sun 16/12/2018

First Person

James Graham: 'the country of Shakespeare no longer recognises arts as a core subject'

Thank you. It’s an honour to have been asked to speak here today. Although looking at the h100 List this year, I’ve no idea why I’m presumptuously standing here; given the talent, creativity and achievements far surpassing my own within this room....

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Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto: 'We figured Molière would have toyed with it too'

Back in June 2017, in the days when English summertime was a lazy idyll rather than an apocalyptic inferno, RSC artistic director Greg Doran met us at his office in Stratford-upon-Avon and asked whether we wanted to write a new version of ...

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'I saw that death is beautiful, unspeakable and strange': on filming 'Island'

Most of us have very little knowledge of the process of life ending, physically and emotionally, until it comes suddenly into our own experience. Dying remains taboo. We don’t talk about dying, we don’t teach it in schools, and yet this event is as...

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F Off: National Youth Theatre puts social media on trial

F Off came about off the back of a meeting I had with Paul Roseby, the artistic director of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain. I’d come in to talk to him about my writing and through complete coincidence, someone had just auditioned for...

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Charlotte Jones: ‘Plays come from your scar tissue’

I think it’s always a dangerous sport to try and consciously unravel where your ideas come from. Lest you break the spell and inadvertently silence yourself…There’s always the superficial reasons, of course: the geography and the history of a play....

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Michael Chance on continuing opera in Hampshire: 'good people like to work with good people'

Out of the blue comes a phone call. A freelance career is based on those to a certain extent. Certainly mine has been. But this one was a bit different. “Would you come and talk to us about the way forward?”. I soon learnt that what this actually...

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Helaine Blumenfeld: Britain’s most successful sculptor you’ve never heard of

Sexy is an overused word in the arts but it’s an adjective you can’t help applying to some of Helaine Blumenfeld’s voluptuous marble sculptures as you run your fingers over their surfaces. These abstract bodily forms, often in the purest icing-white...

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'There's a poetry in painting that gives endless possibilities'

It was always my dream to be an artist but I never expected to be a curator. Graduates considering vocations in critical and curatorial practice went to the Royal College of Art or studied art history at university. Not me: I trained at Chelsea...

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Antony Sher: Year of the Mad King - extract

In 1982 Antony Sher played the Fool to Michael Gambon’s King in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of King Lear. Shortly after, he came back to Stratford to play Richard III, for which he won the Olivierand Evening Standard Awards for Best...

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'In order to write my book I had to kill Jane Austen'

My heroine would not have appeared in a Jane Austen novel. Brilliant, arch and incisive though Austen was – as deft in dissecting the economics of romance as in laying bare the lies told by the human heart – for better or worse, she still sent all...

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Rhidian Brook on The Killing of Butterfly Joe

When I was 23 I had a job selling butterflies in glass cases in America. I worked for a guy who, as well as being a butterfly salesman, had ambitions to be America’s first Pope (an ambition he ditched on account of him wanting to marry). I drove all...

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'The greatest play ever written': translating The Cherry Orchard

“The Cherry Orchard is the greatest play ever written,” I declared, confidently, aged 16, to my mother, having just read The Cherry Orchard for the first time. She responded to my claim with a non-committal snort – remembering, perhaps, the...

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