On Tuesday night we took the students on our Dark Angels course to the theatre. We left our lofty perch and plummeted down the hill to Loch Ness, then drove five miles along the lochside to the Victorian community hall in the village of Drumnadrochit (population 813 and known by musicians of my acquaintance as Dropmadrumkit, though more famous as the home of competing Loch Ness Monster centres).
This was no mere amateur dramatics evening. The residents of north Loch Ness-side owe much to the indefatigable Jennie Macfie who, amid a slew of other activities, finds time to programme events at the Glen Urquhart Public Hall, putting on some of the best music and drama that comes to the Highlands. This week it was Six and A Tanner, a one-man show featuring the Glaswegian actor David Hayman, fresh from the Donmar Warehouse where he’d been appearing with Jude Law in Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie.
It was a searing, deeply moving, and at times hilarious portrayal of a Glaswegian man ranting at the coffin of his brutal, abusive father, written largely from personal experience by the actor’s friend Rony Bridges. David Hayman held us enthralled for fifty minutes with the power and magnetism of his performance and then, with scarcely a pause, took questions from us for a further forty minutes. As well as talking about the play and his craft, he told us about his work in Afghanistan for the charity, Spirit Aid, which he founded in 2001 to help children whose lives have been devastated by war, genocide, poverty or abuse. This is no celebrity posturing. I learnt afterwards that for several years until his charity gained official recognition, he used to go there illegally, in disguise, so that he could do the work he wanted to.
As we left it occurred to me that there was one question he hadn’t been asked but which would have been of interest to us all: how did his political activism and charity work, which seem to represent the greater purpose in his life, feed into his performances as an actor? The answer might possibly have been something to do with a strong sense of injustice, which was certainly present in the way he portrayed the relationship of the character with his dead father.
Purpose has been a recurring theme in our discussions this week. How can an organisation communicate authentically and effectively to any audience, internal or external, if it isn’t clear about its purpose? To say that the purpose is to make money for shareholders simply isn’t enough any longer. People want to know, quite reasonably, why the world would be a poorer place without it. Yet it’s a question many organisations seem incapable of answering; and then they wonder why they are in disarray. They could learn much from people like David Hayman, whose purpose seems to infuse every aspect of his thinking and being. In his stage performance and subsequent conversation with us he felt truly joined up. How many businesses or organisations can you think of that really feel that way?