Monthly Archives: January 2022


(Helena Smith’s article appeared in the Guardian, 1/31; A member of Prof Lambrinoudakis’ team showing a picture of farmer Christos Zafiris, the site’s former owner, on the spot where the Little Theatre of Epidavros was discovered. Photograph: Helena Smith/The Guardian; (below) Excavations at the Little Epidavros Theatre. Photograph: Vassilis Lambrinoudakis.)

New passion for reviving country’s monuments is returning Little Theatre of Epidavros to heart of community.)

For nearly two millennia, the Little Theatre of Epidavros lay underground. Its engraved seats, concentric and tiered, belonged to a world of roots; in this case the roots of an olive grove owned by Christos Zafiris, a local farmer. “They say that had it not been for pigs digging at the soil, we might never have known of its existence,” says Prof Vassilis Lambrinoudakis. “Until the appearance of the stones in 1970, the theatre was a secret hidden under the earth for 18 centuries.”

The classical archaeologist, renowned for his work at Athens University, has spent more than four decades ensuring the chance find would not go to waste. Excavations have not disappointed. Inscriptions discovered at the site, on the slopes of a peninsula overlooking the sea, have shed light on the history of those who may have commissioned the theatre. Evidence of multiple phases of construction, starting in the mid-fourth century BC, have further illuminated the ancient city of Epidavros that once surrounded the architectural gem.

For those who flock to the resurrected theatre’s festival every July, the venue, roughly 95 miles south-west of Athens, rivals its slightly younger but much more famous sister, the 12,000-seat ancient playhouse barely 10 miles away long regarded as Greece’s best theatre acoustically and aesthetically.

 “It’s among our top 10 20th century finds,” says Lambrinoudakis, a sprightly octogenarian pointing to the Little Theatre’s upper tiers. “More than any other remnant of the past, ancient theatres speak to us. They contain a message of life that modern society has a thirst to share. It is our duty to bring them alive.”

In a country as culturally rich as Greece, ancient arenas, like other antiquities, are no stranger to abandonment and decay. Overstretched budgets, an unwieldy bureaucracy and public oversight have all been blamed for ruins falling victim to the ravages of neglect and time. But officials are now on a mission to revive the monuments. And, with the aid of private sponsorship and EU funds, headway is being made.

South of little Epidavros, restoration work on the 17,000-seat ancient theatre of Sparta was launched last year. In Larissa, reconstruction of central Greece’s biggest open-air ancient theatre is on course to be completed. As excavations have progressed, authorities have reported thousands of inscriptions and hundreds of sculptures being unearthed.

Farther north, in Epirus, one of Europe’s poorest regions, plans are afoot to make five ancient Greek theatres the centrepiece of a 214-mile cultural route taking in 2,500 years of history. The EU will provide 80% of the €24m the project is slated to cost.

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(Arifa Akbar’s article appeared in the Guardian, 1/28; The truth at any cost … Monica Dolan as Sister Aloysius in Doubt. Photograph: Johan Persson.)

Many will know John Patrick Shanley’s 2004 parable from the Oscar-nominated film adaptation with towering performances by Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman. This taut production walks out from under its long shadow to dazzle with its own invention.

Father Flynn (Sam Spruell) has been seen alone with 12-year-old new boy Donald Muller in a school governed by nuns. Altar wine has been drunk. The principal, Sister Aloysius (Monica Dolan), is sure some wrongdoing must have occurred between the priest and the boy and so begins her campaign to unearth the truth and take Flynn down.

Shanley’s script harkens back to a 1960s Catholic corner of the Bronx in New York but like all good parables, its story feels both timeless and more timely than ever, its ideological arguments speaking to our world of social media silos and Punch and Judy political debates.

In a production directed by Lia Williams, intention and truth stay opaque – it is not only the Sister’s tyranny of certitude that is complicated but also the Father’s silver-tongued sermonising on doubt. Is she smoking out the truth or clinging to absolutes in a fast-changing world? Is he mobilising arguments in an effort to escape blame? Each character’s cards are played close to their chest and the performances elevate themselves beyond any comparisons with the film.

Dolan brings an unsettling humour and swagger to her role. She is not a likable character – and not as seemingly reasonable as the Father – but that does not make her position wrong. “It is my job to outshine the fox,” she says, and she could be Miss Marple in a habit – gimlet-eyed, ever suspicious, performing Catholic duty to the letter and seeing heresy even in Frosty the Snowman.

