Results tagged “Paul Levy measures the Angles” from Plain English
Anyone reading this is surely aware that we live in an era when what and how we eat is a worry for everyone, whether we're the unfortunate many with too little to eat, or the fortunate minority with too much choice in the matter. We, mostly Western, increasingly fat, few acknowledge that we have a moral duty to worry about the hungry masses. But we are also aware that we have turned the biological imperative to feed ourselves about three times a day into an obsessive pastime - we've made a hobby of our necessity.
The current scandal in Britain is about how a dead paedophiliac appears to have been protected and event abetted in his crimes by his employer. The trouble is that the employer in question was the second most revered institution (after the monarchy) in the country, the BBC. The nature of the complaint against the BBC is not clear, except that it failed to follow up and transmit "Newsnight's" posthumous exposé of Jimmy Savile's assaults on under-aged girls and boys, which were actually facilitated by the BBC and in some cases took place on BBC premises.
Was it a cover-up? Did the BBC top brass know Savile was a paedophile?
I am an EastEnders addict. Anybody reading this who doesn't have access to BBC television will probably be at a loss to understand this reference to the long-running TV soap opera, which takes place in "Albert Square," a fictional postal address in London's East End. I, like millions of other middle-class Brits (though I'm only half Brit, and that by dint of passport only, not birth), go slumming in Albert Square four times each week for a half hour starting at 7.30 or 8.0.
And I mean "slumming." The whole point of the series is that the highest moral type you encounter in EE is the lovable rogue. Otherwise the dramatis personae consist of an entire catalogue of villainy, from Falstaffian slightly bent to Iago-like pure evil. There are no virtuous women living in Albert Square, and no honest men. Even the children, though charming, are adept at calculating the odds.
The Tempest is a play for which it is possible to feel real affection. In this it is, of course, unlike the tragedies: you can't imagine having warm, happy, cheerful or loving feelings about Macbeth, Hamlet or Othello. (There was a famous American Yiddish theatre production of King Lear - the moral of it being, "You bring them up, feed them, clothe them; then look what they do to you in your old age!" You can perhaps conceive of feeling affectionate in a superior, amused way about such a staging.) It's possible to love the tragedies, as it is The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet and several of the comedies and histories - and as it is not, say, the Taming of the Shrew or Timon of Athens.
Why am I fond of The Tempest? Not because it suits my political feelings. I can see merit in the interpretation that says the play's point is anti-colonialism - it's a reading that fits. But it can't be the whole story, and making it so has resulted in any number of poor productions that I've seen. The Tempest is too much a tale of the natural order being subverted and restored - of dukes being dukes and princes, princes, and of Miranda being a natural aristocrat, though all the home she knows is the desert isle - to impose a single ideological straitjacket on its plot and subplots.
Kirsty Bushell as "Sebastian"
If there had only been gay marriage in Melville's day, none of it would have happened. David Alden's production of Billy Budd at the English National Opera has received very good reviews from many of my opera critic colleagues. Paul Steinberg's set and Constance Hoffman's costumes send mixed messages about the location and period of the drama, but seem to be trying to place the action in the present, in some sort of forced labour plant - a Soviet oil refinery perhaps? Or in the bowels of a nuclear submarine
Besides the nasty weather we've had during and since the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, a storm is brewing about the BBC's coverage of the events, from the flotilla of 1,000 boats to the big lunch and pop concert at Buckingham Palace, to the last day's service at St Paul's, the carriage procession and balcony appearance after them.
At the time of writing, it has been announced that the Beeb has received 4,000 complaints. I imagine all of them were justified, as I'd guess every single one of them complained about the caliber of the presenters, who were the ultimate dumb-downers.
