“There are at least two reasons why almost every anglophone novelist feels compelled to get as near the Booker Prize as they can. The first is because it looms over them and follows them around in the way Guy de Maupassant said the Eiffel Tower follows you everywhere when you’re in Paris.” Even so, writes Amit Chaudhuri, “I’m not saying that the Booker shouldn’t exist. I’m saying that it requires an alternative, and the alternative isn’t another prize.”
Jelani Cobb: “Last month, HBO inspired an avalanche of criticism when it announced that it would produce a series called Confederate, which would explore a hypothetical world in which the South had won the Civil War. The events in Charlottesville illustrated a problem with that idea: only by the most specific, immediate definition can we consider the Confederacy to have lost the Civil War, and its legacy has defined a great deal of our history since then.”
“Mobile technology encourages us to forego the Enlightenment Era experience and its accompanying promise of profound self-knowledge. With the invisible audience of social media always lurking in our mobile phones, we are tempted to permanently affix a scrim of personal narrative over the artwork we see and experience. Do art selfies correlate with lower levels of engagement with the artwork?”
Post-truth’s stations of the cross are pretty familiar. Most if not all of them are given some attention in each of the books under review. In terms of contemporary evidence, any journalistic book on the subject will do what all three of the ones here do at some length. They pick over the global warming “debate”; over claims made in the Brexit referendum – especially the notorious £350 million figure on the side of the Vote Leave bus; and the various lies of the great orange elephant in the room, the forty-fifth President of the United States. The row over the crowd size at the Presidential inauguration, the “birther” conspiracy, “alternative facts”, “fake news” – it’s all here. Where they differ a little in their approaches is in how they unpick what led us here, and in their more or less optimistic ideas as to how we (that we being less interrogated than perhaps it should be) can fight back.
A new study finds that less than a quarter of millennials have watched a film from start to finish that was made back in the 1940s or 50s and only a third have seen one from the 1960s. Thirty percent of young people also admit to never having watched a black and white film all the way through – as opposed to 85 percent of those over 50 – with 20 percent branding the films “boring.”
It means the same thing it did before, only more so: “With a cast far more racially mixed than the European-descended men who penned the Constitution, the play’s power is that promises of equality made in the 1700s should never be forsaken. The American dream, the play suggests, belongs to all, not to the resentful and narrow vernaculars reverberating through red and blue state battles.”
“On a broader level, there is no one-to-one correspondence between the art of a culture and the psychology of the society that produced it. Furthermore, noting word frequency in published writing does not have a one-to-one correspondence with spoken language in everyday life. Further furthermore, without any contextual information about how these words are used, we just have semantic fragments floating in history’s void, free of any of the things that turn them into actual language.”
The Majority, a new show at London’s National Theatre by the performer and playwright Rob Drummond, is inspired by a wave of recent electoral upsets, from the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 to the Brexit vote last year. Throughout the show, Drummond asks a series of timely questions to which the audience votes “yes” or “no” on in real time, with the results immediately revealed, as he demonstrates how easily the shape of a question can alter its answer.
The Pulitzer-winning playwright (Between Riverside and Crazy, The MF with the Hat, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot) began his career as an actor, and old colleagues still want to work with him. But until this summer, he hadn’t been onstage since 2004, and in the meantime he’d let stress affect his health in other ways and backed out of several acting jobs he’d already accepted. As the time approached for the revival of Mamet’s American Buffalo he’s now co-starring in, his body brought things to a crisis.
“As biochemists concoct new life-extending medications, calls to Poison Control after swallowing the wrong pills or the wrong number of the right pills have recently doubled. We put a smartphone in every hand, and now more than 1,000 distraction-related crashes happen on our roads every day (also steadily rising). Kids and pets succumb to heatstroke inside cars that are more environmentally sealed than ever—we’re on track to set a new record for hot car deaths in 2017. Falling off of ladders? Even those numbers are climbing, and if you’re wondering how that could possibly be related to technology, well, read on.”
