World War I poets on stage


This theatre video from England is called Pat Barker‘s Regeneration adapted by Nicholas Wright.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Anthem for souls in conflict

Thursday 18th September 2014

Peter Frost recommends Regeneration, a dark vision of the psychological horrors endured by soldiers in WWI

Regeneration, Royal and Derngate Theatre, Northampton

4/5

Novelist Pat Barker won a Booker prize for The Ghost Road, the third book in her Regeneration trilogy set in the first world war.

Now Nicholas Wright has adapted the novels for the stage and the result is thought-provoking and disturbing.

Virtually all the action takes place in the Craiglockhart war hospital in Scotland — a sombre asylum for officers with shell-shock — in 1917.

Soldier-poet Siegfried Sassoon (Tim Delap) has been sent there ostensibly because he is insane but in reality the War Office has put him away to discredit his anti-war poems and pronouncements.

Army psychiatrist Doctor William Rivers, beautifully played by Stephen Boxer, has the job of curing the shell-shocked officers, suffering from what is now understood to be post-traumatic stress disorder — or at least getting them fit enough to return to the trenches.

His sessions with Sassoon force him to consider the morality of what he is doing in the name of medicine. Some of the treatments employed are little short of torture.

We witness Sassoon and Wilfred Owen (Garmon Rhys) tussling over one of the latter’s poems — Anthem for Doomed Youth — before both men decide to return to the front.

Sassoon, Rivers and Owen are all drawn from history but the one individual who provides a more realistic view of the madness of war is the fictional character of grammar school boy Billy Prior (Jack Monaghan) from the “lower orders.”

A compelling look at the futility of war, the play is a reminder too that even in the horror of an asylum the officer class still get a round of golf in or take dinner at the Conservative club.

Sassoon, wounded by friendly fire, would live until the 1960s while Owen died exactly one week before the war ended.

His mother received the fateful telegram just as the church bells in her village started ringing out to celebrate victory.

A bitter irony, entirely in keeping with this commendable production.

Runs until September 20, box office: royalandderngate.co.uk, then tours nationwide.

Latino eco-festival in Colorado, USA


This video from the USA is called 1st Americas Latino Eco Festival 2013 ALEF.

By Sara Bernard in the USA:

Latino eco-festival hosts big stars, bigger ideas

9 Sep 2014 7:02 AM

Irene Vilar has always felt a strong pull towards social change. In fact, activism is in her blood: In 1954, the book publisher and award-winning author’s grandmother went to jail in the name of Puerto Rican independence. Sixty years later, Vilar wants to tackle the biggest social change campaign on the planet: the one that’s trying to save it.

In 2007, Vilar founded the nonprofit Americas for Conservation + the Arts, a Latin America-focused arts and education network, and last year, she launched Americas Latino Eco Festival, the U.S.’s first-ever Latino-themed enviro fest. The second ALEF kicks off this week, from September 11-16 in Boulder, Colo.

Vilar’s event is nothing if not ambitious. Dubbed a “Latino South by Southwest,” ALEF is “a high-end festival of ideas,” she says, complete with Grammy Award-winning musicians, Broadway actors, documentary filmmakers, Newbery Award-winning illustrators, educators, visual artists, chefs, and activists. But she’s also brought in high-profile environmental leaders of all stripes to talk about everything from fossil fuels to GMOs, environmental justice to water scarcity.

The event’s co-sponsors include the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign and Boulder-based The Dairy Center for the Arts. Speakers include Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, actors and environmentalists Edward James Olmos and Ed Begley Jr., Mexican-American climate scientist Patricia Romero Lankao (one of the recipients of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize alongside Al Gore), and environmental justice scholar Dorceta Taylor (whom Grist interviewed a few months back). In addition to all the film screenings and art exhibits and discussion panels, there’s an entire art-and-workshop-filled K-12 education component, too — which could have been, Vilar says, “a whole festival in itself” — focused on how climate change affects bird migration.

