Alan and I founded Red Mole Enterprises in 1974.
Alan’s scripts led performers into a theatrical world of daring and mystery
and such great beauty, they would become delirious with excitement and commit
everything to the work. Alan made magic even with subjects as unlikely as the
history of the New Zealand Labour Party. We first performed his Comrade
Savage at the Newtown Community Centre in 1989. The writing was so
powerful that even after weeks of rehearsals, the actors still wept every
night in many scenes – as Karl Marx danced Joe’s mother to heaven, as we
chanted All things we ask for all the people pulling wooden carts with
tiny figures, when Harriet said adieu to her comrade Joe, Mr Prime Minister
now, in the empty dining-room at Parliament, or at their meeting (entirely
invented by Alan, there was no record of this event) years later in the
outback at a station, he with flowers pleading, then dying on his hard bed
waiting for the light to announce he has won back the caucus . . .
but the lines we spoke at the end of the play, marching with our drums
through the swinging doors and into the street, tore us apart. These are lines
written by a master:
PHUT And what did he leave us? Anything at all?
CROWD He left us a voice.
PHAT / PHUT The sound of ourselves.
CROWD For the first time.
PHAT For the first time we made the sound of ourselves.
CROWD What can we say? What can we do?
PHUT Fall! We must fall!
CROWD Together. Fall together.
PHAT Fall into step!
CROWD In step together. Ever and ever.
PHAT So long.
PHAT drums. CROWD,
disperses. A single light blinks. PHUT and PHAT get close to it.
PHAT Think we’ll ever see his like again.
PHUT Never. There was only one. Then it broke. The vessel that brought him here.
PHAT What’s left for us?
PHUT The light.
PHAT Oh, kindly light.
PHUT Lead us.
PHAT Yes. Lead us, kindly light.
Dearest Alan, you are a brilliant light. We are shaken
with grief now. You filled my life with inspiration. You gave our daughter
Ruby joy and laughter, and a passion for writing. I loved you. Every moment of
our life together, I loved you. Now my heart is broken. But your voice still
rings out through the windows and doors of this house, down the street to the
Bay, to the island and indigo sea, around The Esplanade and up The Parade and
across the valley and over the Makara hills – whoosh! – shouting
out to the evening star, to the rising moon and the night sky and the whole
universe – the show is about to begin! You enter the immense theatre, the
audience is ready to fly, you start as always, strong and urgent: Let me
speak I have something to say. And we listen. Breathless. Enchanted.
New York City, 1981