October 8th, 2011

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The Tempest, starring Ralph Fiennes, Theatre Royal Haymarket

I wanted to celebrate the current production of The Tempest, playing at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. I went back for a repeat viewing tonight (Friday) and another member of the com is going tomorrow (Saturday).

This is a Mychael Barratt limited edition print, this time focusing on Ariel and Prospero.

Picture credit: http://www.ponyhide.com/mychaelbarratt/shakespeare.html

And here are Prospero (Ralph Fiennes) and Ariel (Tom Byam Shaw) from the current production of The Tempest playing at the Theatre Royal Haymarket:

Photo credit: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2034375/Ralph-Fiennes-proves-box-office-draw-The-Tempest-takes-1m-advance-ticket-sales.html

Extract from Act One, Scene Two:

Ariel, thy charge
Exactly is perform'd: but there's more work.
What is the time o' the day?

Past the mid season.

At least two glasses. The time 'twixt six and now
Must by us both be spent most preciously.

Is there more toil? Since thou dost give me pains,
Let me remember thee what thou hast promised,
Which is not yet perform'd me.

How now? moody?
What is't thou canst demand?

My liberty.

Before the time be out? no more!

I prithee,
Remember I have done thee worthy service;
Told thee no lies, made thee no mistakings, served
Without or grudge or grumblings: thou didst promise
To bate me a full year.

Finally, my reaction to the current production is here:
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In tribute to ... Ralph Fiennes

Photo credit: http://www.urban-vacation.com/167/ralph-fiennes-in-shakespeares-the-tempest-showing-at-the-haymarket-theatre-royal-london/

Ralph Fiennes was the first actor I followed as a serious fan.

I genuinely feel that of all the actors I have seen doing Shakespeare live in the theatre or on film, Ralph Fiennes is the one who has the deepest understanding of the beauty and poetry of the verse and the iambic pentameter; and can speak the verse with the most poetry whilst at the same time completely conveying the meaning of the verse to a modern audience. The beauty of his verse speaking is completely on another level.

I was thinking about my favourite Ralph pieces in the theatre, on film and on the television and, ironically, none of them are Shakespeare.

Theatre - Ivanov at the Almeida. I queued for 6 hours on a freezing cold day, having set out at 5am from my home to get all the way across London, to get a day seat in 1997. Ralph introduced me to Chekhov.

Film - Spider. This portrays the return of an schizophrenic adult man, back into the outside "real" world, after he is released from a mental institution where he has been detained since childhood. I love the film and, like Stuart, it will always have a special place in my heart. I will run a feature on Spider in due course.

Television - Lawrence After Arabia. T E Lawrence is my all time hero - he was so complex, such an enigma, but so charismatic and inspirational. Ralph nailed the portrayal. I will be running a feature on T E Lawrence soon!
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Mixed Britannia, Thursdays 9pm, BBC2

I just watched this - I had prioritised it, in amongst my numerous and diverse commitments.

The first programme was OUTSTANDING. This represents for me the best of the BBC - what the BBC should be doing and what I fervently hope that it will continue to do. It is very high quality social history, which educates and informs. It is because of programmes such as this that I chose to grow up with the BBC!

Cut and pasted from the BBC website:

Mixed Britannia is a new three-part series for BBC2. George Alagiah explores the often untold stories of Britain's mixed-race communities. In this three-part series George Alagiah explores the remarkable and untold story of Britain's mixed-race community and examines through the decades how mixed race has become one of the country's fastest growing ethnic groups.

The series continues next Thursday where it will look at the years 1940-1965, where the Second World War created a miniature baby boom of “brown babies” born to local British women and African American GIs, and many British-Chinese children in Liverpool lost their Chinese seamen fathers. With the post-war mass immigration, mixed couples, once rare and exotic, were becoming more common and society finally witnessed the first interracial kiss on British television.

Back to me!:

I will declare a personal interest here. My ex-husband was English (white). The failure of my marriage was down to other things and had nothing to do with the fact that we were a mixed race couple. My personal opinion was, and remains, that both sets of families gained a lot from the mixing of the cultures and from getting to know people from a different background and culture to themselves.

I am recommending that everyone, especially those with an interest in history, British history, or social history, watch this superb series.
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How The World Got Mixed Up, BBC2, Tonight

Cut and pasted from the BBC website:

This one-off documentary explores the historical and contemporary social, sexual and political attitudes to race mixing.

Throughout modern history, interracial sex has been one of society's great taboos, and across many parts of the world, mixed race relationships have been subjected to a range of deterrents. Mixed couples have endured shame, stigma and persecution and many have risked the threat of ostracism from their friends and families.

In several parts of the world governments introduced legislation to prohibit race mixing. Yet despite the social and legal constraints, interracial relationships have been an ever-present feature of societies throughout modern times.

Through the stories of interracial relationships which created scandals in their own time, the film examines the complex history of interracial relationships and chronicles the shifts in attitudes that for centuries have created controversy and anxiety all around the world.

Follow the link for more details:

Another one for me to SkyPlus!
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Photo credit: http://www.benedictcumberbatch.co.uk/stuart-a-life-backwards/

The more observant amongst you will have noticed that I have just changed my header photo from Sherlock to Stuart.


- Of all of Benedict's work, Stuart is the one that means, and will always mean, the most to me. It speaks to my heart
- Stuart as a piece more accurately reflects what this com is about which is that we also cover issues of social justice, big society and politics (with a small p)
- Benedict's co-star in Stuart (and actually I would argue the star of the piece) is Tom Hardy. It seems from the number of hits to the feature that I ran on Tom yesterday that we all have a soft spot for Mr Hardy (who wouldn't?)
- It differentiates this com from the numerous other Sherlock coms that are now out there

I will still run as many features on Sherlock, and Sherlock Holmes, and Canon, and Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, as I have always done. They all have a special place in my heart and nothing is ever going to change that. I just feel that Stuart as a piece more accurately reflects the ethos of this com.

However, I fully appreciate that it is Sherlock that brought us together, so if com members feel strongly about it I will, of course, change it back!

If you want it changed back, speak now!