I was acting and directing at Helmsley Arts Centre last week, in a little piece of ‘café theatre’ performed in the bar to an audience of only 50. But it was a sell-out every night and, I hope, a light-hearted distraction for the citizens of my Yorkshire town from all that gloomy talk about cuts, more cuts — and who deserves to be cut most.
Sometimes an exhibition does what it says on the tin. The Pre-Raphaelites and Italy, the Ashmolean’s first major show post-revamp, is such an exhibition.
In an upstairs room in an unfrequented corner of Zurich’s Kunsthaus, there is a portrait of one of the unsung heroes of modern art.
‘Museum decides against building new extension’ is not the stuff of newspaper headlines, so most of you will be unaware that the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff has been creating a distinct museum of art on the top floor of its existing Edwardian building. A few weeks ago, the Welsh museum relaunched its Impressionist and Modern galleries after an imaginative paint job and a rehang, and next year it will open a new suite of contemporary galleries in its former archaeology wing. For £6.5 million — £1 million from the Welsh Assembly government — it will have bought itself 40 per cent more space (comparing favourably with another national museum currently poised to pour £50 million of Department of Culture, Media and Sport money into a hole in the ground in Bankside). But the National Museum Cardiff can afford to economise. It doesn’t need flash architecture to attract attention; its collections are attraction enough.
Without warning, Tomas Alfredson jumps up and starts wading about the room like a water bird treading over lily pads.
One surefire sign of maturity is the acceptance that you have friends who are more talented than you are.
One of the few professional stand-up comics I’ve met who wasn’t bitter, twisted, malign, graceless, grumpy, chippy, egomaniacal and slightly to the left of Stalin is Mark Billingham.
Regime change at Hampstead Theatre. The era of special measures is over and Ed Hall, son of Sir Peter, has taken charge. Hall’s debut show is daring in its complete lack of audacity.
On the southern edge of Manchester, a few miles from the airport, there is a commuter town where the Victorian novel remains very much alive.
Promised EndLinbury Studio, in rep until 16 NovemberRadamistoEnglish National Opera, in rep until 4 November‘There is perhaps no play which keeps the attention so strongly fixed; which so much agitates our passions and interests our curiosity.
In the first retrospective of his work for nearly 40 years, Peter Lanyon (1918–64) is given the kind of recognition long his due.
Who’s my favourite stage actress? Since you ask, Olivia Williams in Shakespeare and Nancy Carroll in anything.
From the start, the combatively worded motion — ‘Time for the arts to stand on its own two feet and stop sponging off the tax-payer’ — came under attack in the Spectator arts debate at Church House last month.
Really? This was necessary? Why? What’s the point? OK, I suppose revisiting Wall Street all these years later is timely, given the banking crisis and resultant global meltdown.
As regular readers of this column will know, I am not an admirer of large exhibitions.