Sunday links

13th September 2020

John Wyver writes: we’re in the midst of the online edit for Drama Out of a Crisis: A Celebration of Play for Today, to be seen on BBC Four in mid-October (and watch out for more about that here over the coming days), but there’s time to breathe and to compile this week’s links – thanks, as usual, to those in my Twitter who share great stuff.

The descent into political insanity: no apologies for kicking things off with Chris Grey’s latest, endeavouring to make sense of an extraordinary week through the #Brexit looking glass:

This represents a very serious moment, not just in the history of Brexit but in modern British political history more generally, and it is vital not to be inured to its significance by the continual outrageous acts of the Brexit governments. 

The right’s culture war is no longer a sideshow to our politics – it is our politics: such an important piece from Nesrine Malik for the Guardian:

culture-war skirmishes… are how rightwing electoral prospects are now advanced; not through policies or promises of a better life, but by fostering a sense of threat, a fantasy that something profoundly pure and British is constantly at risk of extinction. 

“Liberalism’s future now rests on a single question”: terrific Q&A at New Humanist with the excellent William Davies, author of This Is Not Normal: The Collapse of Liberal Britain.

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Sunday links

30th August 2020

John Wyver writes: links to articles and videos that have engaged and interested me over this last week of summer; thanks, as ever, to those in my Twitter feed who have highlighted good stuff.

Boris Johnson – the anti Prime Minister: exceptional writing from Jonathan Lis from Byline Times: ‘corruption at its most decadent: botching a crisis or destroying a national infrastructure not for political gain, nor even for financial reward, but ultimately for pure personal sport.’

Night and day: for New York Review of Books Fintan O’Toole is predictably excellent on Joe Biden and America today.

The bland, boring visuals of the Republican National Convention: this good piece by Emily VanDerWerff for Vox is as much notice as I’m prepared to give to RNC2020.

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Sunday links

22nd August 2020

John Wyver writes: apologies for missing last week, but here’s a new collection of stuff that I’ve found interesting and, in the case of the videos from #DNC2020, inspiring. Thanks, as always, to those in my Twitter timeline.

How the pandemic revealed Britain’s national illness: if you click on only a single link here, make it this one to Tom McTague’s brilliant analysis of our woes for The Atlantic.

• What happens if Donald Trump fights the election results?: for The New Yorker, Eric Lach tackles one of the most urgent questions of the moment – and not just for the States.

The plot writes itself: Sarah Churchwell on American fascism, in history and counterfactual, for TLS – terrific, but [£].

The Chicks – The Star-Spangled Banner: so much that’s great to share from 2020 Democratic National Convention, starting with this…

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‘Albion’ on screen

14th August 2020

John Wyver writes: Sunday evening on BBC Four sees the premiere of our screen version of the Almeida Theatre’s production of Albion. This is an Illuminations co-production with the Almeida Theatre and The Space for BBC Arts, and while the start time of 10.10pm is perhaps not the most congenial (the broadcast will finish at three minutes to 1am on Monday morning), the recording will then be on BBC iPlayer for 30 days. I recommend it warmly.

Albion on screen is an adaptation of Rupert Goold’s very fine stage production with Victoria Hamilton (above), Daisy Edgar-Jones and a dazzling cast of Mike Bartlett’s contemporary tale of memory, loss and identity. The screen director is Rhodri Huw, with whom we worked in 2018 on the Almeida’s Hamlet with Andrew Scott, and the associate producer is David Gopsill.

Paul Freeman is the camera supervisor and Andy Rose the sound supervisor. Sarah Hull is production manager, Morag Macintosh the vision mixer and Stephanie Rose script supervisor. The post-production edit was carried out by Steve Eveleigh at Bestlight Pictures along with David, the audio mix was done by Andy, and we worked with StormHD for finishing and file delivery.

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Sunday links

9th August 2020

John Wyver writes: more links to things that might interest you, or at least interested me over the past week – my usual thanks to those on Twitter who point me to great stuff.

How the pandemic defeated America: remarkable journalism from Ed Young for The Atlantic.

A historian of economic crisis on the world after COVID-19: Eric Levitz ranges widely in a conversation with Adam Tooze (whose compelling The Deluge: The Great War, America, and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931 I’m reading at present), for Intelligencer; this is Tooze on task facing historians (and the rest of us) today:

Our job is to stay awake to that fact and to stretch our minds as quickly as we can to encompass what is going on in front of our eyes — not to distract everyone by saying, “Oh, well, this reminds me dimly of something that happened in the early modern period.” My impulse isn’t to tell you that we’ve seen all this before; it’s to say we ain’t seen nothing yet.

Getting from November to January: really good, important, and scary on scenario modelling the transition – Nils Gilman at The American Interest.

The inferno and the mystery ship: exemplary reporting from Beirut by Rami Ruhayem in Beirut and Paul Adams in London for BBC News, and terrific interactive presentation.

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Sunday links

2nd August 2020

John Wyver writes: another weekend, another bunch of stuff that I have found interesting, illuminating and helpful; my thanks as always to those who point me to good things via Twitter and in other ways.

Looking back – what was important?: a truly remarkable reflection by the educator and scholar Jan Blommaert in response to his diagnosis of cancer stage 4 in March.

