Documentary on the American author who wrote the Little House series
Where were you on 9/11? I’d popped into a Turkish minimarket in north London where I found the shopkeeper transfixed by the screen on the counter, watching endless replays of the planes flying into the Twin Towers. The news channels were playing and replaying the footage, as if to convince themselves it had really happened.
Events move so fast and theatre production so slowly that it is hard to stage topical drama. Sometimes, though, the news cycle and the repertoire blessedly coincide, as has happened with Matthew Campling’s The Secondary Victim.
A highlight of this fascinating documentary (26 November) was Frank Ormsby’s account of the phantasms that lay in wait for him throughout his working day.
Two composers separated by 450 years, but united in a common goal: to revitalise and refresh an ailing tradition of church music.
A BBC radio version of the novel in which Graham Greene was said by Evelyn Waugh to have recanted his faith.
May Morris' contribution to the Arts and Crafts movement celebrated.
Director Debbie Isitt talks about taking Nativity! The Musical on tour and recalls the dramas of her primary school's Christmas plays
In David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, Chicago real estate agents, including Christian Slater as a slick star salesman, compete to sell their souls and fantastical land-packages.
It's classic serial time on the BBC. This year it’s Howards End (12 November), directed by Hettie Macdonald and adapted from E.M. Forster’s novel by the American dramatist Kenneth Lonergan.
A bittersweet story of a Hollywood legend on her uppers.
An extraordinarily moving account of the Irish town that welcomed Syrian refugees.
From the outside, the new Tate St Ives looks exactly like the old Tate St Ives. Inside, though, it’s transformed; during its 18-month closure it has doubled in size, with a spend of £20 million. The jewel in its crown is the new 6,500sq ft gallery chiselled into the hillside …
Young Marx farcically depicts an 1850s London, in which Karl runs away from Keystone-like cops, pantingly arriving home to hide in a cupboard or up chimneys from police and debtors
George Orwell remembered as Martin Jennings' statue of the 1984 author is unveiled at the BBC's New Broadcasting House.
A new exhibition traces the development of the arts of Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam during the formative first millennium AD when their artistic identities were still fluid.
In Albion, his latest stage play, Mike Bartlett examines pre-Brexit England through the eyes of Chekhov.
Blue Planet II shows some more extraordinary, amazing, mind-boggling scenes from below the surface of the world’s oceans.
Cesare is long, usually heavily cut, and ETO promises to give us every note … but hearing the sensational young soprano Soraya Mafi (Cleopatra) singing “Se pietà” – sad, intricate polyphony of voice, strings and lowing bassoon, with the soprano spinning spine-tingling melismas in the upper air – is no hardship at all.
A programme bent on exposing the evils of brash self-assertion and overstating one’s case.
Slow radio, slow television and faith are a partnership made in heaven
Fans of Guadagnino’s earlier films I Am Love (2009) and A Bigger Splash (2015) will be properly excited.
Mel Brooks' remake of Young Frankenstein as a stage musical
A white woman goes undercover to learn about being Muslim
Stations of Water, St Paul’s Cathedral, London
An opera in church vestments
This was a coronation of sorts – but with anticipation so high, let-down was perhaps inevitable.
The show celebrates 20 years of the Bethlem Gallery, set up in 1997 to showcase the work of current and former patients and now housed in an imposing art deco building.
Work on this painstaking account of Britain’s efforts to “build decent social housing” over the past century and a half was well advanced before the Grenfell tragedy gave most of its underlying themes a dreadful contemporary focus.
The revival of Loot that marks five decades since the writer’s death is the first performance with all the blue-pencil marks erased. Even in its bowdlerised form, the drama was calculated to have many theatregoers’ eyebrows touching the auditorium roof.
Upstart Crow is another of Ben Elton’s funny forays into the foreign country of the past, where the great figures and events of history are thoroughly cut down to size.
Did he choose, or was he chosen? How far was Judas really responsible for his betrayal of Christ?
Theatre productions roughly divide between the kind that make the writer famous – new with original style or content – and those that encourage celebration of the director: surprising interpretations of well-known works.
In the wake of events at Charlottesville, Virginia, Kathryn Bigelow’s historical drama Detroit could hardly be more topical.
This starchy division between boyish and girly, between snails and puppy dogs’ tails and sugar and spice, is reinforced on social media, in films, books and by parents. I don’t remember it being like this when I was growing up in the 1970s: so what’s happened in the intervening years?
The story of the courtship between J.R.R. Tolkien and his wife-to-be, Edith Bratt, sounds like the plot of a Victorian novel – all enforced separations, grown-ups’ disapproval, and seething religious tension.
If the point of a portrait is to record a person’s outer appearance, then it seems pretty clear that the camera does the job quicker and better than a painter.
Autumn festival highlights
The Ben Uri's latest show comes out fighting on behalf of Polish-born artists who, apart from Sheffield’s Graves Gallery’s enterprising 2014 exhibition “Pole Position”, have been largely ignored by our public galleries.
Despite the huge popularity of his musicals, or possibly because of it, Andrew Lloyd Webber has been regarded as unfashionable for most of his career. As his seventieth birthday approaches, however, his works are in high demand.
