Today's dramatists are failing to confront issues of injustice, writing instead "for attention spans of 10 minutes between adverts", leading political playwright Athol Fugard has said.
Fugard was a courageous dramatic voice throughout the apartheid era in his native South Africa, enduring censorship, police surveillance, phone-tapping and raids. He was the first to put black and white actors together on the South African stage.
(Elisabeth Mahoney’s article appeared in the Guardian, 8/28.)
An elderly couple sit, static and wan, under a single dim bulb and a tangle of mismatched chairs suspended at ceiling height. They have been married, they say, for 75 years and gather together each night in their isolated house on a lonely island to pass the time by telling stories. The Old Woman pleads for these ("Every night, I come to it fresh"), while the Old Man rails against their well-worn themes. "I'm sick to death of Tudor history," he complains.
(Simon’s review appeared in The New York Times, 8/28.)
The Czech novelist Milan Kundera’s new essayistic book, “Encounter,” his fourth, is alternatingly elegiac and celebratory. An émigré from the Communist horror of what was then Czechoslovakia, he settled in Paris and proceeded to write in French. But he discovered in France “the sense that we have come to the era of post-art, in a world where art is dying because the need for art, the sensitivity and the love for it, is dying.” Still, there remain the particular artists whom Kundera celebrates — novelists, poets, composers, painters — who keep beauty alive. There are 26 essays, some of only a couple of pages, some rather longer. Let us examine a characteristic one, “What Will Be Left of You, Bertolt?”
(Paul Bignell’s and Matthew Bell’s article appeared in the Independent, 8/29.)
First WikiLeaks stood accused of unnecessarily revealing closely guarded secrets. Now it's Wikipedia's turn. The online encyclopaedia is refusing to yield to criticism from Agatha Christie's family for revealing the ending of The Mousetrap, the world's longest-running play.
(David Ng’s article appeared in the Los Angeles Time, 8/27.)
[Updated at 3:05 p.m.] Marvin Hamlisch, the celebrated Oscar-, Tony- and Emmy-winning composer, has written some of the most memorable show tunes and movie scores of the last 40 years. Starting next summer, he'll bring his considerable talent to local audiences when he takes on the top artistic position at the Pasadena Pops.
(Lyn Gardner’s article appeared 8/27 in the Guardian.)
In the beginning there was chaos, and then there was Christmas. That's the kind of logic behind this glorious, daft and dippy musical. It's the latest show from Little Bulb, whom you may remember from their debut show Crocosmia, a delicate tale of Battenburg cake and loss told by siblings whose parents had died, or their epic folk musical, Sporadical. This is a company so recklessly talented you want to hug them and keep them safe in case they spoil. Some may suspect that they are getting away on sheer charm, but their musicianship is superb, and their ability to conjure the pains of youth uncanny.
(Lyn Gardner’s review appeared 8/26 in the Guardian.)
Once upon a time, the marvellous Russian company Derevo gave us Once, a heartless fairytale of moonbeams and moonshine. This latest piece from Anton Adasinsky and his company, who have previously wowed Edinburgh with shows such as Ketzel and La Divina Commedia, feels very much like the offspring of Once. It, too, is touched by moon madness and thwarted love, and it is a reminder that there are no lasting happy-ever-afters. Whimsy is always cut with despair, Romeo woos but fails to win his Juliet, the tears of the clown never dry up, and the great tyrannical puppet master in the sky still pulls the strings, however much you try to escape him.