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Prima Facie and the importance of writing to living writers

Walked out of a movie theatre yesterday tingling with excitement and pleasure. I’d just seen the National Theatre Live’s presentation of Prima Facie, the film of a play about a brilliant, fierce young lawyer from a working class background, upended and nearly destroyed by sexual assault. She finds herself on the other side of the witness box and understands the unfairness of the law for the first time. It’s a one woman show, and the actress Jodie Comer is phenomenal. It’s a performance almost to rival Mark Rylance in Jerusalem, which remains the single most magnificent display of stagecraft I’ve seen in my very long life of theatre-going.

It’s shown in conjunction with a charity established by a female London barrister, which brings friendly lawyers and police into schools to talk with children about consent. Given what we’re learning about Hockey Canada and its slush fund to pay off women who’ve been assaulted by the players, not much has changed in our world. I understand why old men don’t get it; they were raised in a different era, when women were more or less property to do with as you wished. But young men? 

And let’s not even begin to think about what’s happening to women in the US, the force of the racist, sexist backlash. The American Taliban. 

On a happier note, someone I don’t know but see on screen in our Zoom dance party just wrote, I read Loose Woman several months ago and have been meaning to let you know how much I enjoyed it. Saw you in class today and decided not to put it off for another moment. I hadn’t thought about my time in Vancouver for decades and it was really special to read all about your experience working in the theatre there. Loved the whole book!!

Thank you so much!

On the same note, I too wrote to a writer I admire. Ian Leslie is a Brit who writes brilliantly about many things, including the Beatles. I discovered him years ago with his marvellous piece https://ianleslie.substack.com/p/64-reasons-to-celebrate-paul-mccartney?utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=email&utm_source=email   

He replied then to a fan note. When I found out he’s writing a book about the bond between John and Paul I couldn’t stop myself emailing to say how much I look forward to the book, how I’ve always thought in some pictures John looked at Paul, at least in the early days, with something like longing or even desire; how important their huge differences were to the music. 

But I thought, nothing here he doesn’t know, he doesn’t need your stupid two cents, and anyway, he’ll be put off by this over-eager Canadian fan girl. 

Here’s what Ian wrote back: Beth, this was such a lovely email to receive and read, thank you so much! You’re so right about those pictures, that gaze…you express it beautifully, it’s very helpful and encouraging to read.

Once again, here’s my rule: always write to your favourite writers, if they’re alive, to tell them what they mean to you. Writing is a lonely business, working in a void. How much it means to hear those appreciative voices. Friends, write to a writer today!

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5 Responses to “Prima Facie and the importance of writing to living writers”

  1. Anonymous says:

    A nice story about you and Ian Leslie!

  2. Chris Loranger says:

    Whoops, that anonymous comment was from moi.

  3. beth says:

    Hi my dear friend!

  4. Wow. Looks so powerful. I'm going to London in a few weeks and googled to see if it's an actual real play. It was. For one night only, last Thursday July 21st. "Justin Martin directs this solo tour de force, captured live from the intimate Harold Pinter Theatre in London’s West End." I'll definitely see the movie.

  5. beth says:

    It's a knockout, Juliet. Enjoy London, you lucky woman!

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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