tue 21/05/2019

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theartsdesk Q&A: Artist/Dramatist John Byrne

graeme Thomson

"I’m very hard to categorise,” says John Byrne (b 1940), tugging at his magnificent moustache. A restless, defiant, shape-shifting polymath who was an exponent of multimedia long before computers ruled the world, Byrne's singular career is perhaps doomed to gentle underappreciation simply because he can do so much so well. “If you’re hard to categorise they don’t like that." He peers into his coffee as though looking for something. "Whoever 'they' are.”

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theartsdesk Q&A: Author Michael Dibdin

Jasper Rees

“There is a sense I very much get about this place. Italians know what life is for and they know it won’t last very long. And so they take advantage. I like that. Particularly at my age.” The last of several times I interviewed the British crime writer Michael Dibdin (1947-2007) was four years before his death. It was a freezing February morning in Bologna, where he was researching the 10th and (it turned out) penultimate book in the Aurelio Zen series. The interview was at 9am.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Actress Eileen Atkins

Jasper Rees

Eileen Atkins (b 1934) acquired long-overdue fame with her performance in the BBC adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford. Her desiccated spinster was the indisputed star turn until death did us part. It’s taken a while. Aside from half a century’s commitment to the classics and new plays, unlike the other more celebrated DBEs she has had a parallel career as a writer. There have been two plays about Virginia Woolf, as well as a screenplay of Mrs Dalloway.

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Q&A Special: Actor Derek Jacobi

Jasper Rees

Derek Jacobi (b 1938) grew up in Leytonstone. His father was a tobacconist, his mother worked in a department store. Although he entered the profession in the great age of social mobility in the early 1960s, no one could have predicted that he would go on to play so many English kings - Edward II, a couple of Henry VIIIs and Shakespeare’s two Richards - as well as a Spanish one in Don Carlos. This month he prepares to play another king of Albion: Lear, against which all classical...

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Debate: Should Theatre Be On Television?

theartsdesk Get thee to an edit suite: David Tennant's RSC Hamlet on screen with Mariah Gale as Ophelia

The relationship between stage and screen has always been fraught with antagonism and suspicion. One working in two dimensions, the other in three, they don't speak the same visual language. But recent events have helped to eat away at the status quo. On the one hand, theatre has grown increasingly intrigued by the design properties of film. Flat screens have popped up all over the place, notably in Katie Mitchell’s National shows and at the more ambitious work of the ENO. Meanwhile,...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Comedian Ben Elton

Jasper Rees

Ten years ago Ben Elton (b 1959) would have needed no introduction. When still very young he became the mouth of a bolshy new generation of alternative comedians, as they were then known. Saturday Live - later Friday Night Live - was consciously modelled on the American template, and seemed very cutting edge. In fact all its alumni soon migrated to the mainstream: Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, freshly down from Cambridge, played Jeeves and Wooster.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Actor Michael Sheen

Jasper Rees

Either it’s a bizarre accident. Or there’s something in the water. Port Talbot, the unlovely steel town in Wales where smoke stacks belch fumes into the cloudy coastal sky, has been sending its sons to work in Hollywood for decades now. Richard Burton was the first to put his glowering blue eyes and golden larynx at the service of Tinseltown. Anthony Hopkins, for all his American passport, has never shed the native tinge from his accent. And in recent years there has been Michael Sheen (b....

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theartsdesk Q&A: Actor Simon Russell Beale

Jasper Rees

The career of Simon Russell Beale (b. 1961) needs little introduction.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Opera Singer Rolando Villazón

Jasper Rees

In the next few weeks the wider public will be introduced to the charms of Rolando Villazón (b. 1972). Anointed as a star of opera houses around the world in the last decade, the Mexican tenor is about to participate in ITV1's Popstar to Opera Star. As singing celebs from the world of pop music take on the big arias, Villazón has been cast as mentor, panellist and figleaf. It is all a very long way from Covent Garden.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Author-actor Michael Palin

Sheila Johnston

Michael Palin (b 1943) has had - is having - an amazing multi-pronged career. One of the original members of the Monty Python team, he has subsequently reinvented himself as a prolific author, a film and television actor and, more recently, a hugely popular and successful travel show presenter and writer. Palin has a lot to celebrate these next few weeks with the publication of the second volume of his diaries, ...

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