The 8th Myth and Theatre Festival
July 5- 9, 2000
Workshops : June 28 - July 9 (12 days), and July 3 - 9 (7 days)

The Sensational Report
The Gossip Scandal

The Festival hits the NEWS thanks to the Ken Follet / Toni Blair Gossip Scandal !!

The editorial in
The Independent

extracts below

check July 3rd on

The debate on gossip in
The Guardian

involving Sonu Shamdasani (against gossip)

The Sensational Report

The choice of "Gossip", an apparently minor theme, for the Myth and Theatre Festival in Ireland paid off fully: we had exceptional presentations, exchanges of ideas, and theatre work. Re-imagining gossip opened back doors and keyholes, challenged priorities and insights, and encouraged an imaginal mobility that major themes and figures often stiffle. It also inspired the theatre work (especially the workshop on "Imp-Pertinence") and cast an inspiring side light on the enterprise of dramaturgy.

There was also a major-minor event which vindicated in its way our choice of "Gossip".

British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was involved in a mini-scandal - media-fodder in what is called the "silly season" (early summer). On July 2nd , one of the main supporters of New Labour’s ‘new socialism’, entrepreneur millionnaire Ken Follet, went public with a bitter attack against Mr. Blair and his cabinet, describing them as a clique of back-biting gossipers.

July 3rd , together with this scandal’s headlines, Associated Press released an announcement for the 8th Myth and Theatre Festival "On Gossip" at Waterford, Ireland. Journalists pounced on the coincidence and our Festival was all over the news! The Independent published a main editorial - "Word in your ear" - that started: "Meanwhile, Ken Follet, Alaistair Campbell, Peter Mandelson and Tony Blair should attend this week’s conference on gossip and small talk in Waterford, Ireland. Mr Follet may hold a workshop on how Mr. Blair has made "malicious gossip an everyday tool of modern British government". The article went on to describe a fantasy festival, involving even the Queen! (See full article below).

The newsmedia rush for hot gossip somehow turned us into the world’s greatest specialists on gossip... Nor Hall and I gave some ten interviews each! Sonu Shamdasani was transformed into "a psychologist, the world’s specialist on gossip"! Sonu and I did engage in a "For or Against Gossip" debate; in the Festival's Gossip Column on Gossip I had written that "some of us, who consider Sonu to be the greatest historian of psychology today, (certainly on C.G.Jung), have called him "a professional of gossip". The Guardian invited him to enter a "For or Against Gossip" debate, which you can still check online at,2763,340864,00.html. News went round the world: New Zealand friends heard about it on the radio, while on holiday in New Caledonia... Etcetera!

Enrique Pardo, July 14, 2000

The Independent July 3, 2000

Front Page "Labour hits back over Follet 'rant' - "...Mr Follet had launched a scathing personal attack on the Prime Minister in which he accused Mr Blair of approving sniping by his spin doctors at his own ministers. He blamed Mr Blair for what he called "unmanly and cowardly" briefings to the press against ministers, including Mo Maowlaam, the cabinet co-ordinator. He described the spin doctors responsable for the "malicious gossip" as the "rent boys of politics..."

Page 5 / Home News "Gossips gather in Ireland for first festival of idle chit-chat" - "...At what is apparently the first festival of its kind in the world, an international cast of contributors will spend their time in the land of blarney talking about chatting... "

Page 3 - Editorial Page

Main Editorial : "Ken Follet's attack may be unfair, but Mr Blair's honesty is only spin-deep"

3rd Editorial (full article) : "Word in your ear"
"Meanwhile, Ken Follet, Alastair Campbell, Peter Mandelson and Tony Blair should attend this week's conference on gossip and small talk in Waterford, Ireland. Mr Follet may hold a workshop on how Mr Blair has made "malicious gossip an everyday tool of modern British government".
Mr Campbell and Mr Mandelson could hold a session on doubly-deniable, deep-background rubbishing, with overhead slides. There could be workshops on the backhanded compliment: "How very brave!" On the killing small talk: "Have I told you about my loft extension?" There could be a presentation of subjects to avoid when introduced to the Queen: the conditions for joining the euro being chief among them. There could be a plenary session on what everyone's next-door neighbour was doing yesturday.
And the proceedings would all be fully and fairly reported by the press - which is, after all, merely the art of gossip turned into a commercial proposition."

Cartoon by Schrank : Mr Blair and Mr Mandelson with aprons on, hanging underwear and other dirty linen on the washing line in their neighbouring backyards. Mr Follet, in the foreground, points back at them saying: "How unmanly!!"

Check also "A Panic Chronicle" - Pantheatre's 20th Anniversary and Summer of 2000 (a brief article by Enrique Pardo with some gossip on Pan, panic and Pantheatre)



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