February 2009 Archives
You have to wonder whether our culture is robust enough to survive the death of Jade Goody.
Non-British readers probably need to be told that Ms Goody is the most repulsive, rebarbative result yet thrown up by our oxymoronic "celebrity culture." She's a 27-year-old who, in 2002, became notorious as the youngest contestant on the fatuous TV reality show "Big Brother." Despite the fact that she had at the time been evicted from her subsidised council flat owing £3,000 in unpaid rent and was facing jail over her unpaid council tax bill, it wasn't enough to earn her the sympathy of viewers, and she only came fourth.
Does London have a category of theatre similar to "Off-Broadway"? I suppose you could argue that any show that doesn't originate in the commercial West End qualifies, except that most plays that begin in the several Arts Council-subsidised companies (whether London-based or regional) almost always have limited runs. So the idea of an Off-Broadway production as a commercial one with a smaller risk attached is not really terribly common here. Should a play at Hampstead, Hammersmith or Chelsea, for example, hit pay-dirt, it would probably transfer to the one of the all-too-many available West End venues, rather than soldier on in its début house.
It's all a question of business models, not aesthetics. Which means a recession is a good time to have a new hit play. Box office takings seem still to be rising, as an evening at the theatre looks to be a bargain compared, for example, to eating out in a chic London restaurant. And though there don't seem to be a lot of dark theatres just now, there's always one ready to receive a transfer.
London's only paper, the Evening Standard, recently bought by the ex-KGB Russian billionaire, Alexander Lebedev, has had the prescience to send a reporter to survey the aftermath of the 2004 Olympics in Athens. The journalist found stagnant water and garbage in the diving pool, weeds growing through the walkways and dog mess in the site of the Olympic Village. That is the legacy left to Athens by their $15bn Olympics.
Usually I go to performances on their official opening nights, as they are normally the first time the press is admitted, and often the only performance for which the press office has an allocation of tickets. But sometimes that's not possible because of a clash, and, if you ask nicely, the press officer will find you seats sometime later. I've discovered that, especially in the case of operas, with their comparatively short runs, this often means that you are witness to a better performance than your colleagues seem to have had on the press night.
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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
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
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
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
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
Jerome Weeks on Books
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world
Public Art, Public Space
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog