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Sarah Woods on imagination and “the crisis of what comes next”.

If it is true that we are living through a time in which our collective imagination is increasingly devalued and undernourished, what might be the role of story in that, and how might story be part of the remedy?  There are few better people to discuss this with than Sarah Woods.  Sarah is a writer across all media and her work has been produced by many companies including the RSC, Hampstead and the BBC.

Her opera ‘Wake’, composed by Giorgio Battistelli, opens in March, as does her play ‘Primary’, about the UK state education system. Alongside many other projects, she is currently writing the musical of the play she co-wrote with the late Heathcote Williams ‘The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency’, about squatting and DIY culture. Her play ‘Borderland’ just won the Tinniswood Award for best radio drama script of 2017.

Sarah is a Wales Green Hero, and her work is about, as she told me, “story wherever it’s most useful, across the board”.  I started by asking her the question I always ask in these interviews, but never as the first question.  If you had been elected as the Prime Minister at the next election and you had run on a programme of ‘Make Britain Imaginative Again’, what might be some of the things that you would announce in your first 100 days? 

“I would want for everybody to start looking at society and their lives as systems, which is about three things isn’t it?  Elements and interconnections and then the things that come out of that.  I suppose at the moment I feel that we’ve got a problem with the way that we’re relating to each other.  There’s a lot of division so that we’re in little boxes.

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