Gathering the resources for such a monumental showcase is no simple task (Vilar’s team is still a few thousand in the red from last year’s fest, and as of a few weeks ago, was still looking for the last bit of funding for this one), but that has no bearing on its tenacity — or its success. They’ve raised double what they raised last year and have attracted a slew of green- and Latino-minded sponsors, including Whole Foods, Patagonia, Telemundo, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

For Vilar, money is not what’s at stake: It’s our planet, ourselves, and the importance of actively engaging all communities, particularly communities of color, in the conversation about climate change. “I cannot afford to start small,” she says. “It needs to be fast. Super fast. We’ve got to create a precedent, and then see what happens.”

We caught up with Vilar to talk about how the festival got started, why Latinos in particular are concerned about the environment, how talking about climate change can be an umbrella for talking about social change, and why it’s more crucial than ever to include everyone in these discussions. Here’s an edited and condensed version of what she had to say:

On why book publishing is still important — but not enough:

For the last 20 years, I’ve edited a book series that publishes minority writers of the Americas. We publish literature in translation. Less than 1 percent of people in the United States read literature in translation. [*Editor's note: That's tough to quantify, but it's true that less than 1 percent of all fiction and poetry published in the U.S. is in translation.] As a publisher, you’re impacting culture in a very slow way. A book takes about 10 years to penetrate culture. What needs to be done now is raising awareness through bringing people together, creating noise, and gathering once a year to create a platform and raise our voices.

On diversity in the environmental movement:

Being in Colorado, and being in Boulder, one of the greenest cities in America, I wanted to get involved more with the environmental movement. Everywhere you go there’s an organization or a flier. I would go to meetings and show up sometimes, but I felt really disconnected.

There are these campaigns of misinformation that make people believe they’re not qualified to participate. You have this incredible disproportion between the actual multicultural fabric of the country and all these institutions: higher education, conservation organizations, politics, Hollywood. The country has been brown for a long time, but these institutions do not represent the brown face of the country. When that happens, my children grow up feeling like they do not belong.

We all talk about diversity, but diversity and inclusion are two different things.  We have to reach across borders. We have to reconnect with our cultures of origin. Natural resources have no national borders. Our entire future depends on the extent to which we engage communities of color. If we don’t do that, there’s no future.

On Latinos as huge environmentalists:

Over 90 percent of Latinos believe in [human-caused] climate change; that’s compared to about 50 percent of Americans in general.

When I was doing research for the festival, my first impression was to buy the story we are sold — that there is no Latino leader in the environmental movement. What I discovered is that the supply is there. I realized that it’s not about educating our communities, but the white communities! It’s more about educating them and validating us. There are a few issues; one of them is that the environmental movement is looking for PhDs. Our community is underserved. Many of my friends have grandfathers and fathers and mothers that have not even high school degrees, but we’re great conservation leaders.

By 2050, 30 percent of this country will be Hispanic. In Colorado, 52 percent of the high schoolers will be Hispanic. And in the last two years, amazing things have been happening. Things are moving very fast. Green LatinosNRDC, the League of Conservation Voters (it has wonderful Spanish language outreach), HECHO, the Hispanic Access FoundationVoces VerdesLatino Outdoors: We’re bringing them all to the festival.

On why Latinos are huge environmentalists:

Because we are living it in our skin, because we suffer from it. Latin Americans and African Americans are disproportionately affected by pollution, especially clean air. They suffer more than whites from asthma. They live in the most polluted cities. The big bulk of these communities, especially Latin Americans, are working outdoors, in agriculture. They’re exposed to sun, to climate change, to pesticides and chemicals.

And we come from societies that have a huge respect for science. In Latin America, science is huge. We look up to science. We want our children to be scientists.

Latin Americans also come from a very ecological tradition. Indigenous elements survive in our cultures, in our crafts, in our extended families. We have a legacy of recycle, reuse, upcycle because we cannot afford to dispose of anything or anyone.

