Three decades after the miners’ strike of 1984, families in northern England are riven because relatives crossed the picket line.
Posterity remembers Emma Hamilton as the mistress of Nelson. The reality is her achievements in the society salon were in their way as brave and out of the ordinary as his naval exploits.
The cliché is that first novels are always autobiographical. Dutch writer Jeroen Blokhuis instead hides behind the biographical in his verbal portrait of one of the greatest painters his nation has produced.
From big budget to fringe to retro to quirky and ironic, musicals have swept the London stage as a feel-good formula destined to pack houses. A gothic rock musical that requires a team of cleaners to de-gore the stage after the first half and should include earplugs in the programme just could become a cult.
The Welsh National Opera version of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, established in the 70s by director Joachim Herz, on the basis of meticulous research, and now directed by Sarah Crisp, delivers pure emotion with devastating directness.
Either ultra-topical or else historic with contemporary resonance are the smart choices of subject matter for any playwright seeking to thrill an audience. The building of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world’s tallest structure, falls somewhere in between, given that it opened in 2010 and the maltreatment and suicides of its construction workers are old news.
Le Corbusier has mostly gone down in history as a visionary Swiss urban planner. For the thousands forcibly evicted from District Six in Cape Town, he has a more sinister resonance as the proponent of “the surgical method” – as mentioned in the notorious apartheid-era Group Areas Act – of sweeping away what he saw as chaos and disorder.
Even in times when rehash is more common than originality, the risk with a revival of Burt Bacharach’s late 1960s musical Promises, Promises, in turn based on Billy Wilder’s 1960 film The Apartment, is that it feels doubly derivative.
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) were both sons of artists, both mastered realism at an early age, both left their native countries and both turned up in Paris, where they met for the first time in 1931 and enjoyed a working friendship that flourished until the 1950s.
Adaptations of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol began around 30 years after his death and proliferated during the 1930s and 40s with a wealth of radio productions, notably one featuring Orson Welles and sponsored by Campbell’s Soup.
For the non-initiate, The Beastie Boys were a group of white New Yorkers who made the leap from punk rock to hip hop. The result was the number 1 hit Licensed to Ill and an opening up to the white suburbs of a previously black musical phenomenon.
In the 1930s, as he fled Nazi Germany, Einstein passed through the Belgian port of Ostend, en route to the United States, and met the painter James Ensor. He asked him what he painted, to which Ensor replied “nothing”.