Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice on stage


This video says about itself:

19 August 2009

Brandon Ewald performs a monologue as Gratiano from William Shakespeare‘s “The Merchant of Venice” Act I Scene 1 at the Globe Theatre in London.

By Gillian Piggott in England:

Timely note of tragedy

Wednesday 6th May 2015

Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice has dark undertones which directly address issues of racism today, says GILLIAN PIGGOTT

The Merchant of Venice
Globe Theatre, London SE1
3/5

WITH the election battle waged in sections of the media dominated by the issue of immigration, The Merchant of Venice is the perfect Shakespeare play to mount at the present moment.

So it proves in Jonathan Munby’s engaging production in which Shylock, the tragic outsider at the play’s core, is given due gravitas by Jonathan Pryce.

He stands not only for Jews but for all immigrants — or their second-generation offspring — struggling to rub along with host nations while maintaining religious and cultural identity. British Muslims or eastern European immigrants, so maligned by the far right, spring readily to mind.

Munby makes a compelling case for Shylock’s descent into vengefulness in a production which underlines how Antonio (Dominic Mafham), Bassanio (Daniel Lapaine) and the rest of the Christians are a thoroughly racist lot.

Contemptuous and self-satisfied, they openly despise and bully the Jew, with Mafham’s creepily charming and self-regarding colonialist merchant resorting to physically assaulting Shylock before bargaining his flesh for cash.

Pryce’s Shylock has the integrity and dignity that invites audience sympathy in the trial scene. An actor of presence, his wonderful voice breaks into vibrato at moments of passion and his simple truthfulness make his refusal to show mercy convincing.

And it also makes the unravelling of Shylock’s case and the legal bias and conspiracy ranged against him by Portia (Rachel Pickup) all the more ruthless.

With the emphasis on the Christians’ culpability, Jessica’s betrayal of her father is even less intelligible. Munby attempts to address this by having Shylock’s enforced baptism — a violating and brutal ritual — witnessed by Jessica (Phoebe Pryce), who sings a threnody bewailing the destruction she has helped heap upon her father.

It’s a powerful echoing of sectarian violence but it fails to solve the mystery of why Jessica does what she does.

Another issue with the production is that Munby does not appear to know how to make the Globe space work. He obscures the back half of the stage with a trellis and all the action takes place in front of the pillars.

And, while experienced actors such as Pryce and Mafham know how to speak the verse and use their voices effectively in the space, younger members of the company are less technically accomplished.

Intelligibility, unlike the quality of mercy, is thus sometimes strained.

Runs until June 7, box office: shakespearesglobe.com

British crime writer Ruth Rendell dies


This video says about itself:

27 August 2010

Acclaimed crime writer Ruth Rendell speaks to Virginia Haussegger about her life’s work – and it’s not the Inspector Wexford novels.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Popular crime writer Rendell dies aged 85

Monday 4th May 2015

CRIME fiction writer Ruth Rendell died at the weekend aged 85.

Ms Rendell passed away at 8am on Saturday having been seriously ill since a stroke in January, her publishers Penguin Random House said.

As well as writing more than 60 bestsellers, including the Inspector Wexford novels, Ms Rendell was a Labour Party peer who campaigned against female genital mutilation and on other social justice issues.

Labour leader Ed Miliband paid tribute to “an outstanding and hugely popular figure in British literature” who “for the past 18 years served the Labour Party in the House of Lords.

“Her books are loved by millions all over the world. On behalf of the Labour Party I offer my sincere condolences to Ruth’s family.”

Penguin Random House UK chair Gail Rebuck said “many of her award-winning thrillers and psychological murder mysteries highlighted the causes she cared so deeply about.”

Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca, murdered by fascists, new documents


This video says about itself:

Federico Garcia Lorca: 5 Poems from Poet in New York

6 November 2010

Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936) From Poet in New York

In his prefatory remarks before an audience assembled for a reading of Poet in New York in Buenos Aires in 1933, Garcia Lorca said, “I bring you a bitter and living poetry to lash your eyes open.” [1]

Born June 5, 1898 near Granada, Federico Garcia Lorca’s mother was a pianist [2] and school teacher. [3] His father was a landowner with interests in the sugar trade. [4] Garcia Lorca spent summers in the countryside of Granada. When mature, he wrote, “I love the land. All my emotions tie me to it. The first memories I have are of the earth.” [5] He was first interested in music. He started writing after the death of his piano teacher, [6] and first wrote poetry before he was twenty. [7]

