Brook: Stripping Back To Simplicity

Director Peter Brook has stripped away a lot for his new production. But it took him a long time to do it. “I tell young people: ‘At the age of 80, I have discarded many, many things to find that my taste is for simplicity. Don’t take that as a formula when you’re at an age when you should be plunging into every sort of experience, as I was doing.’ “

A Cannes Full Of Favorites

“There are no obvious hot-button films in this year’s lineup, which stacks up as a classic Cannes selection packed with critical favorites and sprinkled with both potential comeback kids like Atom Egoyan, and hot directors, including, notably, Mexico’s Carlos Reygadas and Italy’s Marco Tullio Giordana.

A New Time Demands A New Kind Of Plays

Last week critic Michael Billington compained that the new generation of 90-minute plays was creatively challenged. Ian Rickson begs to disagree: “New cultural and political eras demand new forms. There is a scepticism towards big ideas among the young – but that does not mean they are not engaged with or disturbed by contemporary society. We live in a time when there is a disappointment with unifying ideology and a greater consciousness of contradiction. The old forms in which the writer diagnoses and hypothesises no longer speak to today’s playwrights. In dramatising a more complex, atomised culture, playwrights may seek vivid, suggestive fragments as a better form.”

Israeli Report: Holocaust Cost To Jewish People Was $230 Billion

“An unprecedented report published yesterday by the Israeli government estimates the material damage caused to the Jewish people during the Holocaust at $230 billion to $320 billion. This estimate does not include reparations for the suffering of survivors, or for the murder of 6 million Jews. The report’s authors call on the government to remove obstacles to the process of restoring Jewish property, not only in Europe but in the U.S. and Israel as well.”

World Trade Center Dream Dies

Any hope for a good project to rise on the site of the World Trade Center is now dead, writes Ada Louise Huxtable. “The death of the dream has come slowly, in bits and pieces, not as a sudden cataclysmic event. It has not been a casualty of the more obvious debate over whether the replacement of the lost 10 million square feet of commercial space demanded by the developer is an economic necessity or the defilement of the land where so many died. This has been a subtler, more insidious sabotage, through the progressive downgrading and evisceration of the cultural components of Daniel Libeskind’s competition-winning design.”

Moscow Treasure Reopens After Fire

A major architectural treasure has reopened a year after a damaging fire. “Built in just six months in 1817 under the orders of Czar Alexander I for the fifth anniversary of Russia’s victory over Napoleon, Manege was considered architecturally unique from the start. Its recognizable neo-classical yellow facades and majestic white pillars were designed by the Russian architect Ossip Bovet, while its 150-foot-wide interior and triangular wooden roof were created by the French engineer Augustin BĂ©tancourt. This hall could hold a regiment of 2,000 in addition to visitors and audiences. It was said to be the largest uncolumned interior space in the world.”

A Da Vinci Code Parody (On Publishing)

“The Da Vinci Code is obviously not a normal novel. It is enormously long and very badly written (“Everyone in the reception area gaped in wonderment at the half-naked albino offering forth a bleeding clergyman”). It is simultaneously bombastic and bafflingly banal, full of uncontrolled, wrong-headed prose, tin-eared dialogue and crazy errors of fact. The characters are drips. And yet I stayed up half the night reading it. So what is the secret?”

Muti “Considering Offer” From Chicago Sym

Deposed La Scala music director Riccardo Muti has said in an interview that he is “considering an offer” from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which is currently searching for a new music director to replace Daniel Barenboim. Whether the offer is for Muti to be the next podium star in Chicago is not known, and since CSO management has made it clear that it wants Barenboim’s successor to spend significant time in the city engaging the community and raising money, tasks which Muti did not relish during his time as MD in Philadelphia, the Italian maestro might not seem to be a natural choice for Chicago. Muti refused to elaborate on exactly what the CSO offer might entail.

Pittsburgh’s Slimmed-Down Ring

Hot on the heels of the Chicago Lyric Opera’s Ring cycle, the Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh has announced plans to present a “streamlined” version of the massive Wagner cycle over the next two summers. The cut-down Ring, which was conceived by Jonathan Dove for the UK’s City of Birmingham Opera, features a chamber orchestra in the pit and minimal costumes and sets. Traditional Ring cycles cost millions to stage, and are considered out of the realm of possibility for all but the largest companies, but the Dove version is expected to cost no more than $250,000.

Fox Wants Viewers To Make A Commitment

Ever since the Fox sitcom Arrested Development hit the air two years ago, critics have been begging viewers to tune in, lest the innovative program go the way of other “smart” comedies, which is to say, into the network dustbin. The show has never become a hit, though, and a third season is very much in doubt. But Fox, which has traditionally been quick to cancel low-rated programs, is taking an unusual approach to the future of Arrested, asking fans of the show to sign an online “loyalty oath” promising to watch and support the show if it is brought back.