‘Let us share thy thoughts’

19th November 2013

Last night saw the first round of Richard II Live from Stratford-upon-Avon Encore screenings. Which meant that I woke up to another round of wonderfully enthusiastic #RSCRichardII Twitter responses. The RSC has had a brilliant response to its request for feedback of all kinds, including the online survey here. Some of the most detailed accounts of what people thought and how the experience might be improved are on personal blogs – and these reports are invaluable to us. Below I have linked to and excerpted from nine of those that I have tracked down so far. (You can also find a full page of review and resource links here.) It can be quite hard finding blog posts like this – they tend to be a long way down in Google searches – so if there are others out there, do please let me know.

Update: in advance of the US screenings Entertainment Weekly has posted a 5-minute ‘teaser’ extract from the broadcast.

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[ ]amin Britten on Cam[ ]

18th November 2013

Each time I return grumpily to the topic of today’s post I feel the need to apologise to regular readers. I know that I have taken on several times before the vandalism represented by forcing 4:3 archive footage into contemporary 16:9 frames, but Saturday night’s Benjamin Britten on Camera (available on BBC iPlayer until 28 November) cries out for attention. This is an intelligent programme about the relationship between the composer and the BBC during the late 1950s and ’60s and it features a wonderful selection of gems from the Corporation’s archives. read more »

Links for the weekend

17th November 2013

With the RSC Live from Stratford-upon-Avon broadcast on Wednesday, it’s been a busy and fairly intense week. One lovely and sort-of-related online offering this week is the full audio track from the RSC’s Midsummer Night’s Dreaming event with Google back in the summer, which is now available on SoundCloud. Which gives me an excuse to showcase the image above from a recent Radio 3 blog post which is a detail from a publicity image of a 1937 BBC television production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  And what else can I find in scrabbling around among its online ruins? Across the jump is a selection, including some for which thanks are due to @stevenbjohnson, @matlock@drszucker, @KeyframeDaily and @ProfShakespeare. read more »

Memories of The Marlowe

15th November 2013

‘A while to work, and after holiday.’ So today was my holiday after Wednesday’s Richard II broadcast (there will be more posts about it next week), and in glorious sunshine I drove towards Canterbury, visiting a couple of churches on the way (an occasional pastime of mine) and seeing my Aunt Jean and cousin Jonathan, and intending to spend the night in the cathedral city. I wanted to see Fiona Shaw’s production with Glyndebourne Touring Opera of Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, from which I’ve just come. And splendid it was too – clear, direct, intense, powerful, finely sung (particular plaudits to Andrew Dickinson and Claudia Huckle) and beautifully played by a small band under impossibly young-looking conductor Jack Ridley. I also wanted to see the new Marlowe Theatre, which opened in the summer of 2011 but which I’d not previously had the chance to visit. Me and the Marlowe go back a long way. read more »

‘… and there an end’

14th November 2013

Slowly trying to make sense of last night. In many ways the broadcast was immaculate – it looked great and, in the OB truck, it sounded great. There were no significant problems in Stratford but I know that a small number of cinemas around the country had local difficulties. A very few screenings were cancelled and one or two other cinemas had problems with the sound. With the RSC’s distribution partner Picturehouse Entertainment we are investigating where we can. But in most venues it seems to have been a bit of a triumph. Through this evening I aim to draw together some of the reactions and add a few first reflections. read more »

‘Think what you will’ [Updated]

11th November 2013

This is the post I’m using to chronicle events up to Wednesday evening; you can also follow how things are unfolding via @livefromSuA, @TheRSC and @Illuminations.

Everyone is returning and we’re about to do a final check on the insert films and the top of the show. I think I’ll sign off now – and wish everyone a great show!

I’m almost alone in the OB truck. Everyone else is at the spicy chilli. How worried should I be with less than 45 minutes before we start transmitting? At some point I’m going to stop Tweeting and start “producing”, although I’m not entirely sure that I know the difference between the two activities.

And, gentle readers, this is me – in the latest production diary, filmed on Monday… many thanks to James Oprey and his RSC colleagues for this and all the other excellent diary pieces, as well as tonight’s two insert films.