On social justice and climate change:

Racism, social justice, human rights: climate change is something that unites all these platforms.  The reality of climate change made me sensitive to the fact that this gathering has to be framed around the environment. It’s the issue of the moment — and of the future. It’s also a wonderful platform to talk about these other issues.

When we talk about social justice, we need to be framing it in ways that don’t create fear, create walls. We’re all mothers, no matter what. Immigrant or no immigrant, we want our children to breathe good air, eat real food, and have access to clean water. We can talk about social justice, immigration, and all these issues that are very important, but the environmental platform will kind of dilute the defenses.

On the fact that people do care:

Last year was wonderful. We were able to rely on human capital, which proved to me that the product that we were launching — the multicultural Latino eco-festival — was filling a huge void. We saw a lot of excitement from people.

And the most inspiring thing is to really have an experience of what social capital is. The festival happened in its first year and is happening now only because of the power of people, of social capital. You have to stick by that because the element of disbelief can be so big in enterprises of this nature. As a mother of two Latina girls, I ask myself, how is the world going to be for them when they’re my age? Sometimes I feel hopeless. But I’ve discovered that there is hope.

Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner poem on stage


This video from Britain says about itself:

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge ~ Full Version

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (originally The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere) is the longest major poem by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, written in 1797–98 and published in 1798 in the first edition of Lyrical Ballads.

By Indianna Purcell in England:

Memorable rebranding of Coleridge

Saturday 13th September 2014

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
South Bank Centre, London SE1

5/5

IT WOULD seem that there’s nothing too ambitious for Britain’s darkest warbling cult trio The Tiger Lillies. And thank goodness for that as their latest project — premiered in France over two years ago — is one of their most spellbinding shows in recent times.

Having embarked on projects such as transforming WWI poetry into songs or a macabre classic German children’s book into an even more sinister musical, The Tiger Lillies now take on Samuel Coleridge’s epic poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Along with Mark Holthusen’s stunning visual effects, they transform it into a unique, haunting and effortlessly graceful stage production.

Coleridge’s eerie crime-and-punishment classic recounts the tale of a mariner who narrates his nightmare sea voyage where, having shot an albatross, he’s forced to wear it round his neck in penance by his fellow sailors, who ultimately all perish.

In bringing that morbid tale to life, lead singer and accordionist extraordinaire Jacques grimaces through his usual glass-breaking vocal range, with many of the 20 seductive songs sounding sombre in comparison to the Lillies’ usual circus-style cabaret tracks.

In contrast with many of their shows where the group perform on a stage with minimal visual effects, relying more on their own startling stage presence, this time they perform behind a screen of animated handmade puppets. It’s a puppet theatre which they memorably transform into a work of nightmarish art.

Poem about World War I, by Attila the Stockbroker


This video is called Attila the Stockbroker – A Centenary War Poem For My Father Bill Baine, 1899 – 1968.

By poet Attila the Stockbroker from Britain:

Cheers for proud Hull, punking about in Brussels and a poem

Saturday 13th September 2014

On the road with Attila the Stockbroker

LAST weekend I was on at the Freedom Festival in Hull, and what a wonderfully organised and vibrant event it was.

Set in the old streets of the historic port area and featuring loads of diverse bands, poets, dancers — you name it — all washed down with a fine selection of local beers and food from all over the world.

Hull is Britain’s City of Culture for 2017 and has had a vibrant scene for years. It also hosts my favourite venue the Adelphi, basically a hollowed-out terraced house next to a bomb site. It’s been presided over for 30 years by the indefatigable and inspirational Paul “Jacko” Jackson and spawned loads of household names in the independent music scene from the Housemartins to Pulp to Death by Milkfloat, to name but a few.

What d’you mean, you haven’t heard of Death by Milkfloat? Legends, comrades, legends.

Best T shirt of that weekend: “Welcome to Hull, European City of Culture 2017. We’re not shit any more.” You never were, Hull, you’re great.

This music video from Belgium is the song Nuit blanche, by the band Contingent.