There is something magnificently rebellious about Dolan’s portrayal: she is never going to win against a “man in a robe”, says Mrs Muller when she visits the school to talk about her son’s apparent abuse. But the Sister squares up to a patrician church and its nakedly patriarchal power structures, even as Flynn pulls rank, telling her what women can’t do in the church and threatening to get her fired.

Spruell is equally magnificent, by turns beseeching, vulnerable, explosive and entitled, at once both victim and arch manipulator who talks to schoolboys about making sure to keep their nails clean, as if appearance is all. “Children need warmth,” he says, and the drama’s ground constantly shifts between his truth and hers.

Their confrontations are bare-teethed and full of Pinteresque savagery, while the two ancillary characters, Sister James (Jessica Rhodes) and Mrs Muller (Rebecca Scroggs) bring added moral complications and controlled, compelling performances.

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(Billy Shortall’s and Ciarin O’Neill’s article appeared in The Iris Times, 1/26/2022; Photo: Delegates to the World Congress of the Irish Race led by Katherine Hughes, Mary MacSwiney, Éamon de Valera, Countess Markievicz, Thomas Hughes Kelly and Sean T O’Kelly. Photograph: Image Bibliothèque Nationale de France.)


A showcase of Irish art and design brought a fleeting moment of unity before the Civil War


In late January 1922 the cream of Irish politics, literature, music, theatre, art and design converged in Paris. James Joyce published his modernist masterpiece Ulysses. Renowned designer Eileen Gray opened her shop Jean Désert, and an event known as the World Congress of the Irish Race took place in the city. The week-long congress brought Irish delegates and an international audience together to discuss Irish affairs and establish a central diaspora organisation to co-ordinate worldwide support for the emerging State.


Associated with the congress the Irish government presented the grand narrative of Irish cultural history, with lectures on aspects of Irish life and culture, performances of plays by playwrights John M Synge and Lady Gregory, and concerts of Irish music. The centrepiece of this cultural display was a seminal exhibition of Irish art.


The Irish exhibition aimed to show the world the best of modern Irish art in a global context. It was an early deployment of soft power and cultural diplomacy

The French authorities estimated 250 people attended the congress. Approximately 100 delegates with voting rights travelled from all over the world to the political think-in and tactical display of Irish culture. Éamon de Valera described it as a chance to display Ireland’s “magnificent culture, the grand things the nation could give to the world”.


The centrepiece of this show was an art exhibition, mounted in a fashionable Parisian art gallery, Galerie Barbazanges, located just around the corner from Jean Désert. Barbazanges specialised in modern art, showing Picasso and Modigliani. By choosing this space the Irish exhibition aimed to show the world the best of modern Irish art in a global context. It was an early deployment of soft power and cultural diplomacy. Art was to be used as a key element of branding a postcolonial Ireland.


This Friday, January 28th, Trinity College Dublin will launch a 3D virtual recreation of this seminal exhibition developed by historians from the Department of History and Department of History of Art and Architecture in partnership with Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute. Seeing Ireland is an ambitious digital humanities project which forms part of the Decade of Centenaries programme for 2022 and has been supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.



Visitors to the website will be able to enjoy an immersive experience of attending the exhibition and see Ireland as it wished to be seen by the world in 1922 in a fleeting moment of unity, between the Treaty split and subsequent Civil War that dominated the narrative of that year in Irish history. Irish art and culture was something both sides could embrace.


At the time of the congress no other country had officially recognised the State. The authorities sought to present a self-defined identity and to elicit international support as it sought to take its place in the world. The Irish minister for fine arts George Noble Plunkett, in correspondence with both congress organiser Katherine Hughes and de Valera, noted the “propaganda value” of the exhibition. George Gavan Duffy, then minister for foreign affairs, wrote that the congress was “mainly of a cultural and artistic character” and he thought that it was wise to send a delegation representing Ireland that would endeavour to “avoid party politics”. He invited de Valera and Eoin MacNeill to each lead an official delegation of five representing the country.


Other delegates included Countess Markievicz, Mary McSwiney, Harry Boland, Sean T O’Kelly and Douglas Hyde, who delivered a lecture to attendees on the Irish language. William Butler Yeats lectured on Irish literature and his brother Jack, in his one and only public lecture, spoke on modern Irish art. Speakers included MacNeill on Irish history, Arthur Darley on music and Evelyn Gleeson on Irish design. Other presentations were on economics, religion, sport and agriculture. These topics were chosen to represent the pre-Civil War pillars on which the new administration planned to build the State.


