Bill T. Jones has a hot project on Broadway this season, but he’s already looking beyond it. “Storytelling is supreme. I’ve been reminded of that, working in theater. There’s an audience now that’s younger. It has fewer biases. Maybe they can go in different directions — if we have the work there for them to see.”
“An ancient Greek theater accidentally discovered by construction workers in Athens is one of the classical world’s most famous lost stages. Builders stumbled last week across the 2,500-year-old amphitheatre of Acharnes, known from ancient writings to be an important arena for tragedies, comedies and musical contests.”
Michael Billington is alarmed at the populist streak now running through UK theatre. “What disturbs me is a perverse and ever increasing populism that sabotages the specialist expertise on which any art form is built. Dr Johnson famously said that ‘the drama’s laws the drama’s patrons give’. But while the public is the final arbiter, that doesn’t mean that it should be a controlling force.”
In readiness for an expected flurry of visitors to York for the centenary celebrations of Auden’s birth, local cab drivers have been trained to recite his poems to their unsuspecting passengers.
“Next year, the eyes of the world will be on the city as European Capital of Culture. The show might be seen as a pre-emptive shot, to prove that Liverpool has always been on the cultural cutting edge. But it also raises the question of how artistic movements emerge, and whether such golden ages can be artificially manufactured.”
Researchers at King’s College, London, have discovered that email abuse reduces our cognitive powers more even than drugs, so now a method has been devised to cure us. Naturally, the American creators of the course talk in the argot of the alcoholics 12-step programme (‘involve others in conquering your addiction’). And much of the advice is fatuous: ‘Reduce the amount of email you receive’.”
“An entire new alphabet has wormed its way out of the corners of Whitehall bureaucracy to try to stop the arts world from doing what it really needs to do – provide wonderful art. What this new alphabet shows, this new ABC of the arts, is how far the arts world, the way we look at it, the way we run it, has been transformed yet again within five short years. It has not been transformed in its own terms; rather in the concepts by which it is judged, managed and evaluated. The creative fertility of bureaucrats has an unstoppable energy of its own.”
Scotland’s National War Museum in Edinburgh is losing visitors. “The free museum, based inside the Castle, has seen visitors drop by a quarter in the past year. While the number of people paying to visit the Castle has increased slightly, museum staff say poor signage and competition from rival war museums has driven away their visitors.”
“The number of college students spending at least some time learning in other countries continues to grow, doubling over the last decade, and some institutions have taken aggressive steps to increase the proportion of their students (to 100 percent, in at least one case) who study in other countries.” But what is the quality of these overseas experiences?
John Tusa’s stepping down after a successful tenure. “The two main contenders in a low-key shortlist were Graham Sheffield, the Centre’s successful artistic director, and Nicholas Kenyon, who is bowing out after a decade as director of the BBC Proms. Word is that Kenyon, 56 this week, put up the better show and is now waiting to see white smoke, perhaps in a week or two.”