“I know what you all expect from me and I have complied up to a point. But frankly I am tired, tired of standing up, being counted, tired of ‘having a voice’ or worse ‘being a role model,’” she writes in a new artist statement hating on artist statements, for a show opening Sept. 7 at Sikkema Jenkins & Co., in Manhattan.
The Rolling World Premiere project, operated by the National New Play Network, “helps underwrite new plays to make sure they get at least three separate productions in three totally separate markets, all within 12 months – and all billed as world premieres as the play ‘rolls’ cross-country to various theaters, casts, and settings.”
“It was my first visit to the Bayreuth Festival, and I was wrestling with conflicting emotions. There was the thrill of realizing my long-held dream of hearing Richard Wagner’s music in the opera house he built, where some of my favorite recordings were made. But there was queasiness, too, at the inescapable memories of old photos showing the theater defiled during the Nazi era, festooned with swastikas and visited regularly by Hitler. Then I stepped outside at intermission on Saturday evening and checked my phone.”
“Miyazaki has nothing left to prove. But for the other directors it’s hard not to suspect that the old retirement hokey-cokey – in, out, in, out – is at least partly driven by PR reasoning. … If that’s what’s going on, then these vacillating retirees have been forced into it by the tumultuous state of cinema. They’re taking action on a commonly voiced complaint: that the studios’ franchise addiction has sucked financing out of mid-range-budget films.”
Yes, there are gentrification worries, but “these businesses and others are ambassadors of Bronx culture at large, said Jerome LaMaar, [boutique] 9J’s dapper owner. ‘And what’s a brand without the right ambassador to push it?’ Here, a look at some of those South Bronx ambassadors and their pioneering efforts in this new frontier.”
“We must admit that for a long time your Hollywood movies have been better made than Chinese movies, so we watched them all,” said Zou Ping, a parcel delivery worker in his 20s, leaving a showing of “Wolf Warrior 2” in Beijing. “But now you must also admit that this movie was pretty good, and it has a Chinese hero. It feels good to be on the side of justice.”
“Throughout its 80-year history, the choir has performed for presidents, on television and radio, and at places like Carnegie Hall and the Academy Awards. The choir toured the country and world and performed as many as 100 concerts each year.” But in recent years the school has been plagued by declining enrollment, cash shortages, and a sexual abuse scandal.
“In 14 months of affiliation with the company – only two as its artistic director – [Hope Muir] has hired an astonishing array of new choreographers, rehired all but two members of the first company, endeared herself to donors from Charlotte to Chautauqua, N.Y., begun to investigate national and international tours, created a choreographic lab to inspire new dancemakers, put together a collaboration for the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra’s Classical series in April, said goodbye to resident choreographer Dwight Rhoden and instituted family matinees for mainstage works beyond the inevitable Nutcracker.”
“‘Many older techniques have a strong inner logic,’ says [Countertechnique creator Anouk] van Dijk, who now directs Melbourne-based Chunky Move. ‘But I found they didn’t prepare the body for when the dancer has to be highly versatile.’ Countertechnique equips dancers with a range of skills and teaches them to apply them within familiar movements. This gives dancers more agency, which van Dijk believes can reduce anxiety in performance and even help dancers prevent and recover from injury.”
“Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group has announced a new partnership with one of China’s largest live entertainment groups to develop the country’s musical theatre industry. Among the first projects to be announced are the first Chinese-language production of Tell Me on a Sunday and a training course taught in collaboration with Arts Educational Schools.”
“Edwin Torres has a strong and diverse history in arts philanthropy. Prior to joining the NYC Cultural Affairs office, he was an associate director with The Rockefeller Foundation and director of external partnerships for Parsons School of Design at The New School. He served on the GIA board of directors from 2011 through 2016. He has also served on the arts and culture team at Ford Foundation as well as on the staff of Bronx Council on the Arts. He holds a Master of Arts in Art History from Hunter College and a Master of Science in Management from The New School.”