a live audience. Think of it as a call to self-expression, and an awakening of the great Australian hero in all of us.
It’s a fairly unusual concept, where did the inspiration come from?
Life. When my father died in 2014, I read in his obituary, his belief in speaking truth to power and the importance of an independent media. This prompted me to visit the British Library in London where I was able to read personal correspondence between Harold, Henry and Mick for the first time, as it’s all on public record now. It was through these letters, some of which were written in the 1950’s, that I got to know my father as a young man – the man I never knew. This had a profound effect on me, so I contacted Henry who is now 87 and the last one alive. As well as a great friend, Henry is a legendary poet, actor, and director who produced Pinter’s first play The Room in 1957, and went on to work with the likes of Orson Welles and Laurence Olivier, and appeared in the film The Rocky Horror Picture Show with Tim Curry. Henry and I would talk for hours about his friendships with my father and Harold, and from there, we developed an intergenerational collaboration from which the idea for the Truth to Power Cafe emerged. Henry has written poetry for the Cafe, some of which I’ve set to a deep house beat, which I perform in the show, so it’s great fun too.
So, we’ve got to ask, who has power over you and what do you want to say to them?
The person who had power over me was my father. It was an extremely difficult relationship, which Dad and I never reconciled, but through reading his letters in the British Library and my work with Henry, I found the courage to let it go, and move on. We celebrate this in the Cafe, so ultimately I like to think of the show as a chance to express your true self, become the person you’ve always wanted to be, and say what you’ve always wanted to say. The show captures that moment when the truth finally comes out, and there’s no turning back. It’s cathartic, thrilling, and something only live theatre can do.
Have you had a chance to check out the rest of the line-up yet? Is there anything you’re really excited to see?
Museum of the Moon by Luke Jerram. Bathing outdoors under a warm Surfers Paradise moonlight while listening to a surround-sound composition inspired by the moon sounds pretty spectacular to me. I can’t wait.
What does success mean to you?
Being intrinsically happy.
Who or what inspires you?
I draw a lot of inspiration from people, so it’s no wonder I want them to be in my show! Nevertheless, it takes a lot of courage, humility and trust from participants to be in the show and with that comes respect, so we document their experience in the form of a photo and caption and upload it to our site. Check it here. Bearing witness to their true stories is inspiring and an unbelievable privilege.
Any words of wisdom?
Know your limits and live within your means.
Truth to Power Cafe for Festival 2018 is now searching for participants of all ages, beliefs and backgrounds for performances in Surfers Paradise on April 9,10 and 11 and in Mudgeeraba for Bleach* Festival on April 14. To take part, sign up now. Events are free but we strongly advise booking tickets to guarantee your seat.