He had been interested in Andalusian folk music and incorporated it into his writing. But he was concerned about becoming “typecast” as a “gypsy poet.” [12]

Garcia Lorca studied law in Madrid. He became interested in surrealist and experimental art and published with other avant garde artists known as Generation of 1927. [10] While in the Madrid, he befriended Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali, with whom he was interested in becoming intimate. Dali declined Garcia Lorca’s advances, and Lorca became dispirited and estranged from Dali. [9] He fell in love with sculptor Emilio Aladren, but became depressed once again, when the affair ended. [11]

Garcia Lorca sailed for New York. He arrived at the time of the stock market crash of 1929. In his introduction to the Grove Press edition of Poet in New York, Angel Del Rio suggests, “if we bear this in mind, it is not difficult to understand how the loneliness that he brought with him found a perfect counterpoint in the disruption and lack of direction… the city forced upon him.” [13] Del Rio says Garcia Lorca walked throughout New York, but only had relationships with other Spanish speakers. [14]

Garcia Lorca had returned to Spain by the time the Spanish Civil War broke out in July 1936. Though he had no political affiliations, [15] he was known as a homosexual and a friend of leftist intellectuals. He was taken into custody by Nationalists August 16, 1936 . It is believed he was tortured and shot the next day. He is believed to have been buried in a mass grave, but his body has never been recovered. [16]

======================
Poems Read: (Note: I read from translation by Ben Belitt from Poet in New York, Grove Press, 1955

Back from a Walk (not available on line)

Landscape of the Vomiting Multitudes

Dawn

Cow (not available on line)

Death (not available on line)

======================
Sources and Notes

[1] Alfredo de la Guardia in Garcia Lorca: persona y creación, (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sur, 1941) from Poet in New York, Federico Garcia Lorca, translated by Ben Belitt, Grove Press, New York, 1955. P. 183

[2][9] Wikipedia: Garcia Lorca

[3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [10] [11] [12] [15] [16]BooksFactory: Garcia Lorca, Federico

[13] Angel Del Rio, Introduction: Poet in New York: Twenty-Five Years After, in Poet in New York, Federico Garcia Lorca, translated by Ben Belitt, Grove Press, New York, 1955.p. Xxiii

[14] page xvi

By Alejandro López in Spain:

Documents confirm fascists murdered Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca

30 April 2015

Two police reports published for the first time by Cadena Ser radio station show that one of the greatest poets and playwrights of the twentieth century, Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936), was executed by right-wing fascist forces in the summer of 1936.

The report, written in 1965 by the Regional Brigade of Social Investigation of the Police Headquarters of Granada, directed to the civil governor of the province, is the first official admission that fascist forces murdered Lorca, whose remains have yet to be found. It describes Lorca as a “socialist,” a friend of the Socialist Party leader Fernando de los Rios, and a “freemason belonging to the Alhambra lodge” who engaged in “homosexualist [sic] and abnormal practices.”

The report details how, in late August 1936, four weeks after Franco’s fascist army rebelled against the democratically-elected Popular Front government, the “Glorious National Movement surprised [Lorca] in the capital [of the province] where he had arrived days before from Madrid (where he had his regular residence)”. After his house was registered, “feeling fear, he hid in the house of his friends, the Rosales brothers, Falangist members […] where he stayed until the moment of his arrest”.

“From that moment onwards,” continues the report, “the information that we were able to collect is very confusing and the only thing that we have been able to clarify is that the detainee was taken away from the Civil Government [where he was under arrest] by forces which depended on the latter and was taken by car to Viznar (Granada) […] together with another detainee whose personal circumstances are unknown, executed after having confessed, and buried in that location, in a very shallow grave, in a ravine.” Hours before, his brother-in-law, Manuel Fernández-Montesinos, the Socialist Party mayor of Granada, was shot.

The document was written at the request of the French Hispanist and friend of Lorca, Marcelle Auclair, who addressed the Spanish Embassy in Paris in June 1965 to request information. The embassy then passed it on to the Foreign Minister Fernando María Castiella, in favour of responding to the request. Information and Tourism Minister Manuel Fraga, future founder of the right-wing Popular Party (PP), currently Spain’s ruling party, was also informed of the facts.

