Douglas Maxwell: 'Art is far more important and powerful than politics, and it does an infinite amount more good in people's lives'

Douglas Maxwell: 'Art is far more important and powerful than politics, and it does an infinite amount more good in people's lives'

credit: Michael Cranston

Writer discusses the themes behind his script for the Traverse's December show, I Can Go Anywhere

Perhaps resisting the temptation to offer an obviously seasonal production, the Traverse's December show, I Can Go Anywhere, is a typically bold script from Douglas Maxwell that speaks of immediate, contemporary concerns: the struggles faced by asylum seekers and the perennial cool of mod culture. Exploring the relationship between an ageing academic and an asylum seeker, I Can Go Anywhere is inspired, says Maxwell, by 'the anger I felt about how art is always bullied, patronised and overshadowed by politics.'

'I believe that art is far more important and powerful than politics, and it does an infinite amount more good in people's lives,' he explains. 'But when politics is talking, art has to shut up. And politics is always talking.'

When asylum seeker Jimmy is facing his substantive interview – that decides whether he is allowed to stay in the UK – he decides that academic Steve is the ideal partner to help him succeed. Immersed in mod culture – the working-class movement that has been at the heart of British youth culture since the 1960s – Jimmy identifies a 'Britishness' that is more than the recitation of historical details.

Maxwell's style – lively, witty and talking about serious ideas with a sense of fun and humour –promises to energise this unlikely partnership of fashion and social commentary, and with rising star Eve Nicol directing, Maxwell believes that the production will bring 'laughter, heartache, a fizzy idea or two … and that the intensity of the theatrical experience was worth coming out [for] on a cold night.'

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Sat 7–Sat 21 Dec.

I Can Go Anywhere

A big-hearted call-to-arms about solidarity in a hostile world, which follows the relationship between a disillusioned academic and an asylum seeker. Written by Douglas Maxwell and directed by Eve Nicol.

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