What a treat to get to write an audio drama about William Blake, have it directed and co-developed by the vastly experienced Jeremy Mortimer, and performed by a top, top cast including Toby Jones and Kirsty Oswald. If you’re reading this before April 21 2016, it should still be online here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0742mq5
I have been thinking and writing about William Blake for some years now. It started when Chris Meade of http://www.ifbook.co.uk/ invited me to contribute to the ‘Songs of Imagination and Digitisation’ project. This led to a number of walks across London inspired by Blake, in the company of both friends, and strangers who became friends. See http://timwright.typepad.com/L_O_S/
In the radio play, I used my walking experiences to try and locate Blake directly in modern-day Lambeth. I wanted him to engage with a young person from the present day, and see what the two of them might make each other.
I also wanted to experiment with the idea that Blake might me using this ‘vision’ of the future to fuel his production of the 1794 works ‘The First Book of Urizen’ and ‘Songs of Experience’. The play starts with the first lines of ‘Urizen’ and ends with the last lines. A number of images from the book inspired various scenes - a figure flying in the clouds, a figure with a head of flame, Utha emerging from the water etc. Blake himself undergoes four scenes - or trials - by water, air, fire and earth.
Above all, though, I wanted to depict one night where two people, both a little bit lost, both in danger of very seriously going off the rails, both from Lambeth but from different eras, could perhaps help each other to look after themselves, respect and value themselves in order to survive in the energetic environment of South London.
I think this genuinely is the first thing I’ve written in over 20 years that does not have any kind of interactive or participative element - it’s a straight, linear drama. I hope you enjoy it. You can read a series of posts related to my ongoing obsession with Blake here: http://timwright.typepad.com/main/blake/