The end of the world as we know it: a wonderful essay for TLS by the great Bill McKibben about Covid-19, climate catastrophe — and hope. [£, but you get a limited number of articles free each month]

My near-death experience on a Covid-19 ward: moving words from John Burnside for New Statesman.

Disinformed to death: Jonathan Freedland for New York Review of Books on how we might respond to the dangers of fake news and the perils of a post-truth world.

The sociologist who could save us from Coronavirus: Adam Tooze (who I am reading more and more) on Ulrich Beck, author of Risk Society published in 1986, the year of Chernobyl:

Beck’s contribution in Risk Society was to offer a compelling sociological interpretation of th[e] pervasive sense of undefined but omnipresent threat, both as a matter of personal and collective experience and as a historical epoch. But more than that, Risk Society is a manifesto of sorts, proposing a novel attitude toward and politics for contemporary reality.

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Sunday links

26th July 2020

John Wyver writes: another selection of stuff that has caught my attention over the past week, kicking off with four essential analyses of contemporary geo-politics – as usual, I am more than grateful to those on my Twitter timeline and elsewhere who, explicitly or not, offer suggestions for inclusion.

Whose century?: for LRB, Adam Tooze reviews four recent books about, broadly, China and America, while spinning a breathtakingly broad overview of postwar global economics and security.

[PS. the latest LRB, from which Adam Tooze’s article comes, is a bulging suitcase of brilliant writing from, among others, Frances Stonor Saunders, William Davies, Randall Kennedy, Neal Ascherson and Linda Colley; £, of course, but worth every penny if you can afford it.]

Pompeo’s surreal speech on China: Thomas Wright for The Atlantic brings bang up to date Adam Tooze’s.

A ‘new start’ built on old lies: meanwhile looking to our our own backyard, here’s another recommendation for the latest from Chris Grey’s ‘The Brexit Blog’ – immaculate, anger-provoking political analysis of the highest order.

The great climate migration: and then looking a little further out, although not much, this is an exceptional interactive by Abrahm Lustgarten for The New York Times Magazine, with photographs by Meridith Kohut.

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Sunday links

19th July 2020

John Wyver writes: another group of links to articles, occasional videos and Twitter threads that have engaged and on occasion challenged me over the past week – thanks, as ever, are due to those on my Twitter feed that so unselfishly recommend great writing and reading.

• John Lewis was an American founder: lots of exceptional writing this weekend about the late and truly great activist, and this is among the best, by Adam Serwer for The Atlantic.

‘White fragility’ is everywhere. But does antiracism training work?: complex writing on a complex topic – Daniel Bergner on the works and teachings of Robin DiAngelo, for The New York Times.

Rethinking collections research: ‘Head of Collections [at Science Museum Group] Tilly Blyth examines how the choices we make about what to research can help us to understand the role objects in our collection had in supporting colonial structures and the new roles the collection might play in creating spaces that are open for everyone.’

Flailing states: a wide-ranging, coruscating LRB essay about Anglo-America from Pankaj Mishra.

• Let them eat cake: for Avidly, this is excellent by Adam Fales about consumption, anti-capitalism and this…

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Sunday links

12th July 2020

John Wyver writes: the usual suggestions about articles, together with occasional videos and tweets, that have engaged and informed me over the past week. My thanks, as is also customary, to those on Twitter and elsewhere who have alerted me to likely candidates.

A theme park of Donald Trump’s dreams: was it only a week ago that 45 ordered into existence ‘a statuary park named the National Garden of American Heroes’? Masha Gessen for The New Yorker is the piece you need to read on this truly bizarre notion:

This is America as Trump sees it: a skeletal, heroic history, with a lot of shooting, a lot of flying, and very little government. Excluded from this history entirely are Native Americans… The proposed park, in other words, is one of settler-colonialist history.

The last reporter in town had one big question for his rich boss: wonderful writing from Dan Barry (with photographs and video by Haruka Sakaguchi) for The New York Times in a profile of Evan Brandt, the lone reporter keeping a local news operation alive, just.

How can the press best serve a democratic society?: the intro to Michael Luo’s fascinating article for The New Yorker sums it up well: ‘In the nineteen-forties, a panel of scholars struggled over truth in reporting, the marketplace of ideas, and the maintenance of a free and responsible press. Their deliberations are more relevant than ever.’

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Obi Egbuna and the BBC: the story continued

10th July 2020

John Wyver writes: My previous post ‘Earl Cameron and a lost play’ traced my research explorations prompted by a repeat transmission in 1971 as a Play for Today of a 1968 BBC (now lost) production of Wind Versus Polygamy by Obi Egbuna. I sketched the context for what was one of the first dramas by a Black writer to be produced by the BBC for both radio and television, and I included brief mentions of Obi Egbuna’s life in Britain at the end of the 1960s. What I want to do in this second post is outline a little more of the that remarkable story and its political context, as well as highight two notable occasions when the playwright’s story became entwined with the workings of the BBC. Incidentally, I remain uncertain of the occasion of the BBC photograph above of Obi Egbuna with Peggy Ashcroft, but Nick Stanton’s Comment below (for which many thanks) gets us a lot closer to it than we have been previously.

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