For an A-grade English comedian, P.G. Wodehouse turns out to have spent remarkably little time in his native land. There were childhood stints in late-Victorian Hong Kong, with his colonial magistrate father, successful raids on Great War-era Broadway (where he married an actress) and 1920s Hollywood, followed by tax exile in 1930s France.
Since 2014, when the Festival coincided with the final run-up to the Scottish Independence referendum, making plays a part of the campaign, politics has become a special subject at Edinburgh.
Some ideas just seem so brilliant, so breathtakingly obvious, that you can only slap the forehead and wonder why they haven’t been standard practice for years. This was certainly my reaction while watching the first episode of Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds (1 August).
One of the tangential pleasures of opera-going is the insight it affords into how very, very bad nineteenth-century theatre must have been.
Julie Myerson once produced a book in which she attempted to track down everyone who had ever lived in her south London house. In the week-long series Door Stepping (31 July to 4 August), Jude Rogers had the equally bright, if slightly easier, idea of revisiting every home in which she herself had resided.
It seemed the God of Thunder was in town as an explosive timpani roar began both Proms at the weekend.
Here is an interesting question: does a Catholic upbringing produce more thoughtful conceptual art? Or is it because I am on the same wavelength that I think so?
Rights to life and death are regularly aired in court … Against such issues, the question of whether there is a human right to parenthood can seem self-indulgent and even minor – except, of course, to those who are unwillingly childless
The sudden death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in a car crash in a Paris tunnel, and the ensuing public outpouring of emotion seem, in hindsight, to be so strange as to be almost surreal. This documentary (24 July), marked 20 years since Diana’s death, and brought many memories back.
Film-maker Terence Davies once told me how as a teenager – Catholic, in the closet, terrified – he saw Victim … About 20 minutes into the story a police detective lets slip the word “homosexual”. As Davies recalled of the audience, “you could have heard a pin drop”.
Helen Edmundson’s title character, Anne Stuart (1665-1714), the daughter of James II, had a life unusually shaped by faith. As a young woman, her Protestant piety was much advertised in order to appease those who feared that her father’s monarchy was sliding back towards Rome: he framed, in 1687, an extended version of Charles II’s Declaration of Indulgence, which promoted tolerance towards Catholics and Dissenters.
The Beguiled, one of five movies made by director Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood, came out in 1971 … Sofia Coppola has transformed this material – a domestic horror movie – into something magical, part comedy of manners, part submerged fairytale.
A wild night opened the 123rd season of the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts – The Proms – with the host BBC Symphony Orchestra’s performance of the short, fresh, invigorating world premiere of St John’s Dance by 29-year-old British composer Tom Coult. The piece starts with a stutter in the strings then flings lightly at manic, constantly changing speeds and rhythms …
The “Soul of a Nation” exhibition, which opened last week at Tate Modern, offered Free Thinking (12 July) a welcome opportunity to explore some of the connections between black American art in the age of Eldridge Cleaver and Angela Davis and the UK’s very own late 1960s and 1970s Black Panther movement.
I Know Who You Are, a Spanish thriller set against the background of the legal and judicial system … is shaping up well … I don’t know much about how the Spanish legal system works but it still seems doubtful that a trial would go ahead when quite so many of the prosecution and defence lawyers, to say nothing of the defendant, were or had been sleeping with each other.
Recent events have challenged the British tendency to regard the story of Ireland as intractable, impenetrable and best left to those who have to live through it.
Can the world be saved? And is opera a sensible place to work out how? Richard Wagner would say yes to both.
Now in its fourteenth series, the many delights of Who Do You Think You Are? haven’t dimmed. A celebrity is taken back into the past by historians and genealogists to find out about their ancestors. There are always wild surprises …
The “Born in Bradford” (BiB) project began as long ago as 2007, when the founding cohort of expectant mothers was piped on board by one of the city’s antenatal clinics. Ten years later, there was a feeling that much of West Yorkshire had been turned into a giant research lab …
“We want to be experts in presence,” says founder of L’Arche Jean Vanier, halfway through Summer in the Forest. He is explaining the essential ethos of L’Arche’s 149 communities of people with learning disabilities in 37 countries: “We take time, and we waste time, to become who we are called to be.”
You would not think a dramatist could suffer for having written too many great plays. But because Arthur Miller left a quartet of masterpieces – The Crucible, A View from the Bridge, Death of a Salesman and All My Sons – there is little inclination to root around in the bottom of the drawer.
“Giovanni da Rimini: A 14th-Century Masterpiece Unveiled” (until 8 October) celebrates the donation to the gallery by Ronald S. Lauder that allowed it to acquire a devotional panel by the Riminese artist depicting Scenes from the Lives of the Virgin and Other Saints, which makes its first appearance in this Room 1 exhibition
Diane Keaton plays Emily, left broke and boiling mad by her feckless late husband. One day, spying through her binoculars, she spots Donald (Brendan Gleeson), long-time resident of a sylvan shack nestled in the woods. She goes in search of him, they meet and they – well, I think you know what’s coming.
Hilary Mantel has always written engagingly about her family’s history. Remembering her childhood in the memoir, Giving Up the Ghost, she noted that the relatives who referred to her as “Our ’ilary” had “aspirations but no aspirates”. The starring family member in the first of this year’s Reith Lectures (13 June) was her maternal great-grandmother, Katherine O’Shea, a mill worker from County Waterford …
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