Another document released by Cadena Ser is a letter from Castiella to interior chief Camilo Alonso Vega. It states that Fraga had said that it was “extremely advisable to look over the matter and find out whether we can or cannot open our archives about the García Lorca episode”. However, Auclair never herself received any response, probably because the document exposed the false claims made by Franco himself, who said that “The writer died while mixing with the rebels, these are natural accidents of war.”

Ian Gibson—an authoritative biographer of Lorca, who led an unofficial investigation into his death in the 1970s under Franco and has written multiple books on Lorca’s murder—told the daily El País: “It demonstrates that it was not a street killing, that he was taken out by the civil government to be murdered. They themselves say it.”

The police report published by Cadena Ser is a rarity in modern Spain. Historians still do not have full access to documents from the army, the church and the public administration that would help establish the number of victims of fascist murder during the Spanish Civil War, and the identity of those responsible for the killings.

The ruling class is determined to cut workers off from historical knowledge of the working class revolutionary struggles against capitalism in the 20th century. … The fascists received an amnesty and a tacit “pact of forgetting” about their crimes.

The PP, whose origins lie in Franco’s National Movement, cut the budget for the Law of Historical Memory, forcing organizations dedicated to recovering the remains of victims of the Civil War to rely on donations. Together with the Socialist Party (PSOE), the PP has refused to extradite to Argentina former Franco officials responsible for crimes against humanity. They rejected UN recommendations to ensure that families of the disappeared receive official help in locating their relatives’ remains.

At the same time, the Ministry of Defence continues to repatriate the remains of the Spanish volunteers of the Blue Division that fought in the German Army’s war of annihilation against the USSR during the Second World War.

The revelations of Lorca’s murder cut across this reactionary rewriting of history aimed at downplaying the crimes of fascism. The killing of this great artist was part of a systematic terror campaign by the fascists against the organized working class and anyone suspected of opposition.

In May 1936, General Mola, one of the leaders of the coup two months later, gave the following instructions to military bases: “The action must be extremely violent as soon as possible to reduce the enemy, which is strong and well-organised. Of course, we will arrest all the leaders of the political parties, associations or unions that are not affiliated with the [National] movement, applying exemplary punishment to those individuals in order to strangle rebel movements or strikes.”

On July 17, 1936, Franco led a military uprising from Spanish Morocco to overturn the Popular Front government, calling on all military garrisons to rise up against the Republic. Workers responded by forming rank-and-file antifascist militias. In the areas they seized, the fascists enforced a policy of systematic mass murder of political opponents.

Granada, where García Lorca was captured, was one of the first to fall. According to the historians Rafael Gil Bracero and Maribel Brenes, around 4,000 people from Granada alone where executed, including “red intellectuals” whom the fascists hated for “predicating Marxism and democracy”.

José María Bérriz, a lawyer and sympathiser of the fascists, hailed the repression in Granada in a letter to right-wing bankers on holiday in Portugal: “The army wants to extirpate from the root the bad plants that were destroying Spain. I think they will achieve this. The army courts work day and night and the sentences are very severe. The executions of trade unionists, teachers and doctors continue; they fall in the dozens. The city is happy.”

It is estimated that approximately 10,000 bodies are still buried in 57 mass graves around the province.

The author also recommends:

Spain: controversy surrounds opening of Garcia Lorca’s grave
[28 August 2004]

Planet Mercury craters named after Diego Rivera, Umm Kulthum, other artists


This video from the USA says about itself:

27 April 2015

The robotic spacecraft MESSENGER has run out of fuel. With no way to make major adjustments to its orbit around the planet Mercury, the probe will smash into the surface at more than 8,750 miles per hour (3.91 kilometers per second). The impact will add a new crater to the planet’s scarred face that engineers estimate will be as wide as 52 feet (16 meters).

From NASA in the USA:

April 29, 2015

Mercury Crater-Naming Contest Winners Announced

The MESSENGER Education and Public Outreach (EPO) Team, coordinated through the Carnegie Institution for Science, announces the winning names from its competition to name five impact craters on Mercury. The contest submissions had to be submitted by January 15, 2015, and the International Astronomical Union (IAU) — the governing body of planetary and satellite nomenclature since 1919 — made the selections from a semi-final submission of 17 artists’ names. The newly selected crater names are Carolan, Enheduanna, Karsh, Kulthum, and Rivera.

Under IAU rules, all new craters on Mercury must be named after an artist, composer, or writer who was famous for more than 50 years and has been dead for more than three years.

