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21 March 2018 @ 12:54 pm
Since I posted about the removal of Waterhouse's painting before, it's only fair to post a follow-up piece from the Guardian:

‘The vitriol was really unhealthy’: artist Sonia Boyce on the row over taking down Hylas and the Nymphs

The problem here, as I understand it from, y'know, the one article I read about this decision when it first happened, was that the museum was spectacularly unclear about whether the painting was being permanently removed, or whether it would only return if there were enough comments in favor of its reinstatement, or whether it was simply being removed for a certain amount of time. (Taking all the postcards of the painting out of the gift shop also didn't help here: is that part of whatever "artistic act" the removal is meant to be, or has the museum decided that the painting shouldn't be on display at all?)

I went back and reread the Guardian's first article about this*, and they may have a hand in the lack of clarity about the museum's intent, but it also sounds like the curator the reporter spoke to was unhelpfully cagey: while the article does say that "[t]he removal itself is an artistic act and will feature in a solo show by the artist Sonia Boyce which opens in March,"** Clare Gannaway, curator of contemporary art at the Manchester Art Gallery, is quoted as saying that the decision to remove the painting was informed by the #MeToo movement (which makes it sound much more like a rush job than something that had been in the works for some time), and then says of the painting itself, "We think it probably will return, yes, but hopefully contextualised quite differently. It is not just about that one painting, it is the whole context of the ["Pursuit of Beauty"] gallery.” If the plan was always to put the painting back up at a predetermined time, why not just say that - unless you're trying to stoke outrage? Why "probably," if you know you're planning to bring the painting back?

*located here: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/jan/31/manchester-art-gallery-removes-waterhouse-naked-nymphs-painting-prompt-conversation?CMP=share_btn_tw

**Even that doesn't help all that much, to be honest, because "the removal is an artistic act" does not equal "the painting will be put back up." In the comments to the later article (I know, I know, don't read the comments), someone posted a picture of the notice that was put up when the Waterhouse was taken down, and it's similarly unclear: there's a lot of talk about "filming an artistic takeover" of the gallery...but still nothing to tell the public whether the painting is ever being put back up, or whether another work will go up in its place.
11 March 2018 @ 11:14 am
From an interview with Christopher Eccleston, on playing Macbeth:

There’s no doubt that [director] Polly Findlay wanted me in this role because of what I bring, the things we’re talking about. And without jemmying it in, there are definitely things I can access – about being very capable, but being overlooked. Macbeth is fantastic at his job. He lays his life on the line, and then he sees a chinless, milky blue-blood become King of Scotland. So of course I’m going to use that.


I mean...

This is one of those modern things that always feels a bit off to me: the idea that you can map the modern idea of jobs and promotion onto early modern ideas of kingship and hierarchy, and not lose something in the translation. (This is, in fact, what made the early parts of Polly Findlay's recent As You Like It at the National Theatre feel nonsensical to me when I saw it via NT Live: the court doesn't really make sense as a trading floor, and being banished is manifestly not the same thing as losing your job - and the loyalty one is expected to have for one's duke or king doesn't really have an analogue in today's job market. It doesn't really make sense to suggest that Macbeth is somehow being passed over for being king, when that's not how kingship works. (I suppose that doesn't mean that Macbeth might not feel aggrieved, but it's not like Duncan was going to announce that Macbeth was his heir and then didn't, or something. And Duncan has already given Macbeth what is in his power to give; he makes Macbeth thane of Cawdor as an explicit reward for his services in battle.)

That said, I thought that BBC adaptation of Macbeth starring James McAvoy (you know the one: "Pigs are landing on my head!") did manage to make this idea work, precisely because the stakes of the adaptation weren't about kingship or rule, but about Joe Macbeth giving his heart and soul to the restaurant he worked in, fully expecting for it to come to him when the owner retired - and then being passed over for the owner's son, who barely knew anything about the place. That made sense, in a way that "Macbeth being fantastic at his job" never quite does, if Duncan is still king, and not some kind of military dictator (though that guts the fact that Duncan, even by Macbeth's own admission, is supposed to be a leader who "hath borne his faculties so meek" and been "so clear in his great office" that his "virtues will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued" against his murder...).

It's just weird to me, is all. Macbeth himself tells us point-blank that he has no reason save "vaulting ambition" to contemplate murdering Duncan; why is everyone so unwilling to believe him? Why is it so hard to believe that Macbeth could want power without his thinking that he is entitled to it - without his thinking that someone should already have given it to him, and he's just taking what he deserves?
09 March 2018 @ 11:40 am
An interview with Samuel Barnett, who is currently in Kiss of the Spider Woman at the Menier Chocolate Factory:

Most of Barnett’s twenties were taken up by playing Posner in the History Boys, a “gay, small, Jewish” sixth-former from Sheffield trying to get into Oxbridge. He never gets bored of talking about it.

“It was such an extraordinary part of my life,” he says. There’s a fondness in his voice when he talks about it; the cast — which included James Corden, Dominic Cooper and Jamie Parker — are “like family”.

