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([personal profile] marjorie73 May. 22nd, 2017 07:46 pm)
 I was a little disappointed with the line up for the Bath Literary Festival this year, as I couldn't find very many events I wanted, and was able, to attend. However, one I did like the look of was an interview with Dominic Dromgoole, former Artistic Director of the Globe Theatre, talking about his book about the 'Hamlet: Globe to Globe' tour.


For those who don't know, the tour marked the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death by trying to take a production of 'Hamlet' to every country in the world.


Dominic Dromgoole, 20.05.17

 

It was very interesting. Dominic started by explaining that he is a local boy; he was brought up in Wedmore, so coming to Bath feels like coming home. He also pointed out that the parents of one of the Hamlet cast, another local boy, were in the audience!


He explained that the idea of the tour came about in a 'louche bar' where he and other members of the Globe team were drinking cocktails at the end of an away day (he commented that the Globe doesn't get any government support, and very little sponsorship, so the money comes from the box office and they felt, therefore, able to spend it on such things!). They were unsure, at first, whether it would even be possible, but (he claims) decided to go ahead anyway! It followed on from the season they had had at the Globe, where they performed all of Shakespeare's plays, with companies from around the world performing in a wide variety of languages, so they were able, to some extent, to build on the relationships built with various international theatres and companies.


He explained that they then had to decide which play to take on tour, and decided on Hamlet on the basis that it has iconic appeal, and unlike other plays (such as Romeo and Juliet) it is elusive; there is always more or the actors to discover, so they are less likely to get bored and stale over a long run.


He was asked about how well the play was understood, in non-English speaking countries, particularly as there were no sur-titles, and in some of the countries visited the play would not be (well) known.  He explained that, as at the Globe, they performed in natural light or with the audience, as well as the players, lit, which allows cast and audience to make eye contact with one another, and that key parts of the play 'read' clearly even of you don't understand the words -the opening scene, on the battlements, is a readily understandable scenario,  Claudius can be recognised as an authority figure, ghosts are well known in most cultures, and so on. 


Over all it was an interesting conversation, I was glad to have gone. And it left me really wanting to see a version of Hamlet at the Globe! 


After the event, I had a chance to buy a book (although I bought an older one rather than Globe to Globe, to start with!) and say hello. 

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([personal profile] marjorie73 May. 21st, 2017 09:27 am)
 Watching David Tennant on stage is always a pleasure, and I really enjoyed '3 Days in the Country' which was written by Patrick Marber, so naturally, when I saw that Tennant  was going to be performing in Marber's play, 'Don Juan in SoHo'  I booked tickets!



 

The play is a re-working of Molière's 1665 play, set in contemporary SoHo, with David Tenant as Don Juan, Adrian Scarborough as his long-suffering servant, Stan.

 

I'm not familiar with the original play, so am unsure how much of the plot has been retained, but whatever liberties may have been taken, they seem to work! 

 

We meet the Don in a luxury hotel, where he is discovered by his brother in law, initially concerned for his safety, as he has not been seen for two days, although of course we quickly learn that it is simply that the amoral Don has abandoned his wife, to spend his nights with a supermodel in the penthouse suite... 


David Tennant as Don Juan. Production photo by Helen Maybanks

 

When we first meet him, he slumps into an armchair, apparently too exhausted even to reach the glass Stan has provided for him, and then proceeds to smoke a series of cigarettes, flirting outrageously with the hotel staff members who come to insist he puts it out..


Don Juan is sexy, charming, unscrupulous and almost entirely immoral. He shamelessly lies to his father (Gawn Gainger) to avoid being disinherited, but is cruelly, and ruthlessly, honest in admitting to his wronged wife that he married her as the only way of sleeping with her, and that he was cheating in her even on their wedding day.


As Stan says 'Please don't be charmed, he's not a lovable rogue' and he is absolutely right. He's not a lovable rogue. But he is very entertaining! 


Stan and Don Juan: Production photo by Helen Maybanks

And there are lots of little touches - the script includes contemporary references ("I'm not a rapist, I don't grab pussy") there are telling little vignettes - the woman in the hospital, filming Don Juan as he attempts to seduce a grieving bride while simultaneously enjoying fellatio from another woman, springs to mind - Don Juan is not the only member of this ensemble with dubious morals! 

 

The play is at Wyndham's Theatre until 10th June, and it definitely worth seeing, if you can!

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([personal profile] marjorie73 May. 20th, 2017 10:51 am)
 I missed Nell Gwynn when it was originally on at the Globe Theatre, but heard many good things about it, so when I saw that it was coming to Bath I immediately booked a ticket. 


And then a little bit later I realised it was for the same night I would be getting back from Venice, but as that was the last night it was in Bath, there was no way of changing the ticket, so I decided to hope that the train would be on time and the traffic light, and that I'd get back in time.


It was, and I did. All the travel gods smiled on me, I was out of Gatwick within half an hour of the plane landing, and got to Bath with time to grab a snack before going into the theatre!

 

The play, written by Jessica Swale and starring Laura Pitt-Pulford as Nell and Ben Righton as Charles II, begins in 1660 as a young Nell Gwynn, selling oranges at Drury Lane theatre, draws the attention of actor Charles Hart (Sam Marks), and starts on her path towards being one of the first professional actresses in Britain, and, a little later, mistress of Charles II.