Turlough O’Carolan (Carolan), was an Irish composer during the late 1600s and early 1700s.

This music video features Turlough O’Carolan’s composition Planxty Irwin.

Enheduanna, an Akkadian princess who lived in the Sumerian city of Ur in ancient Mesopotamia (today’s Iraq and Kuwait), and is regarded by many scholars as possibly the earliest known author and poet.

This video is about Enheduanna.

Yousuf Karsh, was an Armenian/Canadian and one of the greatest portrait photographers of the twentieth century.

This video is called Profile of Photographer Yousuf Karsh.

Umm Kulthum, was an Egyptian singer, songwriter, and film actress of the 1920s to the 1970s.

This music video is called Umm Kulthum ( أم كلثوم ) live; “Enta Omri” (English subtitles). At the Olympia Théâtre in Paris, November 1967.

Diego Rivera, was a prominent Mexican painter and muralist from the 1920s to the 1950s.

This video is called Tribute to Diego Rivera.

NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft has been in orbit about Mercury since March 2011 and is due to finally impact the planet tomorrow. The MESSENGER spacecraft has far surpassed expectations in the duration of the mission and in the quantity and quality of data returned. The original goal of the craft was to take 2,500 images of the planet, but is has returned more than 250,000. The EPO team organized the crater-naming competition to celebrate the mission’s achievements.

The winners come from many different countries. Carolan was suggested by Fergal Donnelly (Belgium), Joseph Brusseau (USA), and Reane Morrison (USA). Enheduanna was submitted by Gagan Toor (India). Karsh was submitted by Elizabeth Freeman Rosenzweig (USA). Kulthum was suggested by Malouk Ba-Isa (Saudi Arabia), Riana Rakotoarimanan (Switzerland), Yehya Hassouna (USA), David Suttles (USA), Thorayya Said Giovanelli (USA), and Matt Giovanelli (USA). Rivera was suggested by Ricardo Martinez (Mexico), Rebecca Hare (USA), Arturo Gutierrez (Mexico), and Jose Martinez (USA).

Julie Edmonds, the EPO team leader at the Carnegie Institution for Science, remarked, “The IAU working group that chose the names was very happy with the submissions. In all we had 3,600 contest entries, a resounding success for the excitement that the MESSENGER mission to Mercury has generated.”

Final Maneuver Extends MESSENGER Operations by One More Orbit

MESSENGER mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., conducted a maneuver on April 28 designed to raise the spacecraft’s minimum altitude sufficiently to ensure impact onto Mercury during the desired orbit when full coverage by NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) scheduled.

The previous maneuver, completed on April 24, raised MESSENGER’s minimum altitude from 8.3 kilometers (5.2 miles) to 18.2 kilometers (11.3 miles) above the planet’s surface. Because of progressive changes to the orbit over time, however, the spacecraft’s minimum altitude continued to decrease.

At the time of this most recent maneuver, MESSENGER was in an orbit with a closest approach of 5.3 kilometers (3.3 miles) above the surface of Mercury. With a velocity change of 0.45 meters per second (1 mile per hour), the spacecraft’s four largest monopropellant thrusters released gaseous helium pressurant to nudge the spacecraft to an orbit with a closest approach altitude of 6.3 kilometers (3.9 miles).

This maneuver also increased the spacecraft’s speed relative to Mercury near the maximum distance from Mercury, adding about 3.5 seconds to the spacecraft’s eight-hour, 21.2-minute orbit period. The final maneuver in the MESSENGER low-altitude hover campaign, this was the mission’s fourth course-correction maneuver to use the helium gas pressurant as a propellant to change the spacecraft’s orbit. This view shows MESSENGER’s orientation at the start of the maneuver.

MESSENGER was 155.2 million kilometers (96.5 million miles) from Earth when the 3.02-minute maneuver began at about 5:20 p.m. EDT. Mission controllers at APL verified the start of the maneuver 8.6 minutes later, after the first signals indicating spacecraft thruster activity reached NASA’s DSN tracking station in Goldstone, California.

MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) is a NASA-sponsored scientific investigation of the planet Mercury and the first space mission designed to orbit the planet closest to the Sun. The MESSENGER spacecraft was launched on August 3, 2004, and entered orbit about Mercury on March 18, 2011, to begin a yearlong study of its target planet. MESSENGER’s first extended mission began on March 18, 2012, and ended one year later. MESSENGER is now in a second extended mission, which is scheduled to operate through April 2015.