I’ve just been playing bass in Brussels with Contingent, the punk band I joined there in 1979. They still gig occasionally — and incendiarally — and we’re supporting Sham 69 at a celebration of the 20th anniversary of Magasin 4, the alternative venue set up by our late, great guitarist Eric Lemaitre. Belgian beer awaits in vats – and then I’m off with my wife for a week’s holiday in Marseille.

I wanted to use this poem in my column at the actual anniversary of the start of world War I, but so much was going on gig-wise then that I decided to hold it back for the relatively relaxed few weeks between the end of the festival season and the start of my autumn touring, where it could have pride of place.

It is a true and unusual story — and a poem from the heart.

A Centenary War Poem

For my father, Bill Baine

“What passing-bells for those who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.”
And so some lines to spike centenary prattle:
These words a sole survivor soldier’s son’s.

My father Bill, born in Victorian England:
The sixth of January, 1899.
His stock, loyal London. Proletarian doff-cap.
Aged seventeen, he went to join the line.

Not in a war to end all wars forever
Just in a ghastly slaughter at the Somme
A pointless feud, a royal family squabble
Fought by their proxy poor with gun and bomb.

My father saved. Pyrexia, unknown origin.
Front line battalion: he lay sick in bed.
His comrades formed their line, then came the whistle
And then the news that every one was dead.

In later life a polished comic poet
No words to us expressed that awful fear
Although we knew such things were not forgotten.
He dreamed Sassoon: he wrote Belloc and Lear.

When I was ten he died, but I remember,
Although just once, he’d hinted at the truth.
He put down Henry King and Jabberwocky
And read me Owen’s “Anthem For Doomed Youth”.

“What passing-bells for those who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.”
And so some lines to spike Gove’s mindless prattle:

These words a sole survivor soldier’s son’s.

William Shakespeare sonnet on building


Shakespeare sonnet on building, 8 September 2014

There are poems on various buildings in Leiden city in the Netherlands. This one, in the inner city, is William Shakespeare‘s Sonnet XXX.

Shakespeare sonnet, 8 September 2014

These are cellphone photos.

Spanish government’s 18th century history censorship in the Netherlands


The book Victus by Albert Sánchez Piñol

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Spain bans lecture in Utrecht

Thursday Sep 4 2014, 20:03 (Update: 04-09-14, 20:33)

A lecture by the Catalan author Albert Sánchez Piñol in Utrecht is off. At the last moment the organizer of the event, the Cervantes Institute, canceled the meeting.

It is not clear why the lecture was canceled. A spokesman would only say that the decision at the last minute has been taken by the Spanish Embassy in the Netherlands.

Furthermore, he refered to the headquarters of the Cervantes Institute in Madrid. There, however, there was no comment.

Censorship

The publisher of Sánchez Piñol is furious. “This is a serious matter which smells of censorship,” said Juliette van Wersch, of Signatuur publishers.

“It is unfortunate and incomprehensible for a publisher that this author cannot always speak in the Netherlands about Spanish and Catalan history“.

Victus

Sánchez Piñol was supposed to lecture tonight about his new book Victus. That novel is about a turning point in Spanish history: the fall of Barcelona in 1714. This meant Catalans lost their independence.

Van Wersch thinks the cancellation is perhaps linked to the 300th anniversary of the fall, on 11 September. “That is always accompanied by demonstrations, which in recent years became increasingly grim.”

Furthermore, the controversial referendum on Catalan independence can play a role, but that remains speculation. “They just wanted to say that it is sensitive and that it was not a good time.”

Pity

According to the publisher Sánchez Piñol regrets that now his book gets political overtones. “He just wanted to write a historical novel. He thinks this is very unfortunate and sad.”

The Cervantes Institute was founded to bring worldwide attention to the Spanish language and culture. It is funded by the Spanish government.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet, played by actress Maxine Peake


This video from England says about itself:

21 mei 2013

Interview with Maxine Peake: Interview at MIF13 Launch. Maxine talks about her one-women performance in The Masque Of Anarchy at MIF13. Read more here.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

We aspire to give women the confidence to take on whatever role they choose

Thursday 4th September 2014

Maxine Peake talks to Peter Lazenby about playing the traditionally male role of Hamlet at Manchester’s Royal Exchange theatre.

