Category : Theatre/Drama/Plays

Lucy Winkett–What if in Advent the wall that normally separates actors and audience is dissolved?

…something of my own stuckness was softened by the comments this week of the theatre director Alexander Zeldin. His new play is now on at the National Theatre in London and soon to be on in Birmingham. “In this political moment” he said “it is important to feel life strongly”. He is not offering policy proposals but he is contributing to the conversation by amplifying the stories of people, in the few weeks before Christmas, who are in temporary accommodation. In one scene, a son is washing his mother’s hair in the kitchen sink with washing up liquid ”“ and drying it with a filthy tea towel ”“ that on one review night made the audience gasp. The scenes like this are made much more powerful by the fact that there is no special theatre lighting in this production. As the audience, we are in the kitchen, not watching people in the kitchen. The fourth wall that normally separates actors and audience has been dissolved.

In Advent, much of the theological imagery turns on the themes of light brightening the darkness and the anticipation of God becoming a child, vulnerable to the vagaries of human politics and power. Taking our cue from the play, it might be that we need to change the lighting when illuminating the stories of people who are vulnerable and in need of support

Read it allfrom the BBC.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Theatre/Drama/Plays, Theology

(Guardian) Who are Generation Z? The latest data on today's teens

Today’s youngest generation with a label, born after 2000, are connected yet isolated, savvy but anxious, indulged yet stressed. They have grown up with social media, a constant proliferation of information on a fully mobile internet, the rise of Islamic State and other forms of terrorism. As these teenagers approach adulthood, against the political backdrop of Brexit and President Trump, how will they shape the future?

The single biggest difference between Generation Z and other generations is how connected they are, and have been since birth. On average, young people in the UK, aged between five and 16, spend three hours online every day. Connectivity permeates their lives ”“ from friendships to relationships, news, entertainment, shopping ”“ and has transformed how they interact. The most popular apps are Snapchat, Instagram and messaging app Kik; the average teenager has at least 150 followers on Instagram, and spends around half an hour a day on Snapchat.

Young people are also reported to have a much more fluid sense of sexual identity and gender. A National Citizen Service (NCS) poll of 1,000 teenagers published in October this year found that only 63% of teens aged 16 and 17 define themselves as 100% straight (compared with 78% of adults). Gender identity is also less binary, with 78% of young men identifying as 100% male, and 80% of young women identifying as 100% female, according to the same NCS poll.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Sports, Theatre/Drama/Plays

(TLS) Stig Abell–Lear turns us all to fools and madmen

Lear, perhaps more than any other tragedy, is an investigation into foolishness. And its apparent modernity is connected to what feels (incorrectly) like the recent sophistication of combining the serious with the absurd. Lear is a tragic figure because of the ridiculousness to which he descends: “the worst”, as Edgar puts it, “returns to laughter”. Shakespeare was fascinated by that point of utter degradation where misery can only be conveyed in mirth. Titus Andronicus is asked, amid his despair, “why dost thou laugh? it fits not with this hour”, and he responds, authentically: “Why, I have not another tear to shed”.

Shakespeare the dramatist knew that there was a thin line sometimes between laughter and slaughter. Both productions of Lear are played for the uneasy amusement of the audience; both Fools (Graham Turner at the Barbican; an antic clownish figure, clothed in painter’s overalls) use their physicality to illustrate the sometimes archaic jokes of the text. But one cannot help but see that ”“ in the Old Vic production at least ”“ the audience laughs because it is the only emotion that is accessible, their safest means of engagement. When Regan hurls one of Gloucester’s plucked-out eyes towards us, there are guffaws; when Gloucester bemoans his fate (“alack I have no eyes”), people snigger. This was not a moment in which tragedy was being reinforced by absurdity, but evidence of a play that had not moved its audience to sadness because it had not trusted to the words throughout.