He realised retrospectively that playing an unhappy teenager every night from the age of 24 to 27 had made him feel “a bit stunted” and that when it finished he felt he “physically changed”. But it was also something that he didn’t want to end — Alan Bennett wrote in his diaries that Barnett fought back tears while delivering his lines for the final performance.

“And now we’re all getting married and having babies,” he smiles.

But, contrary to the fandom’s wishes, none of them are getting married to each other. There’s a blog documenting every tweet Barnett and co-star Jamie Parker have written to each other. “Jamie texted me a link to it saying, ‘you need to look at this’, and we were both like, ooh dear! There’s so much Dirk Gently stuff too. It’s amazing how people want to homoeroticise or sexualise things.”


I am concerned that Sam and Jamie know about the tweet Tumblr...
03 March 2018 @ 11:08 pm
Not sure how I feel about this:

Re-enter Sandman: Neil Gaiman's comics return with new writers

I haven't really been interested in Neil Gaiman's work the way I used to be for a few years now, but Sandman was near and dear to me, and there were so many unexplored pockets in that universe... (I used to say all the time that I would read a novel about Lucien the librarian in a heartbeat.) But the description of the new work given in the article sounds fairly dull:
The first comic opens as Daniel, the Lord of Dreams, has gone missing, with a rift between worlds revealing a space beyond his domain, the Dreaming, according to Vertigo. “Lucifer has fallen again, only this time he might be in a hell of his own design. And in London, a young boy named Timothy Hunter sleeps: in his dreams he becomes the world’s most powerful magician, but in his nightmares he becomes the world’s worst villain. Which future will become reality?” Following on will be Spurrier’s The Dreaming and Hopkinson’s House of Whispers, due to be published in September, then Watters’s Lucifer and Howard’s Books of Magic in October.

Of all the many stories you could choose to tell in the world of Sandman - or all the new ones you could invent, given how flexible the concept is - why would you choose to tell ones that have already been told multiple times? Lucifer had a spin-off series (possibly more than one? I don't really understand comics?), and Tim Hunter (whom I wouldn't consider really a part of the Sandman universe...although he does meet Death at one point) had Gaiman's original Books of Magic mini and a series of the same name. (I never did finish reading the latter, because it was too hard to get my hands on the comics back when I was in college, and Vertigo never did finish collecting them in graphic novel format, but I was quite fond of it for a while - though possibly mostly for Molly O'Reilly; I feel like I lost interest when they wrote her out. Anyway.)

I mean, who knows - you have to introduce a series somehow, and it'll probably be more interesting than this summary, but meh.
03 March 2018 @ 04:25 pm
The RSC announced that they'll be screening Macbeth with Christopher Eccleston in cinemas:

I've actually had terrible luck with seeing RSC productions in cinemas over the last few years, since the two places that used to screen them around here have more or less ceased doing so (and purchasing the subsequent DVDs is too expensive for productions I don't know that I'll enjoy or want to watch again), but you should keep an eye out in your neck of the woods.
01 February 2018 @ 07:38 pm
There is probably a much more articulate response to have to this, but, nah - just booooooooo:

Gallery removes naked nymphs painting to 'prompt conversation'
Manchester Art Gallery takes down work by Waterhouse and asks public to post reactions


I once wrote a story that was partly prompted by this painting (Hylas and the Nymphs), back in college... Look, it was a weird time, I was reading a lot of nineteenth-century literature, I read "The Goblin Market" for the first time, things happen. At any rate, it means I am hardly objective about Waterhouse, whom I've loved since high school. But this seems like a particularly unhelpful response to the #MeToo movement, to me.
27 January 2018 @ 04:29 pm
Photos from the Bridge Theatre's just-opened production of Julius Caesar:

If Ben Whishaw is going to play Brutus as all scholarly and ardent and distracted (see top photo), I am going to be in trouble.

The production is screening via NT Live, so you may want to check for screenings in your area:
15 January 2018 @ 07:20 pm
Found via Twitter: a BBC radio production of 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, starring Jessie Buckley (Miranda to Roger Allam's Prospero at the Globe) and Damien Molony (and Indira Varma):


I have exams to grade, so I can't listen to it now, but there are still 21 days left!
14 January 2018 @ 10:18 pm
Oh, I wish I could go to this exhibition at the National Gallery in London:

Reflections: Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites

(also, apparently I can't type the word "reflections" without singing the Supremes, so that is a thing I just learned about myself.)

Anyway. The exhibition is on until April 2, if you are anywhere nearby and enjoy the PRB or the Arnolfini Portrait.
13 January 2018 @ 12:49 pm
I haven't been able to bring myself to read Ian Mortimer's and Matt Haig's recent books about immortal people, for personal reasons (there was a story I started once that I thought I might finish, and though that's clearly never going to happen, it's still a tender spot), but under other circumstances, I would be utterly into this.

Here is another book I just found out about:

The 1,000-Year Old Boy by Ross Welford:

Alfie Monk is like any other nearly teenage boy - except he's 1,000 years old and can remember the last Viking invasion of England.

Obviously no one believes him.

So when everything Alfie knows and loves is destroyed in a fire, and the modern world comes crashing in, Alfie embarks on a mission to find friendship, acceptance, and a different way to live...

... which means finding a way to make sure he will eventually die.