It’s no surprise that Manchester’s Royal Exchange has extended its run of Hamlet with Maxine Peake playing the role of Shakespeare’s tragic hero.

It opens next week and the actor, a long-time friend of the Morning Star, has won widespread acclaim for tackling the role. There’s a big demand for tickets.

It’s caused her a few bumps and bruises as well. That, too, will raise no eyebrows among those who know her. When she takes on a role she does so “full on,” she says.

She did it in 2012 when she performed Percy “Red” Shelley’s 91-stanza poem The Masque Of Anarchy. It was written in response to the 1819 slaughter of protesters in Manchester’s infamous Peterloo Massacre, when sabre-wielding Hussars rose into a peaceful crowd of 60,000 listening to speakers calling for greater democracy and freedom.

To the public, of course, Peake has many faces — those of the characters she has portrayed in a wide range of TV series. They include Dinnerladies, Silk, The Village and Shameless, along with her performance as Myra Hindley in See No Evil: The Moors Murders. The list goes on.

But there’s always a freshness to her work, maybe because it is influenced by her deeply held political beliefs.

Peake is a socialist and is not afraid to speak out, particularly in voicing her disgust at the coalition government’s austerity measures and attacks on working people.

Now she is breaking more new ground as a woman actor taking on the traditionally male role of Hamlet. It’s never been her desire to play the Prince of Denmark, she says, “but it has always been my ambition to play a male part in a production. I don’t look at a role in terms of its gender, just whether I identify with the character or not.”

So why is she doing it? “I had done a production with Sarah Frankcom, our wonderful director, three years ago in which I played the title role in Strindberg’s Miss Julie and it was quite a success for the theatre,” she tells me.

“So we sat down and put our heads together to think of another project. We wanted something different that would stretch and challenge us both to the limit. Hamlet seemed perfect.”

It is “a mountain of a play, very physically demanding and challenging,” she says. “The design is very cool and minimal with a quite extraordinary use of light.”

Peake’s commitment to her audiences is total and she wants them to take a clear interpretation and accessible version of the play with them when they leave the theatre. “Hopefully it’ll be a Hamlet they can relate to. But mainly I hope that they feel they got their money’s worth and had a full theatrical experience.”

The theatre, as does virtually all the media, suffers badly from gender imbalance and for Peake playing Hamlet is part of the process to redress that. “There is a real sea-change in the gender balance in theatre,” she explains. “The Exchange I think is leading that process. The imbalance has gone on now far too long and it’s so exciting that companies are having a go at tackling it. It’s still not enough but I hope that our Hamlet will help with that.

“In years to come women will be playing these roles and no-one will be questioning it and we aspire to give women the confidence to take on whatever role they choose.

“Hopefully people will now start to tackle the race issue that I feel is still a problem in theatre and television and we’ll start to do more colour-blind casting and begin to represent honestly the wonderful racial diversity of our country.”

Peake chooses to live in the region of her birth – she was born in Bolton in Lancashire and now lives in Salford — rather than London.

In addition to acting she is an accomplished writer and her work has included a play for BBC Radio 4 about the courageous women who staged an underground occupation of a Lancashire colliery in protest at pit closures in 1993.

The Royal Exchange has made her an associate artist, with a wide-ranging role. What does she hope to achieve now?

“I will be writing as a part of my new role,” she says. “I have an idea but what it is I can’t tell you yet I’m afraid. I will be mentoring some young actors on a project next year who have been cast from the local community.

“I am really excited. I think the Royal Exchange is a thoroughly modern theatre that is responding to its surroundings and the times we live in. Up the revolution!”

Such enthusiasm is positively infectious.

Hamlet runs from September 11-October 25, details: royalexchange.co.uk.