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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The last two Edinburgh Fringe festivals included numerous productions reflecting on Scottish and British politics before and after the independence referendum. But that poll, in September 2014, was perfectly timed for festival deadlines on either side.
After first chancing his arm with Michael Heseltine, Peter Hennessy (also a columnist for The Tablet) devoted the second instalment of his new series of Reflections to a sit-down with the former Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Sir Vince Cable (9 August).
In the nature/nurture debate thrumming under the sombre surface of The Childhood of a Leader – the portrait of a tyrant in waiting – first-time director Brady Corbet sits on an iron fence. You could blame the parents, but you might also discern in the story’s moppet dictator a streak of wanton nastiness that is purely his own.
Guitars and pedals Premium28 July 2016
Edinburgh International Festival 2016
Trivial pursuit Premium28 July 2016 | by John Morrish
Julian of Norwich’s entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography briefly ponders her somewhat unusual name, then notes: “no other information concerning her identity or origins has come to light”.
As might have been expected from its title, Emma Beck’s heartfelt documentary (22 July) was full of deeply arresting sound bites. “Somebody say something,” a bereaved mother remembered asking a room full of clinicians, each of whom stood staring at an ultrasound scan confirming that prenatal movement had ceased.
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