It was lot of fun. I particularly enjoyed the performance of Esh Alladi, as Edward Kynaston,an actor famed for his portrayal of female roles, outraged by the idea of women on stage!



 

Nell gets most of the best lines - there is a lovely sequence where she gives her unvarnished opinion of women characters as written by male playwrights, with particular reference to  Shakespeare's 'Juliet. (Spoiler Alert: She is not convinced by Juliet and her suicide) 


There was live music.  There was singing and dancing. There were ridiculous hats. there were political jokes.


It was all great fun.


Sadly the run is now over, so you can't see it, but if they revive it, go see it.

 As may have become clear, I do enjoy a good art gallery, and as well as the modern art galleries Venice also has the Galleria Accademia, where they keep all the renaissance art (and later - it covers the 14th to 18th Centuries) .


One of the first rooms you go into is in what used to be the refectory of the Scuola Grande della Carità, which is a 14th C building, and has an amazing wooden ceiling covered in cherubim. Apparently, no two faces are the same.. 

Angel Ceiling, Galleria Dell'Accademia


 

The gallery's collection is arranged broadly chronological, so you start with 14th and 15th Century religious art - lots of lovely Renaissance Angels and the occasional dragon.



Quite a lot of the rooms were closed when I visited, so I didn't get to see a lot of the later stuff, but I did very much enjoy the room with a series of paintings of 'The Miracles of the True Cross', by Carpaccio, Gentile Bellini,  and Mansueti.


'Miracolo della Croce caduta nel canale di San Lorenzo'- Gentile Bellini, 1500


They show meticulous pictures of Venice in the late 1400's. (Theoretically involving miracles attributable to a relic of the true cross, but really more about the people and the scenery!)

 

 

Detail from Carpaccio's 'Miracle of the Cross at the Ponte di Rialto' (1496)


There are gondolas and gondoliers and  posh Venetians, and pictures of the Rialto and on St Mark's

 

 'Processione in piazza San Marco' Gentile Bellin, 1496

 It's fascinating to see so many little details of Venice in 1500! 


After leaving the gallery, I found another relic of Renaissance Venice, the Scala Contarini del Bovolo, a beautiful, delicate, external spiral staircase.

 

 

 

It was built in around 1400, and is just lovely. 

 

You can climb the tower, and there are views out across Venice from the top.


 

The un-named (but sneaky) architect of the tower made the arches smaller on each level as the tower goes up, to make it look taller than it really is!


This was my last full day, so I then spent some time just wandering around and enjoying the sights.


 

..and the traghetto, and the canals.

 

 

I admired the beautifully decorated gondolas 'parked' outside the guesthouse I was staying at, and generally drank in the atmosphere.

 

 

It  was all rather nice.


 

The following morning I had a little time to wander around again before catching the boat back to the airport to fly home.

 

 

It was a lovely sunny morning, which made it harder to leave, but at least the trip across the lagoon was pleasant!

 

 
 A couple of weeks before I went to Venice, I saw a review for Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable' , the new exhibition of works by Damien Hirst.


 

 


It seemed intriguing, so having time, I went to see it.


The exhibition claims to be the items discovered that a wreck was discovered, in 2008, of a 2nd Century ship, full of treasures collected by a wealthy former slave. It is, of course, entirely untrue. But they have put a lot of effort into making it sound convincing.


I started in the Palazzo Grassi (the exhibition is in two locations, Palazzo Grassi and Dorgana) 


The Palazzo Grassi is a large, canalside mansion, with 3 stories surrounding a central atrium. 

 

Right now, the atrium is rather full of a 60' tall bronze demon (or, if you ignore the talons, a 60' tall naked headless man)



I'm not sure that it would be a decorating choice I'd make, if I ever happen to have a palace on the Grand Canal, but it's quite dramatic. And a little odd. 


As are most of the other exhibits.


 

I found a bust of Mazikeen. (or, 'The Skull beneath the Skin', as Mr Hirst calls her)

 

 

Then there was Andromeda and the monster, which gave more than a nod to Hirst's famous pickled sharks..


I particularly enjoyed the juxtaposition of Andromeda and the Sharks and Things with Tentacles with the lovely gilded and decorated ceiling.



There are some pieces which a cynical person might think are the tiniest bit inconsistent with an 1,800 year old shipwreck...



As you continue round the exhibition, it becomes clear that Hirst is riffing upon, a whole range of targets - the solemnity of museums and their careful speculation about artifacts, his own, and other artists' works, (I didn't realise it at the time, but even the giant naked demon is a take on William Blake's miniature painting, 'The Ghost of a Flea')


 

There are also takes on modern scientific research (dressed up as a claim that the mouse and the ear were parts of a giant statue of Zeus)

 

Some of the pieces are beautiful in their own right, such as this 'Sun Disk'


 

Others look more like props from a Indiana Jones film.


And some are just entertaining, like the Unicorn skulls...

 

 

I enjoyed the exhibition. I am not sure whether it is good art or not, but it is good fun, although I felt it perhaps takes itself a little too seriously. In commenting on how seriously art and museums take themselves, it seems to have fallen into the same trap. I got the impression that Hirst was having fun creating the exhibition, and I cannot help but think that the exhibition would have benefited from loosening up a little. I think adding a cocktail bar and some music would improve things.



(I think also that the exhibition is a little too big and repetitious - there are only so may fake artifacts you can see before they start looking the same..)


But over all, it is fun, and I'm glad I went.

.

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