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Anne Frank puppet created for Theater J’s production of Compulsion. TO BE USED ONLY IN CONJUNCTION WITH PERFORMANCE PROMOTION. Image from reporter, Celia Wren, Credit: Photo by Adam Immerwahr

(Celia Wren’s article appeared in The Washington Post, 1/25.

Playwright Rinne B. Groff’s semi-fictional tale follows the struggle to turn the Holocaust diary into a stage production.

A marionette of the Anne Frank character in Theater J’s production of “Compulsion or the House Behind.” (Adam Immerwahr)

Marionettes may not immediately spring to mind when you think about one of the 20th century’s most revered texts: the diary of Anne Frank. But puppetry is integral to playwright Rinne B. Groff’s “Compulsion or the House Behind,” inspired by the passion and obsession of one of the diary’s key American popularizers.

The puppetry “has a real purpose” in the show says Matt Acheson, who designed the marionettes for Theater J’s production of “Compulsion,” and did the same for the play’s 2010 world premiere, a co-production by Yale Repertory TheatreBerkeley Repertory Theatre and New York’s Public Theater. The “Compulsion” marionettes in his view mirror the battle of wills Groff’s semi-fictional play depicts: a creative, commercial and legal tug-of-war beginning in the 1950s, during the attempt to turn the Anne Frank story into a stage production.

“You’re watching people pull it this way, pull it that way. ‘Make it dance like this! Make it more universal! We gotta take this out! We gotta put this in!’ Everybody’s coming in now and pulling a string of this story,” Acheson says.

To this day, puppetry remains a resonant metaphor for our relationship to Frank, says Johanna Gruenhut, who directs Theater J’s production, scheduled to run in person from Jan. 26 to Feb. 20, with a streaming option beginning Feb. 8.

“We all have a vision of who Anne is, in our own lives, and we create her for ourselves,” says Gruenhut, Theater J’s associate artistic director. “We sort of ‘puppet’ her, so that we feel connected to her in our own way.”

“Compulsion” draws on the true story of Meyer Levin, an early devotee of the diary Anne Frank kept while hiding from the Nazis in an Amsterdam warehouse annex. An author and sometime war correspondent, Levin encountered the diary after it was published in Europe following Frank’s death in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. He championed the work in America and particularly yearned to adapt it for the stage, so as to acquaint a wide audience with an invaluable first-person witness to the Holocaust.

A With the blessing of Otto Frank, Anne’s father, Levin wrote an adaptation. But his script was rejected in favor of a dramatization by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, which ultimately opened on Broadway in 1955 and won a Pulitzer Prize. Levin thought his script had been nixed because it gave due attention to the story’s Jewish dimension, which, in his view, the producing team wanted to downplay. He turned paranoid and litigious, going so far as to sue Otto Frank.

“Compulsion” imagines a similar chain of events precipitated by a Levin-like character named Sid Silver, portrayed at Theater J by Paul Morella. (Mandy Patinkin originated the role in 2010.) Over 30 years, his passion for the diary’s eloquence and authority spirals into irrational possessiveness and a persecution complex, and his career and relationships suffer. “We will see a man who was totally consumed with the thing he loves the most,” says Gruenhut — one whose story reflects how “obsession can be very beautiful, but also be our potential downfall,”

Underscoring Silver’s mania are non-naturalistic moments in which Anne and other characters appear in marionette form. In addition to the puppetry’s metaphorical overtones of manipulation, a historical fact justifies the conceit: Levin ran a marionette theater in Chicago in the 1930s.

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(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 1/18; via Pam Green; Photo:  Agile update … Keira Knightley and Damian Lewis in Martin Crimp’s 2009 version of The Misanthrope at the Comedy theatre, London. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian.)

Despite some clever reimaginings of Tartuffe, UK stages remain depressingly inattentive to one of the greatest playwrights

In France the 400th anniversary of Molière’s birth is being celebrated in a big way. In Britain it has been greeted with a deafening silence. But then we have always been slightly wary of Molière. It is partly that we lack the histrionic tradition that led CE Montague to write that watching French actors play Molière was “like turning over a portfolio of old and choice theatrical prints”. It is also the difficulty of translation: I can think of a handful of good ones – including Tony Harrison’s The Misanthrope, Christopher Hampton’s Don Juan and Ranjit Bolt’s The School for Wives – but many that are rough without being ready.

