The JCB Prize for Literature will recognize (the jury’s choice of) the best work of fiction by an Indian author either written in or translated into English from an Indian language. The winning author will receive 2.5 million rupees ($38,500), and the translator (if applicable) wins 500,000 rupees ($7,700). The aim is not only to promote Indian literature, but to encourage translations between Indian languages and into English.
Christian Merlin: “What to make of the Internet? We tried to determine criteria, but it was difficult because, broadly speaking, none of the approaches worked. A press card? Even I’ve never had one. Remuneration? Most of the music criticism websites don’t pay their authors, so one might say that this isn’t a professional activity. The problem is that today, there are some really competent people writing on those sites. Some things have come out in the wash and the most serious and solid sites have come out in front, even if others are only moderately professional.”
At the center of Quiara Alegría Huedes’ Elliot trilogy of plays – Elliot: A Soldier’s Fugue; Water by the Spoonful; and The Happiest Song Plays Last – is the former soldier. But Elliot isn’t someone the playwright made up out of whole cloth. Instead, he’s based on her cousin, whom she calls her muse. Sure, she changed some details, but “the fictional Elliot’s life is close enough to this young man’s that he can confidently be regarded as the Ur-Elliot, the original model, the irreducible essence of Elliot-ness from whom all other Elliots on various stages have sprung.”
Creator and showrunner David Simon sold The Wire to HBO as “the anti-cop show, a rebellion of sorts against all the horseshit police procedurals afflicting American television.” Says actor Aidan Gillen, “It dealt with issues that no other shows would be interested in dealing with. It didn’t compromise in any areas. To get it, you had to watch and listen, and there was a risk that people might not have bothered, but they did.”
“Department store Barneys New York has teamed up with Samsung and the Martha Graham Dance Company for what’s possibly the most intriguing dance-meets-fashion collaboration to date. Today through April 8, you can visit select Barneys stores or their website to experience Mantle, a surreal 11-minute virtual reality experience featuring current and former Graham company members in eerie choreography by Cynthia Stanley.”
“In the summer of 2016, while digging the new Metro C subway line in Rome, workers came across a rare archeological find, a 2nd-century CE Roman barracks. Late last week, archeologists uncovered the remains of a ‘commander’s house’ (domus) connected to the barracks, … complete with marble floors, mosaics, and frescoes.”
“Red Granite Pictures, the producer behind The Wolf of Wall Street, Dumb and Dumber To and other films, has agreed to pay $60 million to the U.S. government in order to settle allegations that it was funded in part by money siphoned from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund called 1 Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB.”
The live show was broadcast by ABC and it attracted an average of 26.5 million viewers according to Nielsen, a 20 percent decline on last year’s 32.9 million. The previous record low was set in 2008 when 31.8 million viewers tuned in to watch Jon Stewart host the event. That year, Oscar chaos was narrowly avoided after an 11-week writers’ strike in Hollywood.
“The knitting project has been a particularly fun one so far just because it ended up being a dialogue between this computer program and these knitters that went over my head in a lot of ways. The computer would spit out a whole bunch of instructions that I couldn’t read and the knitters would say, this is the funniest thing I’ve ever read.”
“The percentage of people that read books, newspapers, or magazines in the bathroom, according to a survey by the plumbing-fixture company American Standard. … One Oregon resident realized the amount of time spent reading in the bathroom could be an interesting business opportunity.” And thus Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader was born.
“In the week to come, I received one of those public Twitter and Facebook shamings that writers now expect as an occupational hazard. Hundreds or possibly thousands of people, including close friends and professional colleagues, wrote or shared critiques of my piece; wondered in public what had become of me; lamented my decline (which had the strangely complimentary effect of suggesting that I had some status to lose, which few writers ever really feel they do).”
