Learning on the job Premium

20 October 2016 | by Dorothy Lepkowska
The Government is being urged to consider a new apprenticeship scheme in an effort to solve the recruitment crisis in teaching, as Dorothy Lepkowska reports

Not quite reality TV Premium

20 October 2016 | by Peter Stanford
At first glance the publicity material for The Young Pope (starts 27 October with a double episode) does not inspire much confidence; it is that word “young” that jars. Lenny Belardo, played by Jude Law, is a 47-year-old American cardinal who is an unknown whippersnapper going into the papal conclave, but emerges as Pope Pius XIII.

God vibrations Premium

20 October 2016 | by Annabel Miller
It is not often that a rock concert begins with a prayer, but that is how former Beach Boy Brian Wilson has opened the shows on his current tour, which will come to an end in the UK next week (28 October) with a final extravaganza at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

A bit of posh Premium

20 October 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
Radio 3’s seventieth anniversary bash – to be accurate, its celebration of the founding of its predecessor, the Third Programme – began at the end of September.

Timeless conceit Premium

20 October 2016 | by Mark Lawson
The play by another dramatist that Alan Bennett would most like to have written, he told me in a recent interview, is J.B. Priestley’s When We Are Married. Bennett, who admits to finding story difficult, admires the 1938 comedy for its “perfect plot” and the representations, close to his heart, of Yorkshire character and speech.

Maternal agony Premium

20 October 2016 | by Rick Jones
The thirteenth-century monk who wrote the Latin poem Stabat Mater Dolorosa about Christ’s grieving mother (and therefore all grieving mothers) is loved, it seems, as never before. Sir James MacMillan’s setting of his rhythmic rhyme, premiered last Saturday at the Barbican, is the fitting conclusion to an imaginative set of five commissioned over the past three years by the Genesis Foundation.

To the Western Church, the Eastern Church has always seemed richly exotic, with its glittering mosaics, gilded iconostases and gleaming chandeliers – but it has traditionally reserved lavish decoration for its church interiors rather than its vestments. In 1274, when Pope Gregory X convened the Second Council of Lyons in an attempt to reunite the two Churches, the papal Curia’s extravagant taste in liturgical dress was a sticking point.

Cutting-edge Beckett Premium

12 October 2016 | by Mark Lawson
Samuel Beckett wrote 22 stage plays, the extreme infrequency and brevity of the later works suggesting that he felt he had done enough in theatre. In the modern fashion, though, there has been a posthumous attempt to expand his dramatic output.

Loathing in the name of God Premium

12 October 2016 | by Madeleine Bunting
America is so large and various that it is not difficult to find extremists there. British documentary makers have lived off them for years.

Love changes everything Premium

12 October 2016 | by Robert Thicknesse
On the face of it, Gaetano Donizetti’s jovial 1832 comedy is simple to the point of idiocy: rustic fancies chilly rich girl; she prefers moustachioed soldier; rustic buys “love potion” from dodgy travelling salesman; takes it – gets tiddly (it’s just wine), and his new Dutch courage wins him the girl.

Hoarder in the house Premium

12 October 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
The opening instalment of this characteristically intelligent series (10-14 October) found presenter Matthew Sweet in animated conversation with a woman from Pontypridd called Sinead.

It’s behind you! Premium

06 October 2016 | by Anthony Quinn
Had a Hollywood screenwriter and a sci-fi nut got together to invent a religion based on celebrity endorsements, abstruse hierarchies and personal cash donations, it might look a lot like the Church of Scientology.

Hanging out the family washing Premium

06 October 2016 | by Mark Lawson
The relentlessly autobiographical author Philip Roth proposed the view that “when a writer comes into a family, the family dies”. The murder, Roth meant, came from the writer’s need to see memories and secrets as material.