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Links for the weekend

10th November 2013

If you see just one thing in the cinema this week, make sure it’s the RSC’s Live from Stratford-upon-Avon Richard II on Wednesday. But your second cinema visit has to be the astonishing Gravity, with Sandra Bullock (above). (Apologies to readers abroad; your chance to see Richard II will come soon, and in the States at least Gravity is so October.) Among the excellent reading available (but experience the film first, and in 3D) is the following:
Gravity – a review: a good introduction by Matt Zoller Seitz at RogerEbert.com.
Why Gravity director Alfonso Cuarón will never make a space movie again: a very good Wired interview by Caitlin Roper.
Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón talks creating space epic: another useful interview, with Anne Thompson at indiewire.
Drowning in the digital abyss: J. Hoberman hymns the film for The New York Review of Books.
• Gravity and the power of narrative limits: Jason Mittel at Just TV on just how unconventional a mainstream movie this is.
Two characters adrift in an experimental film, part one: Kristin Thompson on the film’s links with the avant-garde and its minimal plot (with a second blog post on the way).
The hero’s journey of Dr Ryan Stone – children, visual storytelling and miraculous rebirth in Gravity: Christopher Dole on just what the film shows us.
Gravity – vfx that’s anything down to earth: Mike Seymour with an article for fxguide that is full of great details about how it was all done.
Gravity – a 3D movie about 3D movies: Hsuan Hsu at Avidly offers a rich range of comparisons for the way the film treats 3D.
Satellite of love – Jonás Cuarón’s Aningaaq: at his Film Lounge Neil Young writes about the semi-unofficial ‘companion-piece’ made by Gravity’s co-writer (Alfonso and Jonás are father and son).
Managing Gravity’s workflow: … and this one, from Nick Dager at Digital Cinema Report, is for the techies, and is fascinating about file sizes.
Below the fold are further links about film, Shakespeare and more, with thanks to @mia_out@KeyframeDaily, @lukemckernan@TheBrowser and @petermarkadams. read more »

‘Lords, be ready all’ [Updated]

4th November 2013

Uncertain as I am about whether the details of the RSC Richard II Live from Stratford-upon-Avon production schedule are really of any interest, I took a stab at chronicling that on Sunday, and I’ll continue that today. Later today we will run a rehearsal of the full production in front of the cameras. This will allow us to test all of the equipment and the plans of screen director Robin Lough, as well to check how costumes and make-up look on screen. So let me see if I can continue to capture something of the process of getting a complex live broadcast production into (and out of) the Royal Shakespeare Theatre – and if this is your first visit, read from the bottom up.


5.50pm: One of our key concerns has been whether we have sufficient time to strike the camera equipment from the theatre and return all the removed seats before the show this evening. We had scheduled a 90-minute period for this after the rehearsal, and there had been much musing on whether this was sufficient. In fact, the crane was clear of the auditorium within 50 minutes and the whole operations was completed within 80. Job done, and we started our informal review process over a pint in the Dirty Duck. The company, however, has to play again this evening. read more »

Links for the weekend

3rd November 2013

Read of the week – if ‘read’ is the right word – has to be the Guardian’s remarkable round-up of the implications of the Snowden revelations in its digital presentation NSA Files: Decoded. You should also most definitely read editor Alan Rusbridger’s essay for the New York Review of Books, The Snowden leaks and the public. The above image comes from the Guardian’s online multiple media presentation, which features text, images, video and audio as well as inforgraphics and other interactive elements. The authors are Ewan Macaskill and Gabriel Dance, with producers Feilding Cage and Greg Chen. If you care about the future of serious journalism, take a look (although you almost certainly have), and click also on this week’s New York Times feature with a similar strategy, Forging an art market in China. In this fascinating and beautifully presented report David Barboza, Graham Bowley and Amanda Cox explore the problems of China’s auction houses, dealers and forgers. For other links across the jump, thanks go to @jeremy_millar_1, @lukemckernan, @RalphRivera@KnightLAT@annehelen and @alexismadrigal. read more »

Fifty years on

2nd November 2013

Far be it from me to rain on the National Theatre’s fiftieth birthday parade, but allow me to make a few slightly-less-than-gushing remarks about the recent two-part Arena documentary and tonight’s compilation album of extracts. (The two films are on BBC iPlayer for the next four days: The Dream here and War and Peace here – and you have a week to re-run the live gala 50 Years on Stage here.) It has been thrilling to see British theatre given such attention when by and large it remains one of the artforms that is less present than it might be on television. But I have to say that I have found all the self-congratulation just a touch too cloying. read more »