“A crime happens, and there is a witness. Instead of a sketch artist drawing a portrait of the suspect based on verbal descriptions, the police hook the witness up to EEG equipment. The witness is asked to picture the perpetrator, and from the EEG data, a face appears. … Is it mind reading? Sort of.” And Canadian researchers are just beginning to make it a reality.
In comments to The Guardian that he later walked back, RuPaul said, “You can identify as a woman and say you’re transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body. It takes on a different thing; it changes the whole concept of what we’re doing.” And he followed up on Twitter: “You can take performance-enhancing drugs and still be an athlete, just not in the Olympics.” Spencer Kornhaber offers a rebuttal.
Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston responds to an article arguing that we might soon be seeing female tenors on the opera stage: “‘Looser gender divisions in casting’ may well be possible in Shakespearean theatre, where speaking rather than singing voices are involved, but there are no female professional opera singers, even those of us who sing in the contralto range, begging to sing tenor roles such as Rodolfo (in Puccini’s La Bohème) or Alfredo (in Verdi’s La Traviata) at pitch.” (Or even transposed, for that matter.)
“Greet audience members, take tickets, work the concession stands, run the elevator. Point the way to seats, restrooms, box offices and exits. These are some of the tasks of a volunteer usher at theaters across New York City. The lure: a free ticket. The competition: increasingly fierce.”
“The Montreal-based Grands Ballets Canadiens has changed the name and theme of its show Femmes, after women” – and not only women – “criticized the company for commissioning a ballet touted as a tribute to women but choreographed by three men. The Grands Ballets was also criticized for the way it promoted Femmes, which included online ads with a picture of three male dancers trapped in ice.”
“Three sources close to the investor group, led by former Obama administration official Maria Contreras-Sweet, said Tuesday that it found at least $50 million in undisclosed liabilities on the New York company’s books. The surprise debts, which would have significantly increased the purchase price of the assets, torpedoed negotiations.”
The well-funded company, among the world’s busiest and considered among its best, has engaged Jurowski, currently chief conductor of the London Philharmonic and formerly music director of the Glyndebourne Opera Festival, beginning in 2021. He will be joined at the company by a new superintendent, Serge Dorny, who currently runs the Opéra national de Lyon in France.
“It’s no shocker to say that the choral and instrumental worlds have evolved quite separately over the past century. Highly chromatic or atonal music is rarely written for choirs, and the deep exploration of timbre found in instrumental pieces from later in the 20th century has mostly been ignored in favor of the pervasive choral sound inherited from the English cathedral tradition. Not only have the two worlds evolved separately, but their cultural importance is weighed differently as well.”
It is fashionable among theater intellectuals to look down on Lloyd Webber’s musicals: their catchy tunes, their ripe orchestrations, their puzzling stories (“The story of Evita is simple” is perhaps the book’s most controversial claim, starkly undermined by the ensuing plot summary) and of course their commercial success. But by his own admission in “Unmasked,” Lloyd Webber has never been fashionable.
Luke Jennings: “The problem with Femmes – a new triple-bill from Les Grands Ballets Canadiens – “apart from the sheer, kitsch ghastliness of the concept, is that it epitomises the lack of agency of women in classical dance. The reverence for the feminine implied by Balanchine’s quote [‘Ballet is woman’] has always been contingent on women knowing their place. Ballet relies on women to make up most of its performing workforce, but overwhelmingly reserves positions of artistic power for men.”
“The two paintings, ‘Portrait of a Woman Wearing a Gold Chain’ and ‘Portrait of a Man Wearing a Black Hat,’ are a keystone in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts’ expanding collection of works by the Dutch masters. And now, for the first time in at least 50 years, both works are undergoing a painstaking restoration that could reveal new secrets in these familiar faces.” Says curator Ronni Baer, “They’ll just look like they’re alive again. Right now, they just look dead.”
“The European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht, the Netherlands, long recognized as the world’s reigning showcase of museum-quality art and antiques, is not just a destination art fair anymore but a global art brand. Or at least that is the aim of the Dutch foundation that runs the fair.”