We seem much happier doing adaptations and one play that comes up repeatedly is Tartuffe. It is not hard to see why: hypocrisy, especially if it is religious, is always with us. Even Shakespeare jokes about it in Twelfth Night when Feste, donning a curate’s robe, says: “I would I were the first that ever dissembled in such a gown.” But Molière’s Tartuffe is much the greatest play on the subject and has prompted any number of transpositions: the two best I have seen both made use, in radically different ways, of Asian culture.

Jatinder Verma, founder of Tara Arts, did a remarkable National Theatre mobile production back in 1990. Verma discovered that in 1667, just after Molière wrote the first version of Tartuffe, a French traveller, François Bernier, was in India and was struck by the omnipresence of wandering holy men known as fakirs. “Heaven help the family,” wrote Bernier, “that does not give them a good welcome even though everyone knows they have eyes only for the women of the family.” Since Molière’s Tartuffe uses his religiosity to conquer Orgon’s wife, house and wealth, that gave Verma the cue for an Indian Tartuffe.

The result wittily reminded us that Molière’s work was anchored in popular tradition with Verma deploying Kathak dance and Khayal music. But he retained Molière’s plot: the duped Parisian bourgeois, Orgon, became a brocaded Mogul and Tartuffe, wonderfully played by Nizwar Karanj, a lecherous, shaven-headed guru in a saffron dhoti. Far from being mangled Molière, this was proof of the play’s classic status.

It also demonstrated that, if you are going to reimagine a play, it’s no use tinkering at the edges: you have to find a precise social parallel that works on every level. Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto did just that when in 2018 they came up with an RSC Tartuffe that set the play among a family of Birmingham-based British-Pakistani Muslims. This did justice to Molière’s complexity while tackling contemporary issues. Here Orgon was a guilt-ridden businessman anxious to return to his Muslim roots and Tartuffe an aberrant outsider rather than a genuine product of Islam. But perhaps the shrewdest touch was to turn Molière’s maid into a Bosnian Muslim and authorial spokesperson: she capped Tartuffe’s quotes from the Qur’an about female modesty by arguing that there was nothing in it to prove that women should cover their hair or their heads.

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(Blair McClendon’s article appeared in The New Yorker, 1/17/22; Photo:  With “A Raisin in the Sun,” Hansberry became an emblem of American progress. Photograph by David Attie / Getty.)

She’s been canonized as a hero of both mainstream literature and radical politics. Who was she really?

It is a lonely, wild, and often fatal thing to be Black and brook no compromise. Lorraine Hansberry was rigorous and unyielding in her life, but she was gone too soon and claimed too quickly by those who thought they understood her. Like many other Black giants of her time, her image proved pliable in death. She was turned into a saint so that her life could be turned into a moral. Yet she struggled beneath the weight of her own complexities and sorrows. She achieved literary celebrity but called herself a “literary failure,” was supported in a marriage that ultimately collapsed, resisted her family but didn’t denounce it, became an icon of the civil-rights movement that she relentlessly criticized, and wrote a masterpiece only to watch as it was widely misunderstood.

When I first encountered “A Raisin in the Sun,” I treated the play with suspicion. I was in high school, and thought that any Black writer who received such universal praise must have, in some way, sold out. I followed Hansberry’s protagonist, Walter Younger, Jr., as he confronted the future, “a big, looming blank space—full of nothing.” I watched him try to fill that space, begging and plotting and raging and falling into the abyss of deferred dreams that still swallows people whole. Despite my best efforts, I was moved. Perhaps I had succumbed; perhaps I would sell out, too.

But I had misread Hansberry. She knew all about Black success in America—its rewards, its costs, its limits—and her vision of it was murkier and more unsettling than she is given credit for. “A Raisin in the Sun” was the first play written by a Black woman to appear on Broadway—in 1959, when Hansberry was twenty-eight. It was an instant hit, and Hansberry’s age, race, and gender made her an emblem of American progress. “Raisin” follows the rise and fall and rise again of the Youngers, a Black mid-century family trying to turn its loss into a legacy. Walter Younger, Sr., has died, and the payout from his life-insurance policy promises to transform his family: five people across three generations squeezed into a kitchenette on Chicago’s South Side. Walter’s widow, Lena, uses part of the windfall for a down payment on a home in a white neighborhood. Against her better judgment, she entrusts another part to Walter Younger, Jr., to open up a liquor store, instructing him to set aside enough for his sister Beneatha’s medical-school education.

It is very nearly a tragedy. Walter believes so deeply in the American Dream that he cannot see the traps laid in his path. His business partners swindle him, and he loses everything. He is offered a devil’s bargain to gain a small portion of it back: a white man from the Youngers’ new neighborhood offers to pay them to relinquish their house. Things can be set right if they will give in. But Walter, who has considered his whole life a failure, refuses to say “yes, sir” yet again. The curtain closes as the family prepares to move into their new home.

On its surface, “Raisin” was the perfect play for its time. The Youngers are dignified, working-class folk, hemmed in by injustice, demanding nothing more than their fair share of the national bounty. For liberal white audiences, the play suggested an uplifting moral about universal humanity. For liberal Black audiences, it was consistent with the messaging of the civil-rights movement.

But Hansberry was more radical than her broad appeal would suggest. This was the same playwright who would later insist that it was quite reasonable for Black people to “take to the hills if necessary with some guns and fight back.” As Charles J. Shields writes in his new biography, “Lorraine Hansberry: The Life Behind ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ ” (Henry Holt), Hansberry’s ex-husband and longtime collaborator “wept with disappointment” over the early reviews. They struck him, Shields explains, as “too mild, and none of the themes or ideas were touched on about Black family life, the stresses of poverty, the conflict of the generations—nothing.”

In recent years, the puzzling paradox of how a Black lesbian Communist became a darling of mainstream America has been explored in multiple biographies, including Imani Perry’s “Looking for Lorraine” and Soyica Diggs Colbert’s “Radical Vision,” and in Tracy Heather Strain’s documentary “Sighted Eyes / Feeling Heart.” Shields’s portrait is the latest attempt to expand our sense of the personal struggle behind the public figure, and to illuminate the many contradictions that she sought to live and work through.

Hansberry was not raised to be a radical. She was born in Chicago in 1930, the child of an illustrious family that was well regarded in business and academic circles. Lorraine’s father, Carl Augustus Hansberry, was a real-estate speculator and a proud race man. When Lorraine was seven years old, the family bought a house in a mostly white neighborhood. Faced with eviction by the local property owners association, Carl fought against racially restrictive housing covenants in court. Shortly before the case was argued, a crowd of white neighbors gathered outside the Hansberry home. Nannie, Lorraine’s mother, stood watch with a gun. Someone hurled a brick through the window, narrowly missing Lorraine’s head. When the police finally arrived, one officer remarked, “Some people throw a rock through your window and you act like it was a bomb.” It was 1937. The bombing of Black families would come.

Carl Hansberry’s fight wound up before the Supreme Court, where he won his suit; Lorraine, perhaps, learned something about the need to stay and fight for what you deserve. Or at least that’s the neatest version of the story. Shields’s biography lays out a more complex narrative of political inheritance. Carl was not just a warrior against housing segregation. He was also, Shields says, the “king of kitchenettes,” a businessman who spotted an opportunity in Chicago’s rapidly growing Black population. Urban housing was scarce, in part because white landlords refused to rent apartments to Black families. Carl, through a few intermediaries, set about “blockbusting”—getting white families to sell cheaply by moving Black residents into their neighborhoods. He’d buy a building, then erect flimsy, flammable partitions dividing the apartments into cramped kitchenettes—like the one that the Youngers yearn to escape. “When a decent return on rental property was 6 percent, Hansberry was making 40,” Shields writes. This unseemly fact has been glossed over by some biographers, who have described Carl Hansberry as an entrepreneur. The complaints from his renters make clear that “slumlord” is a more accurate description.

For Lorraine, being the daughter of a kitchenette king was a problem from the start. Shields describes her being sent to kindergarten in an expensive white ermine coat, then shoved to the ground by her classmates, leaving the fur stained. As she grew up, she drifted away from the politics of her parents, who remained committed Republicans even as most Black voters were shifting their party allegiance; at the University of Wisconsin, she began campaigning for Henry Wallace’s Progressive Party. After the police turned up at a local protest that Hansberry attended, her parents forbade her to continue supporting the insurgent candidate. “I am quite sick about it,” she wrote to a close friend. “They are afraid Little Lorraine will call up one night from the police station and ask for her pajamas.” She kept volunteering for Wallace.