Samuel Johnson said that Lear, and its conclusion, were “unbearable”. There are clearly scenes which are almost unplayable: Edgar accompanying his father, as he casts himself (as he believes it) off the cliffs of Dover failed in both productions, and felt unrealistic. But amid the difficulties there can be triumphs; and we see these in the figures of Sher and Jackson, and their profound and impressive performances amid the chaos. Fail again; fail better: that’s the modern King Lear for you.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Theatre/Drama/Plays

(AC) Rod Dreher–Why The ”˜Hamilton’ Dust-Up Matters

I mean, is it the case that liberals believe that artistic performances ”” theater, music, and so forth ”” must be limited only to people who share their moral and political views? If I were worried that the Trump administration was going to be hostile to minorities and gays, I would have gone out of my way to make Mike Pence feel welcome at Hamilton, and hoped and prayed that the power of art moved his heart and changed his mind. But that’s not how the audience saw it. They wanted to show Pence that he is not part of their community, and the cast took it upon itself to attempt to catechize Pence at the end of the show. (And people say Evangelical movies are bad because they can’t let the art speak for itself, they have to underline the moral and put an altar call at the end!).
Let’s think about it in religious terms. If you were a pastor or member of a church congregation, and a Notorious Sinner came to services one Sunday, would you boo him as he took his seat in a pew? Do you think that would make him more or less likely to value the congregation and accept the message from the sermon? And if you were the pastor, would you think it helpful to single the Notorious Sinner out among the congregation, and tell him, in a bless-your-heart way, that you hope he got the point of the sermon (him being a bad man and all)? You should not be surprised if the Notorious Sinner left with his heart hardened to the religion and that congregation. Any good that might have been done toward converting him to the congregation’s and the pastor’s way of belief would almost certainly not come to fruition.

Look, I’m not saying that churches should downplay or throw aside their sacred beliefs to be seeker-friendly. Sure, congregations should treat visitors with respect, but the church exists to fulfill a particular purpose, to carry out a specific mission. Its behavior must be consonant with that mission. Nevertheless, a church that repudiates hospitality to guests, and thereby chooses to be a museum of the holy, violates its purpose, and diminishes its power to change the world.

So, do liberals want theaters (and campuses) to be museums of the holy, where the already converted commune with each other? Does one have to be baptized into the mystery cult of liberalism before one is allowed in the door? Because that’s the message from last night’s display at the Richard Rodgers Theater. And if this kind of thing keeps up ”” Trump will do nothing to stop it, because it benefits him and his tribe ”” America will lose one more gathering place for all of its people.

This is by no means only the fault of the left.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theatre/Drama/Plays, Theology

(CEN) The Rev Peterson Feital –A pioneering ministry to the country’s Creatives

He is known as the ”˜Red Carpet Curate’, but the ministry of the Rev Peterson Feital is far more significant than the tabloid nickname would suggest.

Last year he was appointed the first Missioner to the Creative Industries by the Diocese of London. It was just the latest of innovative new appointments that is being made by the Church of England as it seeks out new mission opportunities.

But what does this post of Missioner really entail? Sitting in the heart of Soho, he told me about the vision he has for his strategic role. Surrounded by creatives on every side ”“ London’s arts and media specialists contribute over £70 billion a year to the UK economy ”“ he is very aware of the unusual environment in which he finds himself.

The people he has in his patch include film-makers, actors, designers, advertising executives and many other professionals. But their lifestyles are rather different to the people around them.

Read it all (may require subscription).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Art, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture, Theatre/Drama/Plays, Urban/City Life and Issues

(1st Things) Peter Leithart–Macbeth: Surprised by Evil

Audiences recoil from Macbeth, but he recoils from himself too. After Macbeth murders King Duncan, a knocking at the gate startles him, and Macbeth wonders, “How is’t with me, when every noise appals me?” He stares at his bloody hands as if they belonged to someone else’s body: “What hands are here?” He knows that the “multitudinous seas” can’t wash away the stain of Duncan’s blood, and later he is haunted by the ghost of Banquo. Macbeth “murder[s] sleep” and so deprives himself of that nightly “balm of hurt minds.” Almost no one hears “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” and thinks, “Well, Macbeth, you deserve it.” He does deserve it, but Shakespeare has shown us enough of Macbeth’s shocked soul and tortured conscience to convince us that he’s human.