Here's my contribution to the Jubilee. In the summer or early autumn of 1986 I was commissioned by the NY Times - Magazine, I think I remember - to write a piece on the queen and her then prime minister, who was Margaret Thatcher. There had been some trivial business about the two of them wearing the same dress, and this led to a piece in the (British) Sunday Times saying there was some tension between the two 60 year-olds. The tiff has been dredged up for the Jubilee and you can read a summary of it at http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/Magazine/Interviews/article1041265.ece
The front page of the London paper for April 28 (London has only one paper, the Evening Standard; the rest are national papers) had a huge headline saying that Occupy, the group that formerly targeted St Paul's, has moved on to the Olympics. (Oddly enough, the only other stories I've seen about this were a follow-up the next day in the Standard, and one story in the Independent. I don't know whether the news is being actively suppressed, or whether our free press and broadcasters are just too gung-ho Olympics to print or broadcast this news. But what wonderful news it is.
To be a member of the Critics' Circle in Britain you have to have been a regularly published critic of the theatre, music, dance, cinema or visual arts for at least two years. It's a handy form of accreditation and, unlike the way theatre and film people and musicians are organized, it has no aspect of trade unionism, and so is non-political and uncontroversial - for the most part.
In addition to the Critics' Circle overall annual award to a practitioner of one of the arts, some of the five sections listed above give their own awards. Yesterday was the grandest occasion, the Critics' Circle Theatre Awards for 2011. The Prince of Wales Theatre in the West End was crammed with faces familiar from screens as well as from behind the footlights, as so many starry British film and television actors now seem to relish doing live theatre.
Eddie Redmayne at Awards Ceremony 24 January 2012
"We seem to be a society that celebrates all the wrong people."
Who said that? The wisest man in Britain today, Iain Duncan Smith, once caretaker leader of the Conservative Party, Work and Pensions Secretary in the current government. He chairs the cabinet social justice committee, and what he has to say about the summer urban riots is full of good sense.
In an interview with the Guardian of 9 December Duncan Smith had the guts to blame the riots on celebrity culture. Children, he said, are regarding contestants on the degraded TV programme The X Factor and doltish Premier League footballers as role models. His point is simple and obviously true: British kids think success in life is achieved by being one of these undereducated yahoos, rather than by hard work. "Kids," he said, are meant to believe that their stepping stone to massive money is The X Factor. Luck is great, but most of life is hard work. We do not celebrate people who have made success out of serious hard work."
There's something in common - besides lack of taste - between the talentless who win The X Factor and the banksters with their undeserved giant bonuses, namely being rewarded incommensurately for the amount of skill and work involved in the performance.
I've known the Indian photographer Pablo Bartholomew since the 1980s, when he accompanied me and a troupe of (mostly) French Michelin-starred chefs on our post-publication (of The Official Foodie Handbook) tour of India. Our lot included Pierre Troisgros, Michel Rostang, Alain Dutournier, Jean-André Charial, Jean Lameloise and journalists Gilles Pudlowski, Fay Maschler, Gael Greene and Craig Claiborne. But when this crew got to Goa, the local English-language newspaper heralded our arrival with the headline: "Ace Clicker in Town."
That, of course, was Pablo, then the best-known photographer in the subcontinent.
This question became urgent this week when my autumn roundup of performing arts events went to press on Thursday evening for Friday's paper. The "fact-checker" (I put it in scare quotes as the title is itself redundant: if something really is a fact, it obviously doesn't need checking) altered many of the dates in my piece. Why did she do this? Because she had checked the theatre websites online, and found that many if not most of them claimed that the play began before the date I had given in my copy.
Only moments ago, watching the ITV News account of the tsunami resulting from the earthquake in NE Japan, I heard the announcer say that low-lying Pacific Islands were menaced - and that for many of them this was a double blow, as some of them had previously had to be evacuated owing to the consequences of global warming. It strikes me as odd - and interesting - that the TV news presenter can refer to climate change in a commonsensical, low-key way, while some global warming-deniers are still shouting from the (metaphorical) rooftops, and while there have been two plays in London recently struggling to deal with the climate change question: i.e., whether it is man-made, as no one can actually deny the fact of climate change.
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Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
rock culture approximately
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Art from the American Outback
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
No genre is the new genre
David Jays on theatre and dance
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
John Rockwell on the arts
innovations and impediments in not-for-profit arts
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Martha Bayles on Film...
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds
Joe Horowitz on music
Jerome Weeks on Books
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
Public Art, Public Space
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary