‘Tell us what hath chanced today’

‘Tell us what hath chanced today’

Monday morning, five days ago. Just after ten o’clock on the top floor of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s south London rehearsal rooms the cast and creatives of Julius Caesar meet for the first time. Our chairs are set in a circle that just about squeezes into the space. Director Gregory Doran, the newly announced Artistic Director-designate of the RSC, introduces first the post’s incumbent, Michael Boyd. Michael expresses his pleasure that Greg (as he’ll be from now on in these blogs) is taking over from him. He talks also about the excitement and ambition of the World Shakespeare Festival, of which Julius Caesar is a central component. The stage version opens in Stratford-upon-Avon at the end of May, but when Greg introduces me, I remind him and everyone that exactly four weeks from now we will have turned over on principal photography for the film version. Four weeks. That’s, er, just twenty-eight days.
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The week’s links 25-31/3

The week’s links 25-31/3

I enjoyed across last week adding links to the previous post, and I’m going to repeat the experiment this week. But I am going to do away with the headings and include the new links at the top of the post each day, so that if you return you do not have to search to find the new stuff. Included here as I find them are things that interest me in the areas that are of concern to Illuminations: film and media, the development of television, contemporary performance and theatre history, visual arts and culture in general. [Latest updating: Friday at 23.30.]


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The week’s links 18-24/3

The week’s links 18-24/3

I have been thinking about how to create a new form of my links page that is useful but also sustainable (in the sense that it doesn’t take too much time to post). Here is the first outing for a variation in which I intend to build up an extensive list of links, divided into categories, across the coming week. By Saturday there ought to be a lengthy list of recommendations that reflects some of my reading and interests across these seven days – and that I hope you’ll find interesting. If it seems to work, then I’ll start a new one next Sunday. Across the jump you will find links under the following headings: Film, Television, Performance, Visual art, Digital media and what I choose to call Waifs and strays (the most recent update was at 20.30 on Thursday).
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Where there’s a Will

Where there’s a Will

Simon Callow’s one-person show Being Shakespeare today makes a triumphant return to London’s Trafalgar Studios. The production plays until 31 March before transferring to New York (for tickets, go here) but today is also the release date for our DVD of the production (click here to buy a copy). Retailing at £14.99, the DVD features the full 90-minute theatre show, and also has an exclusive interview with Simon Callow and performances by him of three of his favourite Shakespeare sonnets. With a host of extracts from the plays – some familiar, many not (and no ‘To be or not to be’) – Being Shakespeare is an exceptionally good introduction of the life and work of the world’s greatest writer, but it is also sufficiently smart to offer much to those steeped in the plays and, such as we know it, the biography.
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Close, but no cigar

Close, but no cigar

I blogged a fortnight back about how Points, our proposal for Arts Council England/BBC initiative The Space, lost out in the final funding round. Today I had a kind of post-rejection counselling session with a solicitous man from Arts Council England. In a scheduled phone call he explained how and why Points had come close – but not close enough. There’s a little more on that below, but I also want to sow the seed of a modest proposal. Which is that we make this blog a focus for discussion and critique of The Space across the summer months. (For background, see Mark Brown’s ‘Watch this space’ for the Guardian.) It is such an important attempt to find new media forms for the arts that it deserves concentrated critical attention during the six months from 1 May. So that’s what I intend to give it and its many projects – and I would love your help, whether in the form of discussion comments or in the contribution of more substantial reviews. I’ll return to that idea here in the coming weeks, and I hope we can together make the Illuminations blog a go-to place for thinking and talking about The Space.
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Lord St John, our saviour

Lord St John, our saviour

The late Lord St John of Fawsley, whose death was announced yesterday, is not perhaps the first person who you might expect to find celebrated here. As Norman St-John Stevas, he was a Tory minister for the arts and an early confidante of Margaret Thatcher. His politics were hardly ours, nor his religion – he was a prominent Roman Catholic. As for his personality, Edward Pearce, in his obituary for the Guardian, captures this well: ‘Mannered, self-applauding, with an aura of camp and given to tiffs and squabbles, he had outstanding intellectual gifts, vitiated, despite an underlay of real scholarship, by eternal public performance.’ Yet for several years he played an important part in my life, and in the development of Illuminations. Indeed, there is a very real sense in which LSJ, as we came affectionately to refer to him in private, was the company’s saviour.
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