Madonna, the movie Premium

06 October 2016 | by Laura Gascoigne
Bill Viola’s two altarpieces for St Paul’s have had a long gestation. The idea of commissioning a pair of works for the cathedral’s quire aisles was first conceived during the artist’s National Gallery exhibition, “The Passions”, in 2003, but the first of the two, Martyrs (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) was not installed until 2014 and the second, Mary, was only unveiled last month on the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Joy of an imperfect world Premium

06 October 2016 | by Madeleine Bunting
In A World Without Down’s Syndrome? (5 October), the comedy actress Sally Phillips told us that nine out of 10 British women now terminate their pregnancies when they are told their babies are likely to have the genetic condition. Ignoring the question of abortion itself, she asked what this prenatal selection means for society.

Notes of discord Premium

06 October 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
On paper, the chances of the famously right-wing newspaper columnist Richard Littlejohn helming a feature about protest songs seemed about as plausible as Rowan Williams fronting an investigation into Aleister Crowley’s activities on Cefalù.

Love’s disdain for boundaries Premium

29 September 2016 | by Robert Thicknesse
A Druid chief-priestess sworn to chastity, a torrid carry-on with an occupying Roman general, illicit children (and attempted infanticide), a love-tussle with a junior priestess, a Roman intruder discovered “in the virgin novices’ cloister” … Norma (to 8 October) has a plot that can raise a wintry smile.

Race wars Premium

29 September 2016 | by Mark Lawson
For reasons possibly due to the similar cultural and imperial ambitions of the civilisations centred on Athens and Washington, American dramatists have often looked to Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles as their tutelary gods. Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra and Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge are conscious attempts to relocate the House of Atreus to the United States.

Contrasting notes Premium

29 September 2016 | by Rick Jones
The Verdi Requiem that ended this year’s Proms (before the Last Night high jinks) also began the London Symphony Orchestra’s new season at the Barbican.

Unseen epidemic Premium

29 September 2016 | by John Morrish
Out of sight, out of mind: that has been the fate of BBC3 since February, when it ceased to broadcast over the airwaves and became solely an online channel.

Elf ’n’ safety Premium

29 September 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
The writer Ian Sansom began his quest for what the BBC website rather coyly termed “diminutive supernatural beings” on the southern bank of Carlingford Lough on the Eire side of the Irish border.

A rebel for his times Premium

22 September 2016 | by Robert Thicknesse
Opera is full to the brim of single-minded transgressors, doing the forbidden thing in order to explore on our behalf what it means to be human. But none is more dedicated to his chosen path than Don Giovanni.

Inside out Premium

22 September 2016 | by Laura Gascoigne
Nottingham University’s Djanogly Gallery has a history of staging thought-provoking exhibitions. In 2010 it hosted “Prayer”, a sound installation by South African artist James Webb that wove a vocal tapestry from prayers recorded across the city’s multi-faith communities.

Beyond the dolce vita Premium

22 September 2016 | by John Morrish
This week brought us a short Italian season from Sky Arts, with a mix of history, art history, music and literature: programmes looked at Casanova, La Scala, Artemisia Gentileschi, Raphael and a more recent cultural treasure, the actress Claudia Cardinale.

Money, money, money Premium

22 September 2016 | by Mark Lawson
In her first two full-length plays, young dramatist Beth Steel has explored the extremities of the capitalist system. After a detailed reconstruction of the 1984 miners’ strike above and below ground in Wonderland, which won her the London Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright award, she now, in Labyrinth, explores the dangerously avaricious expansion of international banking in the period 1978-82.

No end of fun Premium

22 September 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
As one who had recently to attend to a scathing teatime critique of Plato’s theory of perfectibility, courtesy of a philosophy-studying son, I sat down before the first instalment of Adrian Moore’s new 10-parter (19 September) with more than usual interest.

For the pure love of it Premium

15 September 2016 | by Laura Gascoigne
Twenty years ago, when I was editing an art magazine, we commissioned an artist to tout his portfolio around West End galleries and report on the experience. The article appeared under the title “Nightmare on Cork Street”, only a slight exaggeration of the feelings of rejection our guinea pig suffered.

