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The Impossible Book

Peter Blegvad's drama about a writer beset by hallucinations on a train travelling through time as well as space, and between parallel realities.

Peter Blegvad's radiophonic drama concerns a writer beset by hallucinations on a train travelling through time as well as space, and between parallel realities.

The piece engages with the question 'who has the right to write?', and how might that right be earned? In totalitarian regimes writers are denied freedom of expression, but individually writers often inhibit or censor themselves, feeling that their words lack value or authority.

As William Burroughs put it: "You pay or you get nothing. You can't dodge the Muse's check. The Muse don't like welshers. A writer becomes a writer by PAYING..." But Blegvad's writer seems to be writing/riding for free, gratis. He's hiding on the train without a ticket. The penalty he risks if caught is "rendition to another zone/where due process is unknown" - a terrifying prospect.

He's on the run from the authorities - the Conductor played by Andy Partridge of XTC and the Sheriff played by David Thomas of Père Ubu. The two legendary musicians contribute memorable comic cameos. The piece ends when Blegvad's 'free writer' is awarded a dubious accolade by Agatha Christie, played by Harriet Walter.

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45 minutes

Music Played

  • Steve Reich

    Different Trains (America, Before the War)

    Ensemble: Kronos Quartet.
    • NONESUCH.
  • Steve Reich

    Clapping Music

    Performer: Steve Reich. Performer: David Cossin.

Credits

Role Contributor
Writer Peter Blegvad
The free rider/writer Peter Blegvad
Agatha Christie Harriet Walter
The conductor Andy Partridge
The sheriff David Thomas
The passenger John Guerrasio
Charles Aldo Waterfield
Charles's mum Sophie Duval

Broadcast

Binaural sound

Binaural sound

What is it and why does it matter?

Podcast