Understanding Kushner

“The charge that playwright Tony Kushner’s theater is more pedagoguish than dramatic stems partly from the inability of his accusers to differentiate between a politically charged play and a screed, or between a character and its author. Kushner’s characters may spout diatribes, but his plays, many coming from an Elizabethan tradition, are about the collision of those arguments into a kind of forum. Kushner’s works are composed of conflicts and discussions merging into a skeptical, ironical and often paradoxical vision; a play with a vision can shed some light, whereas a play with an opinion can be merely annoying. It’s helpful to distinguish the two.”

Diplomacy, Stallone Style

How to improve Egypt’s image in America? How about Sylvester Stallone in an action series? No kidding: “It’s going to be a suspense series, there will be crime shows, and recovery of lost artifacts, kidnaps and retrieval, action and adventures where good triumphs over evil,” Stallone said, suggesting it would bridge the gap between Americans and Arabs that has widened since 9/11. “I think people are scared of what they don’t know, so the more you expose the different cultures to one another, you are going to see that they love their families, they go to work, they do the same things as us and right away you start to listen, and I think that’s very important.”

London Movies Booming

The London film industry has had a couple of down years. But 2003 looks to be a record year. “Now experts reveal income from the industry this year will top $1 billion (£623 million), smashing the 2000 record. Britain’s studios are running at full capacity after two difficult years, with a string of high-profile Hollywood and domestic projects in production.”

Under The Umbrella

London’s experimental Dance Umbrella is 25 years old. “A couple of critics concluded that if they ignored this anti-dance malarkey, it would go away. But it stayed. Val Bourne, who has directed Dance Umbrella throughout its 25 years, is a woman of infinite tenacity and vision. Hopeful experiments and extreme ideas have always been precious to her. Of course, there have been seasons where the sight of dancers ardently meditating on their inner organs have tested the public’s patience…”

Reviewing The BBC’s Right To Life

The BBC’s charter is up for renewal in 2006, and the British government is in a mood to examine the value of the public broadcaster. “We need to ask ourselves what we want and expect the BBC to deliver; what range and scale of services it should provide; how it should be positioned in relation to the market; how it should be funded and regulated; and whether it delivers good value for money.”

Finding A New Direction For The BBC

Government review of the BBC signals that major change is on the way. “Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, yesterday signalled the start of a ‘root and branch’ review of the BBC’s purpose and funding with a guarantee that its independence from government would be preserved. But she gave a stern warning that the BBC cannot expect to continue in its present form when its royal charter is renewed in 2006.”

The Death Of Reading In Egypt?

“These people, this cultured generation, there aren’t any of them left. I remember how, the first day of summer vacation, women would converge at these stalls with their sons and daughters to stock up on summer readings. Now all kids want are their computer games and Game Boys. Today people have no use for a book unless it’s for their Masters or Doctorate degree. No one reads for recreation. Just look around Ezbekeya at these empty stalls, and then go look at any fuul stand and see how many people are there in comparison.”

Ashcroft: Patriot Act Library Provision Hasn’t Been Used

In response to enormous criticism, US Attorney General John Ashcroft says that the controversial Patriot Act provision giving federal authorities the ability to check on library and book store records has never been used. “Critics have said the FBI’s authority to obtain the records threatens the privacy and First Amendment rights of library and bookstore patrons, as well as other businesses. Law enforcement officials say the power is rarely used, properly supervised by judges and essential to combat terror.”