Nostalgia: a sentiment for our times
When I was writing Home, I’m Darling I was interested to find out that the original etymology of ‘nostalgia’ had the idea of ‘home’ in it – the word is a compound of the Greek for ‘homecoming’ and ‘pain’, and was originally coined to describe the longing for home felt by soldiers fighting far away from loved ones and family.
We’ve now come to associate the word more with a yearning for the past – the ‘good old days’ that we look at through rose-tinted glasses – but it feels apt for this play that the idea of home exists somewhere in the DNA of nostalgia, and that ‘home’ is a concept that contains both place and time.
In the play, Judy feels nostalgia for a time before she was born, which is something I felt curious about – what is it like always feeling at odds with the world, never quite fitting in and yearning for those good old days, despite never having lived through them? And how possible is it to retreat into a life built from nostalgia, when the modern world is so noisy, frenetic and intrusive?
We’ve all lived a forced version of that retreat this past year, and perhaps we’ve had more time inside our homes than we’d have liked. Time has taken on new, strange qualities, but we’ve also had a small insight into what it might be like to be Judy, cocooned inside her house, trying to keep the outside world at bay.
Being able to go to the theatre again after this period of shutdown has felt to me like a kind of homecoming. I hope it feels like that for you too. May this be the first of many times we meet, huddled (not too close!) around a kind of hearth together, ready to hear a story, feeling at home.
You can catch a performance of Home I’m Darling until Sat 30 October. Click here for more details.