Shakespeare is no liberal sentimentalist. He knows that evil is evil, and knows that Macbeth chooses evil. A. C. Bradley saw the play as evidence of Shakespeare’s feel for the “incalculability of evil””that in meddling with it human beings do they know not what.” We don’t know where evil will lead; we can only be sure that the result “will not be what you expected.” Macbeth dramatizes what Colin McGinn has described as the surprising character of evil.

Shakespeare humanizes Macbeth to hold him up as a mirror to nature, our nature. We pity, and fear, because we recognize that the evil that surprises us in Macbeth is our own.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Theatre/Drama/Plays, Theodicy, Theology

Food for Thought from Peter Shaffer

“Without worship you shrink, it’s as brutal as that … I shrank my own life. No one can do it for you. I settled for being pallid and provincial, out of my own eternal timidity.”

–from Shaffer’s Equus, said by the character of [psychiatrist] Dr. Martin Dysart, and my favorite line from the play

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Theatre/Drama/Plays

Peter Shaffer RIP at 90; Playwright Won Tonys for ”˜Equus’ and ”˜Amadeus’

Peter Shaffer, a leading British playwright whose Tony-winning dramas “Equus” and “Amadeus” explored the male psyche through the entwined anguish of dual protagonists, died on Monday in County Cork, Ireland. He was 90.

His agent, Rupert Lord, confirmed the death. “Sir Peter had traveled to Ireland to celebrate his 90th birthday with close friends and relations,” Mr. Lord said in an email. Mr. Shaffer turned 90 on May 15. Mr. Shaffer, who lived in Manhattan for more than 40 years, died in a hospice in Curraheen, a district outside Cork City.

Valued by critics and audiences on both sides of the Atlantic, Mr. Shaffer (pronounced SHAFF-er) saw his reputation amplified by well-received movie renderings of his plays. He won an Academy Award for his film adaptation of “Amadeus,” about the rivalry between Antonio Salieri, the court composer for the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the precocious composer whose magnificent gifts thrill the older man and fill him with malicious jealousy as he realizes his own consignment to mediocrity.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Parish Ministry, Theatre/Drama/Plays

(CEN) David Suchet: faith, the Bible and doubt

In 2010, David Suchet, the English actor perhaps best known for his role as detective Poirot, received a letter in the post from a lady in Northern Ireland who had MS and whose sight had gone as a result.

A friend gave her an old audio cassette of John’s Gospel which David had read for Hodder’s earlier NIV Audio Bible published sometime around 1990, and on listening to it she was so struck by the words of the gospel that as she went to bed that night she cried out to be able to see again so as to be able to read more of the gospels, more of the Bible.

According to Ian Metcalfe, publishing director at Hodder Faith, responsible for commissioning the NIV Audio Bible, the next morning when she woke she found she was able to see. She wrote to David to tell her of this experience and this story inspired David to pursue his long-held dream of reading the Bible through in its entirety.

Since it’s launch last April, the NIV Audio Bible has sold 15,500 copies…

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Books, England / UK, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Theatre/Drama/Plays, Theology, Theology: Scripture

On a Personal Note–you really *MUST* put going to the play Hamilton on your list when in NYC

We are just back from a jaunt to New York for thanksgiving and we were blessed to get tickets to the play Hamilton as part of our plans. I can only say that it EXCEEDED our expectations and frankly I didn’t think that was possible. EVERY facet of the production was outstanding.

Try to plan ahead and go if you can–you will not be sorry–KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Music, Theatre/Drama/Plays, Urban/City Life and Issues

(FT) Peterson Feital–The reverend on a showbiz mission

Known as the “red carpet curate” for his appearance at glitzy film and theatrical premieres, he wants to make the church relevant to creatives struggling with life and their spirituality.