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(Alexi Duggins’s article appeared in the Guardian, 1/17; ‘No one has ever properly examined their story – or the attack – in depth’ … Siegried, left, and Roy onstage with one of their jungle cats. Photograph: Willi Schneider/REX/Shutterstock.)

Their exotic animal show was a Sin City sensation – until one of their white tigers attacked. But why were counter-terrorism police called? New podcast Wild Things tackles an enduring mystery

Where do you start with a story that involves counter-terrorism police doing background checks on a tiger, has its roots in the mental health problems of Nazi soldiers, and features an investigation into whether a beehive hairdo can be used as a weapon? What’s more, weaving in and out of all of this, there are two German magicians in mullets and shiny suits seemingly capable of floating around in the air, one of whom nearly dies on stage after a white tiger bites clean through his neck.

This was the problem facing Emmy-winning film-maker Steven Leckart, who had long felt that the extraordinary story of Siegfried and Roy, whose performances with exotic animals electrified Las Vegas, deserved a proper telling. The result is Wild Things, an eight-part podcast detailing how Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn rose to international stardom with a whole zoo’s worth of performing jungle cats, then had their live career effectively ended when a tiger called Montecore attacked Roy on stage, nearly killing him.

“As a child of the 80s,” says Leckart, speaking via Zoom from his Los Angeles home, “Siegfried and Roy have always loomed large for me. And no one has ever properly examined their story – or the attack – in depth.” To do so was a mighty undertaking: over the course of 50 years, Siegfried and Roy performed 30,000 shows to 50 million people, generating over $1bn in ticket sales. Their act fused gigantic, mind-boggling illusions with the most exotic animals on earth, sparking an explosion in families coming to Vegas shows, at a time when bills were dominated by topless showgirls.

The duo suspended tigers above crowds on flaming disco balls and made elephants vanish into thin air. After their shows, they would hang out with their jungle cats in their suite at the Mirage hotel, before returning to their $10m Moroccan-style villa the Jungle Palace, or their 100-acre residence Little Bavaria, where German marching music played through concealed speakers.

Their celebrity acquaintances included Michael Jackson (who wrote them a theme song), David Lee Roth (who gifted them goats) and Pope John Paul II (who gave them a fragment of Saint Francis of Assisi’s shinbone). In 1998, the then US President Bill Clinton joined them after a show, his secret service sharpshooters training their weapons on the tigers. A Saturday Night Live spoof had them introducing a special Night of a Thousand Tigers.

“They were hyperbole manifested,” says Leckart. “Everything about them was bigger, was louder, was dialled up to 11, which is a deliberate Spinal Tap reference. But what kept them going for so many years was their incredible skill and the way they progressed their show.”

Wild Things takes listeners through this journey, which has surprisingly sad origins in Germany. Both Siegfried and Roy’s fathers were violent, rage-filled alcoholics, scarred by years of fighting as Nazi soldiers. Roy’s lifelong love of animals started when he adopted a stray dog that protected him and his mother from his father’s fists. Siegfried sought refuge in magic, teaching himself tricks from books after watching an entertainer swallow razor blades in a town square.

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(FRANCE IN FOCUS © FRANCE 24 By: Monte FRANCIS|Stéphanie CHEVAL|Camille FEVRIER|Sonia BARITELLO/ France24; Photo: Photograph: Heritage Image Partnership Ltd/Alamy.) 

He’s known as the father of French theatre, but the influence of Molière goes well beyond France. His impact is still felt today all over the world. To mark the 400th anniversary of the famed playwright’s birth, we speak to Georges Forestier, professor at the Sorbonne and a specialist in the works of Molière. We also take you on a tour of Molière’s Paris.

France launches Saturday 15th, a year of events to mark the 400th anniversary of Moliere, the nation’s most illustrious and ever popular master of the stage and satire. Aurélien Pornet, tour guide in Paris, tells Moliere’s story through a walk in the capital.


(via Pam Green; Photo: Frank Beacham’s Journal.)

The legendary Liza Minnelli

The EGOT-winning entertainer sits down with “Sunday Morning” host Jane Pauley, and with her friend and accompanist Michael Feinstein, to talk about a life in the spotlight; the influence of French singer Charles Aznavour on her Oscar-winning performance in “Cabaret”; and how, at 75, she still continues to honor the works of Gershwin – and the life of her mother, Judy Garland.