Richard has posted his annual Christmas message on Facebook:
What a year 2016 has been. So many people we have lost; Bowie, Cohen, Prince, Fidel Castro, Shimon Peres, Nancy Regan, Tom Hayden, Muhammad Ali, Gary Marshall, Edward Albee, Peter Schaffer, Gene Wilder, Alan Rickman.
(I actually started with just one name but then I remembered all the others) Brexit happened, and Trump became the president elect of the US. Earthquakes rumbling around the ‘Ring of Fire’ . Yes there is a literal and symbolic shift happening in our world, our social and our physical.
I started this year in Berlin, filming the second half of our series ‘Berlin Station’ which has now just finished airing, during that time I visited a refugee centre in Spandau. It was a humbling experience. I witnessed how, beyond the drama of the news cycle, on a moment to moment basis, families in need were being helped and housed, by German ‘families’. Simple folk, volunteers, putting their fear aside and stepping up to help our fellow men in need.
What has been happening Aleppo, is almost beyond comprehension, genocide on a scale not seen since the Shrebrenica massacre during the Bosnian war.
Our leaders no longer seem to value the truth, rhetoric designed merely to ‘bag a win’ at any cost is the new normal, even if that means dividing nations; pitting neighbours against each other; by country, by state/county, even to the person next door.
It hasn’t been a great year in terms of honour and grace, it has been a year of hubris and loss. Don’t get me wrong, there were “Wins” (and I respect and congratulate those who made those choices) but I believe they came at a price yet to be understood.
On a personal level, I met a group of people in New York, working at the Roundabout Theatre Company on Mike Bartletts ‘Love Love Love’ directed by Michael Mayer. It was a ‘diamond in the rough’. It began on my birthday during a heatwave and ended with snowfall as we approach the years end. It was a tonic in every way, because our audiences gathered and heard a story told about people, about parenting, about generations and the society that supports them.
We are very lucky to live in a society that supports us, even if we feel it is failing us, we mustn’t lower our expectations but we do need to take stock and just face the reality of millions of displaced people, who’s society not only has failed them, it is inflicting genocide on them.
So as we gather ourselves with our families, in our warm homes, with food on the table, I just can’t help but ask that we say thank you. That’s what I intend to do.
I am very privileged, I have success and security. I am lucky man, I don’t really know how to ask for this but I’m going to ask for something that I want for myself in 2017. I want to be fearless. To live without fear. To not fear my neighbour, to extend myself towards my fellow man. What else do we have but the ability to do this, and yes it’s ‘easy for me to say this ‘ in my comfortable place, but there is a narrative of fear out there, which we must resist, or accept isolation and division.
A friend of mine (shall remain nameless) recently suffered a devastating painful loss, but with family, loved ones and friends pulled themselves up, and exhibited the kind of bravery that was nothing less than humbling.
So let’s celebrate what we have. Let’s be thankful for our humanity and our ability to empathize and help those in need. Doesn’t have to be money, it can be your time, it can literally be just a helping hand. Here is a link to my Just Giving pages.
Happy Christmas everyone.
(NB. Castro was also named here without fear. Not an endorsement, just a name that is noteworthy….sigh.)