We meet in a public relations office in Soho, the heart of London’s theatreland. (The PR executives are donating their time for free.) His dog collar is accessorised with a bright blue jacket, bowler hat and a multicoloured scarf. The flamboyance reflects his vivacious and garrulous personality. “I am groovy. I am theatrical. I am loud,” he says, redundantly. “I love people. Not everyone gets me.” Yet, he says, he is also a “contemplative soul”.

It is the larger ambition that is so arresting. For Rev Feital is on a mission to create a social enterprise ”” called the Haven ”” in central London. This is part of the Diocese of London’s strategy, Capital Vision 2020, which aspires to reach new people and engage with the creative arts to find fresh ways to convey the church’s message. The steering committee is being put in place, which Rev Feital says will include a City investor as well as representatives from the music, film and fashion industries.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Brazil, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, South America, Theatre/Drama/Plays, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NPR) A Poet Can Indeed Be Trouble In 'Set Fire To The Stars'

“How much trouble can one poet be?” That’s literature professor John Malcolm Brinnin’s rhetorical response to his buttoned-way-down colleagues’ fears about a writer’s proposed visit to New York in 1950. Today, the query can’t be heard as anything other than an inside joke. For the poet is Dylan Thomas, who was trouble for most of his 39 years.

Set Fire to the Stars takes its title from a line written by Thomas, who’s played by Celyn Jones, the movie’s co-writer. But the story is just as much about Brinnin, impersonated by Elijah Wood, the film’s most marketable performer and its co-producer. The script was fictionalized from a section of Dylan Thomas in America, a 1955 memoir by Brinnin, who facilitated several tours by the poet ”” including the 1953 one on which he died.

As portrayed here, Thomas and Brinnin shared two enthusiasms: poetry and cigarettes. While the visiting Welshman drinks heavily, womanizes compulsively and offends promiscuously, the bow-tied, slick-haired Brinnin channels all his frustration into chain smoking.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Poetry & Literature, Theatre/Drama/Plays

(AP) It’s the end of an era in Charleston SC as mayor opens his last Spoleto

Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., who helped establish the internationally known Spoleto Festival USA in South Carolina nearly four decades ago, took a final bow Friday as he opened his last festival.

It was Riley who helped persuade the late composer Gian Carlo Menotti to establish the performing arts festival in Charleston as a companion to the composer’s Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy.

Riley has opened every festival now for 39 years. Friday’s was his last because Riley, who has served as mayor longer than anyone else in Charleston’s 345-year history, retires at the end of the year. This year’s festival continues through June 7.

“There is nothing like the Spoleto Festival USA in the world, and for everyone who participates, when the festival is over, they are changed,” Riley told the hundreds gathered in front of Charleston City Hal

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Art, City Government, History, Music, Politics in General, Theatre/Drama/Plays, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Guardian) Kate Bottley on Preaching, Listening and Humor

With Victorian-style public lectures now a rarity, listening to anyone speak to a crowd, for most of us above school age, occurs only when the best man tells stories of the groom’s indiscretions. “Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking” is as much a case of “unaccustomed as I am to public listening”.

Pity the preacher then, who, as well as the regular Sunday gig, is drafted in for school assemblies, the Women’s Institute and the odd Rotary dinner.

The vicar is charged with delivering something memorable, neither too long nor too short, and not just once in a while, but week in week out. For me, the Sunday sermon looms large enough to make many a Saturday night sleepless. As I step nervously up the pulpit steps I worry that my waffling will leave them uninspired or, worse still, asleep. But while preaching is culturally alien to many, and being “preached at” unappealing to most, it is similar to something we are more used to seeing: standup comedy.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Humor / Trivia, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Theatre/Drama/Plays, Theology

Charleston's Fantastic Spoleto Festival Kicks off Today

You can read about it there. Also, please note that this is 10 time mayor Joe Riley’s last one to open: “Mayor Riley helped convince the late composer Gian Carlo Menotti to establish the festival in Charleston almost 40 years ago.”

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Art, City Government, Economy, Europe, Italy, Music, Politics in General, Theatre/Drama/Plays