A few days ago I called Lozza Fox a cunt on twitter. I have no regrets. A passing comment on a friends comment I thought very little about having explained why I thought that on my own feed. Lozza Fox retweeted my comment and the absolute gates of Tory hell opened up on me. I'm not really arsed - I suspect a lot of them were bots. Others sharing his frustration at having their privilege challenged by people demanding that we treat each other better; over all it was a lot of personal insults about my appearance, my leftism... Whatever. I deleted it. Didn't read any more - life was fine. How ever I think there is a lot to learn from Lozza Fox and his cuntishness in how we make Art.
I'm not going to lay into Lozza Fox. I've worked with posh boys before and there's no good laying into them because no matter how close you hit to home you'll never get them to think that they're on the same level as you so won't ever take you seriously. For that kind of person they're immune to politics, immune to conversation, and immune to empathy - nothing really matter whens you have money, friends that also have money, and a family that will cover up for you when you fuck up. It breeds nihilism so there's no point. I think he's a cunt for what he's been saying and, more pressingly, how he carried on acting the next couple of days. But that doesn't matter; as one loving Lozza fan said "who the fuck is Luke Barnes?".
Lets move onto the more pressing issues at hand that we can learn from in the theatre. Firstly the most basic rule of life that we learn in primary school is that we respect other peoples feelings and experiences. If someone says to us they feel something we, in turn, listen and adjust our behaviour if we have been contributing to that. We have a responsibility to make life easier for those around us. If, as a middle class white abled body straight like Loz, a non-white woman tells us that they are experincing racism, they see it in Meghan Markle, then the last thing people like Lozza, who don't live with those struggles, need to do is say "no you're not, this is boring, actually no fuck it you're being racist to me by bringing it up". This attitude isn't limited to race. We have similar conversations DAILY about gender, sexuality, class...I feel like some progress is being made but, as I have to remind myself, some progress isn't enough when the journey isn't complete. The end goal is that Theatre is a place for everyone; we, at this point in time, are only acknowleding different types of people exist.
We have to think about identifying a goal (to make the theatre somewhere where everyone feels like they can speak and listen) and dismantle the things in the way of that goal (making sure that there is ground floor access for wheel chairs, programming an array of perspectives, paying enough money, organising creches, stand against fascist marches, call up misoginistic language etc...). It feels pretty straight forward but it is complex and we will get it wrong along the way. This a process; it'l take time; but by listening and learning hopefully we will have an end goal where theatre is for everyone. If you look at Midnight Movie great strides already being made. We just have to keep up the work.
We only grow as a theatre community if we can listen to people saying that institutional, personal, and social structures, attitudes, and actions are surpressing people feeling like they can speak, be heard, and listen in this community. We need to learn how we are personally, socially, and culturally fucking up if we, as a theatre community, want to grow. We do that by having a large array of people who exist in different circumstances in our development process and we have to activily ask the questions we as we work. They will be difficult. They will be inconvinient. They will be expensive... But the future of the art form depends on it. Without it the culture won't change with the culture of the UK and will just be for Loz Fox and his family.
Now what Lozza Fox has done is denied a problem, shamed someone for bringing it up and then told them to shut up. What he's done to his own brand, and what theatre will do to themselves if they carry on doing the same, is he's put up the fences and said "no one that's not like me allowed". It's the death of everything we hold dear if we cannot thrive together. Theatre will not survive if it doesn't listen to everything - it will just be Lozza Fox and his family in it for ever. Theatre, are in a real danger of this. It needs to let go of it's old servants. It needs to listen to the world it alienates. It needs to act quickly.
side note: The definition of racism, as I understand it, is acting to limit the freedom, liberty, and persuit of happiness of people from a different ethic background to you. He has done that. I need to say that. Denying a complaint
is the same as antagonising.
Part of this thinking is that if we should listen to everyone we should also do it with an open mind. We should assume the best in everyone. If we assume the best in everyone and we speak with empathy, compassion, and with a will to create a better world then we can ignore the egoists, dickheads, and self interested people because they won't help us share their goal. So lets assume that Lozza Fox went into answering that questions with in best possible excuse: naiviety and blinded by his own privilege. Assuming that (which is STILL a HUGE failing. It's a failing not to learn about your position in the world. Other peoples positions. How they intersect) what might have been the best course of action moving forward? For me it depends on the response he took; the response he got was either a big cheer from people on twitter Union Jack Emojis in their names or deep shame. Now shame is really fucking useful to individuals, the theatre community, and to Artists. Many time in my life have I said stupid shit on twitter and been called out for it. I still think about arguments I've had with Artists I've liked and respected. I think of stupid stuff I've done IRL that led me to being shamed for it publically. But shame is only USEFUL when it makes us reflect, learn, accept we take a punishment, adapt our behaviour, and join a more self less cause to rectify any damage done... and, most importantly, mean it. It means nothing if you don't mean it or if you just do it to get some work back. You have to lose privilege, lose work, lose status, and admit you fucked up... and change. There is no doubt that Lozza Fox will lose work for what he's done. The theatre industry is not ripe for posh white boys being racist... He should, the next day, have listened to what people we're saying, taken some time to reflect, and apologised. If he'd have done that this could have been a hugely important moment in repairing broken Britain. This could have set a moral standard for the Union Jack Emoji crowd; he could have set the behaviour pattern for listening... But instead he said
"water off a ducks back" and retweeted me (another white man) calling him a cunt. Look. We need to learn to be ok with shame as communities and Artists. We will fuck up. We will get things wrong. But only by listening, accepting we've done it, learning, growing, turning into positive action... can we ever achieve anything USEFUL as Artists or as Citizens. Shame has to become useful.
Finally I think his biggest failing is that he seems to be ignorant to the fact he exists in a bubble. A bubble in which he never experiences bad things because he's white and wealthy and posh and so when someone else says they do he says it can't be. Privilege is very intersectional. It's also very personal. We all feel massively like somethings about the circumstances of our existence hold us back and others set us free. We have to learn about our position in this world and what it is about us our privileges that allow us to have certain freedoms, safety, and allows us to persue our happiness. We have to learn about why others may not have the same privileges and how our privileges may stop someone else feeling safe in our buildings, companies, in our work.... Until we learn about our unique position in the world we can't begin to understand how other people feel in theirs. Until we learn about ourselves in the world how can we make Art? How can we run buildings? How can we manage companies? How can we do any job effectively? How can any company grow? It's on us to educate ourselves about ourselves, others, and how we impact the liberty, freedoms and persuit of happiness of others.
So what can we learn from Lozza Fox? Well the first thing is that we have to make our objective bigger than us: "how we make theatres a space for everyone". The second thing is we educate ourselves who we are and our position in the world. Thirdly: if people that live in different circumstances and perspectives to us say shit we listen and assume the best in them. Fourthly; is if we fuck up we own up, educate ourselves, accept the loses, correct ourselves and our communities behaviour, and then we work at making ourselves and our organisations better. Nothing will ever change by passing life by in a little bubble whilst ignoring the world around us. We will never make any impact on this world if we refuse to listen to it and learn about where we are in it. We are useful as citizens and as Artists if we, like Lozza Fox, bury our heads in the sand every time a difficult subject comes up - we can only grow as a community and a culture if we are prepared to fuck up, learn, and change ourselves and our organisations in order to be useful to everyone.... To make the theatre a place where everyone can be heard, speak, listen... Be seen and see. Once we've done that... Maybe we can think about having a conversation. But first things first; how do you set the table before the dinner party.