Fanshen, the play by David Hare he wrote about in the Saturday’s Guardian Review a couple of weeks ago, spoke directly to my experience when I went to see it at the Arts Centre in York in the mid 1970s. I was living in a political commune with other students and graduates, reading Althusser and Gramsci and trying to change my capitalist and patriarchal ideology. We all were. To us, the play explained how common sense was formed and how we needed to completely rethink our ideas and feelings if we were to challenge society. The play was about peasants in China undergoing Fanshen – it was in fact the time of the Cultural Revolution when unspeakable things were happening in China but we were trying to understand and enact complete change to our way of thinking. This meant that our commune would become somewhere where we could live revolutionary lives and not just do revolutionary acts. Hours and hours of reading theory, understanding the complexity of hegemony and how it is reproduced. Then we talked about the ways we needed to change deep within ourselves. Such zeal lead to one person having a break down, others having to leave the commune. Monogamy was bourgeois, so we started multiple relationships. They key to it all was honesty and talking things out. Endless meetings. There was no escape. You had to be vigilant against slipping back. What exciting times. So much brain work, sex, beer and politics. Seeing David Hare’s play helped us to feel we were the revolutionary vanguard in the new sense – we were living the dream. Cutting edge – nearly literally! Passion, intellect, class politics, feminism, we were at the forefront of it all and we were powered up. Nothing could stop us – until our own hearts and emotions could not keep up and started to crack and break…..