When Christ met Caesar Premium

15 September 2016 | by Mark Lawson
In an instructive coincidence, the cinematic remake of Ben-Hur appears alongside another speculative variation on the life of Christ. John Wolfson, curator of rare books at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, has adapted his radio play constructing a fascinating what-if around the Crucifixion.

Unanswered questions on 9/11 Premium

15 September 2016 | by John Morrish
Some years ago, an old friend, a building engineer by profession, pressed upon me a home-made CD-ROM and urged me, as a journalist, to do something with it. It was, he explained, full of documents proving that the Twin Towers were brought down by controlled explosions and not by the impact of a couple of airliners full of aviation fuel.

Borchester in the dock Premium

15 September 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
Like the antique fountain pen that has had three new nibs and two new handles, The Archers has the enviable knack of seeming constantly to change its appearance while remaining fundamentally the same.

Out of the depths they cry Premium

08 September 2016 | by Joanna Moorhead
Arched windows and high, vaulted ceilings give Reading prison a distinctly churchy feel, which is unsurprising, given that it was designed by the high priest of Victorian ecclesiastical architecture, George Gilbert Scott. But what’s less predictable is the prison’s deeply spiritual aura, as evinced by a new exhibition called, appropriately enough, “Inside” (to 30 October).

Don’t clap too loudly Premium

08 September 2016 | by Mark Lawson
John Osborne’s (1929-94) fame came from the perception that he changed English theatre, but the posthumous decline of his reputation can be attributed to a feeling that the medium had changed again.

Conductor’s countdown Premium

08 September 2016 | by Rick Jones
The first of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra’s two Proms with retiring chief conductor Sir Simon Rattle (Prom 64) took an exhilarating journey from contemporary realisation to classic reinterpretation as this year’s Proms nears its close.

History made personal Premium

08 September 2016 | by Laura Gascoigne
Public remembrance is a difficult notion: how do you remember an event you have not experienced? The First World War Centenary has produced a range of artistic solutions, notably Paul Cummins’ and Tom Piper’s ceramic poppy installation at the Tower of London, a vivid public testament to the sheer number of lives lost.

Unearthing the garden Premium

08 September 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
Who was Paul Howard-Jones, you wondered, as the first of In Search of Eden’s five episodes (5-9 September) broke upon the airwaves with a sonorous recitation from the Book of Genesis?

Action speaks louder Premium

01 September 2016 | by Anthony Quinn
Ben-Hur has had mixed fortunes in the cinema. From the beginning the story of a Jewish prince’s conflict with the Roman Empire caught the popular imagination when first published as a novel by Lew Wallace under the title Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ in 1880, and it was first filmed as a silent short in 1907.

Bomb’s bitter legacy Premium

01 September 2016 | by John Morrish
Old family cine films and faded photographs are the documentary maker’s short cut to the emotions. And it was there that The Good Terrorist (27 August) chose to start, inviting us to mourn the young John Harris, who would go on to be hanged in 1965 after leaving a bomb in Johannesburg’s railway station.

Favourites to the fore Premium

01 September 2016 | by Rick Jones
The second half of the Proms sees a proliferation of foreign orchestras, with the August Bank Holiday graced by the Budapest Festival Orchestra under founder-conductor Iván Fischer and a programme of Mozart in 1791, his last year of life.

Immaculate misconceptions Premium

01 September 2016 | by Mark Lawson
Australian writer-director Simon Stone’s trademark is updating classic plays to have the feel of a contemporary police procedural. His translation of Ibsen’s The Wild Duck to present-day Australia was seen at the Barbican in 2014, and has recently been released as a movie, starring Geoffrey Rush, called The Daughter.

Northern braggadocio Premium

01 September 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
The opening seconds of this promising 10-parter, which began last Monday and ends next Friday, found Melvyn Bragg perched on top of Hadrian’s Wall.

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